October 8, 2019

Robert Downey, Jr. Finally Weighs In on Scorsese vs. Marvel

Avengers
The Avengers: Endgame star adds his two cents on the idea that the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't "cinema."

Martin Scorsese unknowingly sparked some controversy last week when he deemed that Marvel Studios and their 11-year streak of hits (and three Oscar wins, FYI) was not "cinema." The Irishman director went on to say that, while he tried to watch Marvel moves, he doesn't see them at all because they are closer, in his view, to theme parks than "real movies." (insert *dismissive wank gesture here*). His problematic opinion garnered responses from Marvel filmmakers James Gunn and Joss Whedon, as well as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse co-director Peter Ramsay. Now, Iron Man himself is chiming in to defend Marvel. Grab some popcorn, folks. 

Robert Downey, Jr was recently a guest on The Howard Stern Show and he, in pure class-act form, where he diplomatically challenged Scorsese's "not cinema" views: “It’s his opinion,” Downey, Jr. said. “I mean, it plays in theaters."

The actor when on to say "I appreciate his opinion because I think it’s like anything. We need all of the different perspectives so we can come to the center and move on.”

Fans of Marvel's blockbusters, both filmmakers and average movie goers, did not react well to Scorsese's elitist comments. Marvel movies, while more inclined to be theme park centerpieces than, say, Last Temptation of Christ (we'd totally love pay admission for a VR, first-person sim of After Hours, though), they are cinematic experiences without peer. The emotional drama and character dynamics Scorsese claims the movies lack are, in fact, there in abundance across more than 20 films (and counting). Take away the talking trees and kick-punching and exploding CG, and all you have is what audiences want: The characters. You can't get this dynamic anywhere else, which is why we are even having this conversation because if Marvel's movies were just eye candy designed to primarily sell popcorn and merch, then we would have exhausted any sh**s to give. We would have seen through that and moved on. 

But we are invested -- adults, children, men, women -- we are invested for the long haul because of how Marvel makes us care about the heroes and villains throwing shields or getting hit with them. As Downey, Jr. summarizes:

“In [Scorsese's] view — and, by the way, there’s a lot to be said for how these genre movies, and I was happy to be part of the problem, if there is one — denigrated the art form of cinema. When you come in like a stomping beast and you eliminate the competition in such a demonstrative way, it’s phenomenal.”

What You Can Learn

If there is any takeaway from this, other than try to watch movies from a vantage point other than atop a high horse, it's that subscribing pretentious labels on your fellow filmmakers and their output will never service you. Not in the long-term. Some narratives are better told, emotionally, than others. Some movies are better made and executed than others, in ways that warrant a theatrical experience that studio films have made us accustomed to. But we are all in this boat together. So more rowing it together (even if you are at Scorsese's level) and less feeling like you're beating colleagues with the oars.

Collaboration and respect, like "cinema," endure for far longer than the other thing.      

Your Comment

12 Comments

Scorsese is right and no political correctness can change that.

October 8, 2019 at 3:41PM

0
Reply

In the modern world, especially the US, everything is "subjective", so individual opinion is king. There's no shared canon to fall back on, so anybody can argue that Avengers is just as good as the Taxi Driver or Citizen Cane...

October 8, 2019 at 6:33PM

1
Reply

This article is just...wow. I guess I didn't realize exactly how rabid the marvel fanboys are that they're willing to shit all over the opinion of a freaking MASTER of cinema. He just gave his calm opinion on the matter, yet fanboys like the "writer" of this article seem to barely be able to hold back insults when speaking about him. Scorsese is right - Marvel is making "products", not movies. Phil, you speak of Marvel having powerful characters - you mean the ones that have thousands of pages of history in the form of comic books and animated series, that were already loved by people before even the first Marvel movie hit the theaters? Come on, let's be serious, every single sensible person with a brain knows deep inside that Marvel movies are shlock. Nobody's saying you're wrong for watching them, I watched a bunch of 'em too, but neither can you say Scorsese is wrong for not watching them. But I'm sure this logic has already surpassed your already-outraged fanboy brain. The truth is people like you, who have consumed these Marvel products so ravenously that they are no longer just movies - they're part of your identity - you can't stand it that one of the most famous filmmakers ever is saying he doesn't like what you like, and instead of maybe at least considering his opinion, you go on a rant and say that he's "watching movies from atop a high horse" (I won't even go into how stupid that affirmation is cause it'll take another 2 paragraphs). You poor man. Just to reiterate: SCORSESE IS RIGHT, MARVEL MOVIES ARE NOT REAL MOVIES, DEAL WITH IT!

October 8, 2019 at 4:59PM

0
Reply

"Cultural genocide."

October 8, 2019 at 7:24PM

0
Reply
avatar
Victor Villasenor-Tejeda
Graphic Artist
82

I thought the most interesting part was that Howard Stern is still around.

October 8, 2019 at 8:11PM

0
Reply
avatar
Cooper
130

What is happening to NFS? First that Joker article and now this?

October 9, 2019 at 4:28AM

1
Reply
Richard
185

Ah it's the same writer. NFS you really need to stop publishing what Phil Pirrello writes.

October 9, 2019 at 4:29AM

1
Reply
Richard
185

Marvel are movies, yes, you see them in theaters. They are cinematic, yes. But is a new genere, superheroes, that is pure fantasy. Pure fantasy in the end is limited and boring. Superheroes will fade away like western. The sooner, the better!

October 9, 2019 at 8:12AM

0
Reply
avatar
Javier Diez
Director/Writer
191

Westerns are cool though.... I mean have you ever seen Slow West or Meeks Cutoff?

October 9, 2019 at 5:40PM

0
Reply
Alex Alva
1269

Winchester 73 is a masterpiece, take a look at it and see how hard is this classic. Once upon a time in the West is a fun one. As many Westerns. Superhero movies have not at the moment achieved any masterpiece for film history. The best perhaps The dark knight. But first need to get rid of excess fantasy.

October 10, 2019 at 3:32AM

0
Reply
avatar
Javier Diez
Director/Writer
191

Marvel movies are politically correct garbage made for self hating white liberal communists. DC is the way to go for Adults, go watch Joker.

October 10, 2019 at 7:36AM

0
Reply

It's called genre Mr. Scorsese. The same reason you keep going back to mob films. It's a genre you are good at. Taxi driver and Joker are closely related. Blood brothers.

October 10, 2019 at 4:18PM

0
Reply
avatar
Marc Strong
Producer
201