A superhero director being asked about Martin Scorsese’s opinions on Marvel movies, nature really is healing. Yes, only three things in life are certain, life, death, and the painful banality of different Film Twitter cliques arguing over trivialities. Also, I am well aware that I’m giving the flame wars more oxygen by writing about it. It’s called hypocrisy, okay?
The Scorsese versus Marvel cold war suddenly turned hot last night after the Happy Sad Confused podcast released an interview with James Gunn where he was asked about Scorsese. During the conversation, Gunn claimed that Martin Scorsese only criticises Marvel movies to get publicity for his own films. Gunn’s since released a statement clarifying that quote, but it’s too late. The fan wars have already begun.
Across the No Man’s Land of Twitter, Scorsese-philes were firing off insults about the Marvel Cinematic Universe being the least creative thing since someone made up a metaphor about sliced bread being a good thing. Marvel Zombies, meanwhile, were chucking explosive box-office statistics around with wanton abandon. It was a discourse disaster, the likes of which haven’t been seen since, well, the last time we had this exact argument.
But I’m here to let you in on a secret, and I write this as a Marvel fan who has an Avengers: Endgame shrine on his wall: this doesn’t matter. In fact, the entire argument is about as stimulating as turning on a hairdryer, then a hoover, and listening to them both drone on because neither side is really willing to listen to the other.
This argument isn’t about the creative merits of a blockbuster franchise loved by millions or the respect owed to a veteran auteur filmmaker who’s a champion for world cinema. No, this argument is basic tribalism; I don’t like that thing, and I like this thing, and that is my whole identity. This, combined with a press who are rewarded with clicks and social media engagement if they stoke the dying embers of a debate we moved past in 2019, is the reason we have these ‘debates’.
Here’s the thing, though: in the words of Aaron Burr from the hit musical Hamilton, the world is wide enough for both. Call me a Marvel shill or a Scorsese film bro, but it’s perfectly possible – nay, probably the default position – to like both the work of Martin Scorsese and superhero movies. The two aren’t antithetical to each other, no matter what loud groups on Twitter would want you to believe.
The joy of movies is that you get out of them what you put into them. If you want to enjoy the MCU and DCEU as fun popcorn movies, you can. Equally, if you dive into it, you can see it as an ambitious new mythology of interconnected films, the scale of which we’ve never seen on the silver screen before. Similarly, it’s perfectly acceptable to think of Scorsese as ‘that guy who makes great gangster movies, or the master filmmaker behind religious epics like The Last Temptation of Christ and Silence.
Other people don’t get to tell you how to enjoy art, nor do they get to gatekeep who’s a real fan based on some absurd checklist that only exists in their heads. The best way to deal with this whole debacle, in the words of a bang average Simpsons episode, is “just don’t look” and so don’t engage with it. It’s not worth your time.
Unironically, certain people will call me a centrist after reading this and my milquetoast opinion that it’s possible to like two things at once, but I have one thing over them. I’ve not spent the last few hours arguing with strangers on the Internet.