Midway director Roland Emmerich agrees with Martin Scorsese’s controversial take on Marvel movies. The internet has of course been on fire ever since the legendary Scorsese, director of classics like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, offered up his opinion of Marvel movies and their dominant position in the current movie landscape.
It all started back in early October when Scorsese, speaking to Empire magazine about his latest film The Irishman, slammed Marvel movies and claimed they aren’t real "cinema" but are more like the movie version of theme parks. Backlash against Scorsese was swift and merciless, with everyone from Robert Downey Jr. to Samuel L. Jackson to Kevin Smith lining up to criticize the director for his takes. Amid the ongoing negativity, Scorsese released an op-ed in the New York Times in which he clarified his remarks, giving his own definition of “cinema,” and explaining in detail why he thinks it’s bad for comic book films to dominate the movie market as they do.
Speaking exclusively to Screen Rant ahead of the release of his new WW2 movie Midway, director Emmerich gave his own take on Scorsese’s comments, and basically agreed with them. He said:
Well, I think he sees it from a very [purist] standpoint. If you like Martin Scorsese… I think they shouldn’t give him so much flak. But what he’d probably meant is that there may be too many of them. It’s like taking over our business, and it’s really hard for other movies to be even heard. So, in that respect, I’m not a fan of a comic book hero movies. But I accept them for what they are.
Indeed, the main point of Scorsese’s Marvel take really concerns the dominance of the superhero formula and how studios now seem unwilling to take a chance on anything that doesn’t involve comic book characters. Interestingly, Scorsese himself at one point seemed ready to give in to this reality by becoming involved in the DC movie Joker, but ultimately stepped away from directing the film because, according to him, he just didn’t have the time. But at least for awhile, it seems Scorsese was willing to jump on the superhero bandwagon despite his disdain for the form (though he has said that in his own mind, Joker doesn’t really qualify as a superhero movie, and is indeed "cinema" as he understands it).
It is of course fascinating to get Emmerich’s take on the controversy, as he is known as a studio director who has helmed big budget movies like Independence Day and 2012 – films that probably don’t qualify as cinema in Scorsese’s estimation. But despite his position as a maker of popcorn entertainment films on par with comic book movies at least artistically, Emmerich clearly sees the point of what Scorsese is saying, and agrees with the legendary filmmaker that it’s not a good thing for such films to suck up all the air and money in Hollywood.
Of course, takes like Scorsese’s and Emmerich’s ultimately don’t matter to studios like Warner Bros. and Disney, who are only concerned about making movies that achieve blockbuster worldwide grosses. For better or worse, comic book movies perform better than any other form and as long as that remains the case, they will continue to be cranked out one after another while big-budget war movies like Emmerich's Midway get scarcer and scarcer. But as Joker and its success has proven, even within the “comic book” format, there is still room for a lot of variation and creativity.
- Midway (2019) release date: Nov 08, 2019