The Simple Explanation: Scorsese’s ‘beef’ with superheros

Martin Scorsese said Marvel movies suck, they are awful, what? Do you call that a movie? That isn’t even a cinema. Geddadahere! Then Samuel L Jackson replied, “Where is he? Let him come here and say that to my face!”

Okay, those are not the exact words. The showbiz media really seems to be trying to escalate what was a quiet, benign, gentlemanly difference of views between these old men. Let me explain.

For some reason director Martin Scorsese was talking about the MCU, Marvel’s series of Superhero movies. I don’t know why; it’s kind of obvious that they are not the kind of thing that would appeal to him. Martin Scorsese always struck me, every time we meet when I’m in LA, as the kind of smug, curmudgeonly elitist geniuses fossilize into in their old age.

This is what he said.

“I tried, you know? But that’s not the cinema. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

Then someone asked Samuel L what he thought, to which Mr. Jackson replied. “Films are films. Everybody doesn’t like his stuff either.”

Scorsese makes movies about conflicted, tortured, beleaguered men in conflicted, tortured, beleaguered societies. He makes movies to leave you disturbed. 

MCU makes movies that are about having fun, enjoying the show, being entertained. 

Scorsese says it’s not cinema. Then whatever it is, it’s possibly better than cinema. Because it’s fun. It’s fun to see a dude in magic metal pajamas shoot evil creatures out of the sky while his green giant buddy smashes robots into other robots. 

And of course, let’s not forget the best thing about the MCU, Natasha Romanov. Black Widow, as played by Scarlett Johannson. If you go to an MCU movie, you will see her scissor-kick one bad guy, then suplex another, then muay thai a third, all in the same second. I didn’t even know those terms until Black Widow opened my mind to a whole new world where such amazing things as scissor kicks, suplexes and muay thai existed.

Meanwhile, Scorsese movies are about what he described “cinema” as being about. “Human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

Scorsese movies are about that. But well, so is my relationship. 

I keep trying to convey my emotional, psychological experience to my girl but the problem is she has these emotional psychological experiences of her own that she’s trying to convey to me and it’s all so complex that we end up having an argument instead.

“You don’t appreciate me!”

“What the… where is this even coming from?”

“How come Scarlett Johannson is always your phone wallpaper? How come I have never been your phone wallpaper?”

“I don’t know. How come you have never suplexed?”

Like the typical old snob, Scorsese adds that he hasn’t actually watched the MCU movies he so confidently derided. He says he tried but never managed to watch them. 

I told you he was a genius. A man so intelligent he can tell you not just what a movie he hasn’t watched is about, but what 23 movies are about.

So, he never got to the part where the emotional psychological experiences were conveyed.

I don’t want to give you any spoilers but, and I’m not being flippant here, but Chris Hemsworth-- a soap opera actor-- and Tom Hiddleston -- a Shakespearean actor performed a couple of the most beautiful and intense and complex displays of the thespian art I’ve seen since I last watched a Scorcese movie.

Not to mention the whole Tony Stark (no pun intended) story arc, from his fall to his redemption. Or the smoldering simmering understatement in Mark Ruffalo’s Dr. Banner.

Or Black Widow’s “interrogation” scenes. 

Or her Muay Thai for that matter. 

They conveyed the crap out of emotion and psychological experience. 

And don’t get me started on the socio-economic experience and how between Thanos and Wakanda Marvel movie fans have had their minds broadened through the number of post-film analysis about the economics of Wakanda and what they can teach us about the real world. I didn’t learn anything about Malthus or about Keynes or the resource curse from ‘Taxi Driver’. 

To tell you the truth, I never finished ‘Taxi Driver’. I tried but I couldn’t manage to get through it.

It’s like Samuel L said when he was asked to weigh in:

“I mean that’s like saying Bugs Bunny ain’t funny. Films are films. Everybody doesn’t like his stuff either.”

Exactly. Bugs Bunny is the funniest thing ever experienced, psychologically, emotionally or geopolitically or even orally. Even repeating a Bugs Bunny quote makes you laugh. 

Scorsese has a new joint out. It’s called ‘The Irishman’. It’s probably going to be brilliant. But it’s not going to be a cinema. It’s going to be on Netflix.

Cinema is when you pay to enter a dark room where they throw pictures on the wall, the pictures move and you sit and look at them.

Netflix isn’t cinema.

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