Sebastian Stan defends the Marvel Cinematic Universe against criticisms from directors Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Stan is only the latest notable name to give his two cents on the continuing controversy, but the actor’s remarks stand out in that they seem to argue for the emotional merit of superhero movies.
The debate began when Scorsese, a legendary director who is currently promoting The Irishman, gave his opinion on Marvel’s output. While he noted the fact that the movies were well-made, and he could see that the actors involved were trying to do good work, Scorsese felt the movies were like theme parks. Despite his efforts, he couldn’t invest in them. Since then, Scorsese has doubled down. He warned against being invaded by Marvel movies, arguing for more narrative films. Francis Ford Coppola, thinking Scorsese was too kind in his comments, referred to Marvel pictures as despicable. He went on to elaborate on his view that audiences aren’t gaining anything from the comic book adaptations that have come to dominate the box office.
Stan, who will reprise his role as The Winter Soldier for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, tackled Coppola’s concerns head on. According to ComicBook, the actor offered his rebuttal during a panel on Sunday. Speaking at the Fandemic Tour Houston, Stan pointed out why he disagreed with one of his heroes.
“He’s one of my heroes and I was listening to him and meanwhile, I just spent the day with all of you. People have been going up to me like ‘Thank you so much for this character,’ ‘This movie helped me out so much,’ ‘This movie inspired me. Now I feel better. Now I feel less alone,' so how can you say these movies are not helping people?”
In his defense, Stan hued closer to Karen Gillan than Robert Downey Jr. While many, including Samuel L. Jackson, have disagreed with Scorsese, they did so by pointing out the obvious: Marvel movies play in the cinema, therefore it’s cinema. Natalie Portman, returning for Thor: Love & Thunder, defended Marvel by pointing out its entertainment value. Stan’s argument is distinguished because, in the middle of all the back and forth, he’s one of the few that’s making the case for Marvel as something that inspires audiences. He’s saying the MCU is exactly what Coppola claims it’s not.
It’s possible to poke holes in that. It’s entirely fair to ding the MCU, and the comic book genre more broadly, for adhering to what can be a rigid formula. It’s a worthwhile debate to argue about what superhero films do to the moviegoing experience. But, at the same time, the scene of Peter Parker trapped under the rubble and finding the strength to survive is absolutely an inspiring moment. Tony Stark’s sacrifice is absolutely a cinematic end to a complex character. Black Panther, as a whole, overflows with rich historical context.
Movies convey different things to different kinds of people. It would be wrong, even for legendary directors like Scorsese and Coppola, to dismiss a genre with increasingly dismissive declarations just because it doesn’t fit their own definitions. As the discussion continues, perhaps more high-profile names associated with the MCU will join Stan in making an affirmative case for the work they help to create.
- 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
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022