Chris Evans and Scarlett Johannsson addressed some of the "anti-Marvel" comments made by filmmakers like Martin Scorsese. Last month, Scorsese made headlines when he called Marvel movies “something else,” equating them with “theme park rides” that lacked depth and were unconcerned with conveying emotional or psychological experiences. These comments have provoked a plethora of reactions, one of which was Francis Ford Coppola’s backing of Scorsese’s remarks, calling Marvel’s cinematic revolution “despicable.”
Many critics and fans took the acclaimed directors’ comments at face value; the directors were written off as being archaic, out of the loop, or jealous of the MCU's financial success. Within context, Scorsese’s remarks are rooted in a concern for cinema’s future. He elaborates upon the current state of creative affairs; big-budget franchises are taking screen-time away from independent film/more diverse endeavors. This is not a new concern; many actors have discussed the dichotomy between big studio films and the smaller projects on programs like Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.
Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson sat down in the latest episode of Variety Studio: Actors on Actors to discuss their newest films (Marriage Story and Knives Out), careers and their industry. Both Evans and Johannsson worked on a handful of MCU movies together (Avengers: Endgame being the biggest movie of all time) and have an astute understanding of the type of films Scorsese was addressing. Marriage Story and Knives Out being of the lower-budget persuasion, made the comparison between the two types of films inevitable. Evans attacked this head-on by bringing up Knives Out’s originality.
Evans: Original content, it’s not there very often. That is one of the best things about Knives Out. It was something that I read that felt fresh and new. I think this weird chicken-and-the-egg thing, who started it? Did audiences only start going to lowbrow stuff, so that’s what we started making? Or is it that we made it first, and now that’s all we’re offered?
Johansson: Hey, speak for yourself. It’s interesting because a couple of people in the past couple of days have mentioned to me that a couple of extremely esteemed directors have been really vocal about how the whole Marvel universe and big blockbusters are really, like, despicable and the death of cinema. At first, I thought that seems kind of old-fashioned, and somebody had to explain to me because it seemed so disappointing and sad in a way. They said, I think what these people are saying is that at the actual theater, there’s not a lot of room for different kinds of movies, or smaller movies, because the theater is taken up by huge blockbusters.
Evans: I think original content inspires creative content. I think new stuff is what keeps the creative wheel rolling. I just believe there’s room at the table for all of it. It’s like saying a certain type of music isn’t music. Who are you to say that?
Evans and Johansson have been in the industry for a long time; the pair have appeared in big-budget and independent films for over 20 years. Their filmographies have intersected numerous times including The Perfect Score, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Their shared perspective affirms what the general "anti-Marvel" argument consensus appears to be.
There is no denying the fact that blockbusters are a more lucrative investment for studios. The success of creatively ambitious television, streaming services, and the actors that dabble in the realms of both blockbusters and indie films, prove that there is indeed room for all of it. Later in the episode, Evans says "the audience doesn't come to see you, they come to see themselves." If assembly line-like blockbusters do take over, audiences won't buy tickets if they aren't relatable. Hopefully, the future is full of equally creative blockbusters and indies; one will likely influence the other.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022