James Gunn says Martin Scorsese bashed Marvel movies to get press

·5 min read
James Gunn says Martin Scorsese bashed Marvel movies to get press

Martin Scorsese's nearly two-year-old remarks in which he called Marvel films "not cinema" continue to sting some fans and filmmakers.

The Suicide Squad director James Gunn was recently asked about defending comic book movies from criticism from Jodie Foster in 2018 and Scorsese in 2019. Specifically, Happy Sad Confused podcast host Josh Horowitz asked if Gunn found it "a little exhausting sometimes to be the guy like… 'I love you, Marty, but hear me out here?'"

"I just think, you know… he just seems awful cynical — that he, you know, he would keep coming out against Marvel and then that's the only thing that would get him press for his movie," Gunn replied. "So then he just kept coming out against Marvel so that he could get press for his movie. So he's creating his movie in the shadow of the Marvel films, and so he uses that to get attention for something that he wasn't getting as much attention as he wanted for it."

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic (2) James Gunn and Martin Scorsese

Gunn then quickly praised the esteemed director, calling Scorsese "one of the greatest filmmakers who's ever existed."

"I love his movies. I can watch his movies no problem. And he said a lot of things I agree with," Gunn said of Scorsese's 2019 critiques of superhero films, which after his initial brush-off of the genre in Empire magazine, in which he likened them to "theme parks," and shortly thereafter calling them "not cinema, it's something else" at the BFI London Film Festival, Scorsese clarified in a New York Times op-ed.

"There [are] a lot of things that are true about what he's said," Gunn continued. "There are a lot of heartless, soulless, you know, spectacle films out there that don't reflect what should be happening. I mean, I can't tell you the amount of times I've talked to film directors before they went in and made a big movie, and said 'Hey, we're in this together. Let's do something different with these big movies. Let's make them something different than everything that's come before 'em.' And then see them just go and just cater to every single studio whim or what's thought of, and just be grossed out, frankly. "

Gunn concluded, "So… a lot of what he said was good. And then also, like he hasn't seen my movie. He doesn't know what my movie is, so you know it was… it was irritating."

The director clarified his position Wednesday on Twitter, again praising Scorsese's body of work but reiterating that he didn't support his stance on superhero fare.

"I love & study his films & will continue to love & study his films," Gunn wrote. "I disagree with him solely on one point: That films based on comic books are innately not cinema, that's all."

In Scorsese's New York Times piece, "I Said Marvel Movies Aren't Cinema. Let Me Explain," the Irishman director stated he had a different creative brief when it came to making movies.

"For me, for the filmmakers I came to love and respect, for my friends who started making movies around the same time that I did, cinema was about revelation — aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual revelation," Scorsese wrote. "It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face-to-face with themselves."

After Scorsese's initial comments in 2019, Gunn tweeted, "Martin Scorsese is one of my 5 favorite living filmmakers. I was outraged when people picketed The Last Temptation of Christ without having seen the film. I'm saddened that he's now judging my films in the same way."

The Avengers director Joss Whedon also reacted on Twitter at the time, writing, "I first think of @JamesGunn, how his heart & guts are packed into GOTG. I revere Marty, & I do see his point, but… Well there's a reason why 'I'm always angry.'" (Whedon was quoting Bruce Banner's famous Avengers line.)

Back in May 2021, though, Justice League director Zack Snyder revealed he doesn't have a problem with what Scorsese said about Marvel films.

"Oh, it's fair," Snyder said in response to a fan question in an interview with The Guardian. "Martin Scorsese is a genius. If you're really good at something, commenting on that world is completely within your rights. And it doesn't diminish my respect for him. I'm certain he wasn't talking about my movies. [Laughs] He might've been, but I like to think he wasn't. He meant the other ones."

A representative for Scorsese didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment.

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