James Gunn has issued a fascinating response to Jodie Foster's criticism of superhero movies. Two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster has triggered a fascinating debate about the future of Hollywood. Comparing the traditional Hollywood blockbusters to fracking, she explained, "You get the best return right now but you wreck the Earth."
Although Foster avoided singling out any specific films or studios, she made her views on the superhero genre pretty clear. "I don't want to make $200 million movies about superheroes," she noted.
"I think Foster looks at film in an old-fashioned way where spectacle film can't be thought-provoking. It's often true but not always. Her belief system is pretty common and isn't totally without basis. I say not without basis because most studio franchise films are quite soulless - and that is a real danger to the future of movies. But there are also quite a few exceptions.
For cinema to survive I believe spectacle films NEED to have a vision and heart they traditionally haven't. And some of us are doing our best to move in that direction. Creating spectacle films that are innovative, humane, and thoughtful is what excites me about this job.
But, to be fair, at least from Foster's quotes, she seems to see filmmaking as something that's primarily about her own personal growth. For me, that may be part of why I do this, but spending many millions of dollars on a film has to be about more than that - it's communication - so my experience is merely one spoke on that wheel. But I respect Foster and what she's done for films and I appreciate her different way of looking at Hollywood's landscape."
It's a courteous, thoughtful response that cuts to the heart of the issue. Gunn points out that Foster's view is a common one, that "spectacle films" are often pretty soulless. More to the point, he also acknowledges that there's an element of truth in this view. Gunn goes one step further, suggesting that these soulless spectacle films, lacking in heart and vision, are doing real damage to Hollywood. But in his view, the solution isn't ditching the $200 million superhero film. Rather, it's in transforming it.
For Gunn, the challenge of the superhero blockbuster is to give it a heart, to give it a soul. That's why he pushed the boundaries of the MCU with the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. He even fought against the Marvel creative committee when they tried to get rid of the Awesome Mix soundtrack. Gunn knew that the soundtrack was a core part of the film, helping to make the movie truly innovative and creative.
This is a view that Gunn has campaigned for time and again. When Deadpool was released back in 2016, for example, he publicly cautioned that studios could easily learn the wrong lessons. The writer-director predicted that studios would simply try to mimic the film, using it as a template for raunchy humor or assuming the R-rating was what made the film work. Instead, he argued, Deadpool succeeded because "it was its own thing," made with love.
Over on social media, many superhero fans have fumed at Foster's words. The reality, though, is that she's done Hollywood a favor. She's reignited an essential debate about what it actually means to make a good film, and in so doing she's inspired a conversation that's essential to the future of Hollywood.
Source: James Gunn
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