Martin Scorsese declares Marvel ‘not cinema,’ and Samuel L. Jackson’s not having it

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese thinks Marvel movies are closer to being theme parks than cinema.
(Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)

Martin Scorsese may be one of the world’s greatest directors and a human film encyclopedia, but his definition of “cinema” doesn’t include the most popular movies on Earth.

In a recent interview in Empire, the Oscar-winning legend said of Marvel Cinematic Universe films, “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

Scorsese’s comments caused a ripple of outrage on Twitter, with some MCU fans calling the director of “Kundun,” “After Hours,” “New York, New York,” “Silence,” “The Aviator” and “The Last Waltz” a one-genre filmmaker, apparently because several of his movies (including the upcoming “The Irishman”) have involved the mob. Others used humor as rejoinders, needling him for appearing as an animated-fish version of himself in “Shark Tale”:


There were cooler-headed responses from filmmakers such as Leigh Whannell (“Saw,” “Upgrade”).

And then there were responses from some involved in the MCU. James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”) tweeted somewhat wistfully:

“Marvel’s The Avengers” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” writer-director Joss Whedon evoked a line he wrote for “The Hulk”:

Nick Fury himself, Samuel L. Jackson, was asked about the comments while attending the opening of Tyler Perry’s new studio in Atlanta. He said, “That’s like saying, ‘Bugs Bunny ain’t funny.’ ” He added, “Everybody’s got an opinion, so it’s OK. It’s not going to stop anyone from making movies.”