Marvel Studios has been hit with a wave of criticism from filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola as of late, but fans of the genre will not take any of it sitting down.
James Gunn, Kevin Smith, and even Jon Favreau have spoken out against those comments while also respecting the directors that helped pave the way for them. And now Disney CEO Bob Iger is coming out to defend his IP. Check out what he had to say below.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal at the publisher’s Tech Conference, Iger was asked about his thoughts on Scorsese and Coppola’s criticisms that superhero films aren’t cinema. The CEO targeted Coppola’s condemnation that the films are “despicable,” and wondered why the filmmaker would use such a word considering that it, in his opinion, is reserved for those who commit mass murder. Not for films. Here’s what he said:
“It doesn’t bother me, except I’m bothered on behalf of the people who work on those movies. So I don’t take it personally. They don’t see how the audience is reacting to them, first of all. They are entitled to their opinions. Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese are two people I hold in the highest regard in terms of the films that they’ve made, the films I’ve liked, the films we’ve all watched. But when Francis uses the word ‘despicable?’ I reserve the word ‘despicable’ for someone who committed mass murder. These are movies! To whom is he talking? Is he talking to Kevin Feige, who runs Marvel? Or Taika Waititi who directs, or Ryan Coogler, who directs for us? Or Scarlett Johansson or Chad Boseman? I could name a number of people – Robert Downey Jr.?”
Unsure of who the target is supposed to be Iger pointed out that just because they are in the business of making money, that doesn’t mean that they just release these films haphazardly. They hire the right creative people to bring these films to the theaters, and by doing so, the success of these films could help other films that might not be as successful:
“So I don’t quite get what they are trying to criticize us for when we are making films that people obviously are enjoying going to, because they are doing so by the millions. The distribution business or the theatrical exhibition business as it is called worldwide has relatively thin margins. When those theaters run movies, not just ours, because there are other blockbusters out there too, that do exceedingly well for them, and they make a lot of money on them, that actually gives them the ability to run other films that might not be as successful, but there are people in different places that want to see them.”
Iger then took a short time to compose himself before getting back into it again by defending those like Ryan Coogler, who was able to help Marvel Studios’ score their first major Academy Award nominations, and win a few of them as well:
“I think I’ve sounded a little more defensive than I wanted to be, because I don’t really feel the need to defend what we’re doing. We are in the business of – first of all, we’re in the business of making money, we’re a profitable business. At the same time at Disney, we try to balance that with telling great stories to the world and infusing them with great values and supporting a employee based of well over 200,000 people around the world with great care, and frankly, respect. So I just don’t – I’m puzzled by it. If they want to bitch about movies, it’s certainly their right.
It seems so disrespectful to all the people that work on those films who are working just as hard on their films, and are putting their creative souls on the line, just like they are. You’re telling me Ryan Coogler making Black Panther is doing something that is somehow or another less than what Marty Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola have ever done on any one of their movies? Like, come on. Yeah, I said it.”
And so the great debate of whether or not superhero films are cinema continues. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and we can all agree to disagree, but make sure that you do not allow another person, no matter who they are, to dictate what is a film and what isn’t.
Let’s just hope that we can finally put this to rest because there are other things that we should have to worry about more than what is and what isn’t considered cinema.