Martin Scorsese has penned an open letter addressing the negative comments he made regarding Marvel Studios movies. In recent weeks, the filmmaker has claimed that Marvel movies do not classify as cinema, referring to them as theme parks and, at one point, even doubling down on his stance.
"Many franchise films are made by people of considerable talent and artistry," he wrote in his letter, which appeared in The New York Times. "You can see it on the screen. The fact that the films themselves don't interest me is a matter of personal taste and temperament. I know that if I were younger, if I'd come of age at a later time, I might have been excited by these pictures and maybe even wanted to make one myself. But I grew up when I did and I developed a sense of movies -- of what they were and what they could be -- that was as far from the Marvel universe as we on Earth are from Alpha Centauri."
Scorsese juxtaposed the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the work of Alfred Hitchcock, claiming that Hitchcock's work was his equivalent to franchise cinema as every one of his movies was treated as an event. The key difference for him, however, lies in the MCU's lack of revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. As far as he's concerned, Marvel movies are devoid of risk.
"Some say that Hitchcock's pictures had a sameness to them, and perhaps that's true -- Hitchcock himself wondered about it. But the sameness of today's franchise pictures is something else again," he wrote. "Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures. What's not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes. [...] everything in them is officially sanctioned because it can't really be any other way. That's the nature of modern film franchises: market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they're ready for consumption."
"So, you might ask, what's my problem?" he continued. "Why not just let superhero films and other franchise films be? The reason is simple. In many places around this country and around the world, franchise films are now your primary choice if you want to see something on the big screen. It's a perilous time in film exhibition, and there are fewer independent theaters than ever."
"The situation, sadly, is that we now have two separate fields: There's worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there's cinema. They still overlap from time to time, but that's becoming increasingly rare. And I fear that the financial dominance of one is being used to marginalize and even belittle the existence of the other."
Scorsese's latest film, The Irishman, arrives on Netflix Nov. 27 following a limited theatrical release beginning Nov. 1. The film is based on a memoir entitled I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt and stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci.