Famed director Martin Scorsese recently caused a stir by deriding the superhero movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, saying that they're more akin to "theme parks" than true cinema. While objections from MCU filmmakers and actors were still coming in, Scorsese's criticisms were taken a step further by another highly influential director, Francis Ford Coppola, who stated that "Martin was kind when he said it's not cinema," and claimed that watching the films means "seeing the same movie over and over again."
One of the directors who initially expressed disappointment with Scorsese's opinion was James Gunn, who has contributed to several MCU films and is currently working on The Suicide Squad, a supervillain film based on DC's comic series. Gunn tweeted his response, saying that he was saddened by one of his favorite living filmmakers judging his films without having seen them. Today, his reaction to the continued hostility toward the superhero genre showed up on his Instagram.
Although Gunn didn't call out either of the directors by name in his latest comments, he did refer to Coppola's description of Marvel movies as "despicable", pointing out that the previous generations had that same view of the kind of gangster movies that have made Coppola famous. "Some of our great grandfathers thought the same of westerns," Gunn continued, "and believed the films of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone were all exactly the same."
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Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them “despicable”. Some of our great grandfathers thought the same of westerns, and believed the films of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone were all exactly the same. I remember a great uncle to whom I was raving about Star Wars. He responded by saying, “I saw that when it was called 2001, and, boy, was it boring!” Superheroes are simply today’s gangsters/cowboys/outer space adventurers. Some superhero films are awful, some are beautiful. Like westerns and gangster movies (and before that, just MOVIES), not everyone will be able to appreciate them, even some geniuses. And that’s okay. ❤️
Rather than approach the topic with anger, Gunn allows that his kind of movies aren't for everyone and notes that many genres, and even the medium of cinema itself, have been viewed with suspicion when they first become popular. "Some superhero films are awful, some are beautiful. Like westerns and gangster movies (and before that, just MOVIES), not everyone will be able to appreciate them, even some geniuses. And that’s okay."
Gunn's Instagram post was accompanied by a shot from his first movie for Marvel Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), which shows a memorable scene in which Rocket and Groot -- both CGI characters who initially seem to be nothing but comic relief -- say goodbye before Groot sacrifices himself to save the team. The image seems to have been carefully chosen, not only as a reminder of Gunn's ability to draw real emotion from a far-fetched scenario, but for the themes of peace and forgiveness that it evokes.
James Gunn is the director of Guardians of the Galaxy and its sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and will be returning for the third film in the franchise, with no release date yet announced. He also served as an executive producer for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. His next film will be Warner Bros.' The Suicide Squad, which is set to release on Aug. 6, 2021.