Film Martin Scorsese - Marvel movies are 'not cinema'

DixieDean

Everton Fan
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Messages
3,454
Location
Liverpool
Supports
Everton
I don't really expect Alan Moore to give a balanced view on comic books and comic adaptations since he's spent his whole career sneering at both industries whilst being a huge contributor. He seems to never have had a good word to say about the business and I certainly don't agree with his notion comics were primarily for working class children. He certainly didn't write for that audience, that's for certain.



This part is bit iffy too, particularly as you could remove all superhero films from the lists, and the remaining highest grossing movie franchises of all time are still films that are not based on reality but are fantasy stories to varying degrees. Superhero films seem to be an easy target when its clear that fantasy settings are what the masses want, whether its Star Wars or Harry Potter or Game of Thrones or men is capes and tights fighting baddies. The desire for fantasy and science fiction has been rife for decades.

There's only a small amount of superhero films I even like, but it's clear why people do like them. You don't have to like them I don't know why it needs to be dumped on to the point where they're deemed as not even being legitimate to the medium.
He's right.
 

calodo2003

Flaming Full Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2014
Messages
6,128
Location
Florida
It is rather embarrassing that most of the highest grossing films are animated, fantasy, or super hero drek.

Along with reality TV, it’s just an example of the dumbing down of society.
 

Hound Dog

Full Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2011
Messages
2,553
Location
Belgrade, Serbia
Supports
Whoever I bet on
Marvel movie are fecking trash. They are the Gossip Girl of movies. If you derive any pleasure or satisfaction from it, carry on but if you claim they are actually good movies then you're a moron.

Joker and The Dark Knight I reckon are good movies. Does that make me a hypocrite?
I don't think you can classify Joker as a superhero movie. (there is obviously no superhero in the movie but this is not the reason)
 

sullydnl

Ross Kemp's caf ID
Joined
Sep 13, 2012
Messages
22,866
It is rather embarrassing that most of the highest grossing films are animated, fantasy, or super hero drek.

Along with reality TV, it’s just an example of the dumbing down of society.
Don't think it's particularly embarrassing. Children and teenagers are as worthy an audience to make films for as any other and (for obvious reasons) you're going to get more adults going to kids films than vice versa. And in the UK at least the most common age for cinema attendees is 15-24. So it would be strange if most top grossing films weren't relatively juvenile.
 

Cheimoon

Up-and-comer
Scout
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
2,505
Location
Canada
Supports
no-one in particular
Don't think it's particularly embarrassing. Children and teenagers are as worthy an audience to make films for as any other and (for obvious reasons) you're going to get more adults going to kids films than vice versa. And in the UK at least the most common age for cinema attendees is 15-24. So it would be strange if most top grossing films weren't relatively juvenile.
I'm also wondering if it doesn't speak to a narrowing of popular culture. I.e., people single out fewer films, and so those do extremely well - and that happened to this genre. Kinda the reverse of what happened to music after the 80s/early 90s, which split up into a million subcultures, so now you don't have to be aware of the bigger artists at all anymore if you so choose. In turn, it's hard to avoid knowledge of the smash cinema hits these days.
 

calodo2003

Flaming Full Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2014
Messages
6,128
Location
Florida
Don't think it's particularly embarrassing. Children and teenagers are as worthy an audience to make films for as any other and (for obvious reasons) you're going to get more adults going to kids films than vice versa. And in the UK at least the most common age for cinema attendees is 15-24. So it would be strange if most top grossing films weren't relatively juvenile.
Think it might just be in the States, but something like 55% of the viewers of the Marvel superhero movies was the 18-34 age demographic. That’s pretty sad.

I can understand the animated movies to a certain extent being high grossers, but superhero movies garnering 55% adult viewership, albeit on the lower end of the age spectrum, is somewhat embarrassing. Reality TV kickstarted the dumbing down of broadcasted entertainment & it continues with movies such as the superhero / fantasy ones.
 

Cascarino

Full Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2014
Messages
3,224
Location
Wales
Supports
Swansea
Think it might just be in the States, but something like 55% of the viewers of the Marvel superhero movies was the 18-34 age demographic. That’s pretty sad.

I can understand the animated movies to a certain extent being high grossers, but superhero movies garnering 55% adult viewership, albeit on the lower end of the age spectrum, is somewhat embarrassing. Reality TV kickstarted the dumbing down of broadcasted entertainment & it continues with movies such as the superhero / fantasy ones.

The highest grossing movie of the 70s was Star Wars and Superman. 80s was Star Wars and Batman, 90s was Star Wars and Titanic.
 

calodo2003

Flaming Full Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2014
Messages
6,128
Location
Florida
The highest grossing movie of the 70s was Star Wars and Superman. 80s was Star Wars and Batman, 90s was Star Wars and Titanic.
Look at the saturation of fantasy / animated / superhero movies nowadays v. those back in the decades you referenced. Sure there was always a handful in those lists back in the day, but not to the extent that they are these days.

They’re just awful, shitty films for the most part.
 

Cascarino

Full Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2014
Messages
3,224
Location
Wales
Supports
Swansea
Look at the saturation of fantasy / animated / superhero movies nowadays v. those back in the decades you referenced. Sure there was always a handful in those lists back in the day, but not to the extent that they are these days.

They’re just awful, shitty films for the most part.
I’m not going to argue that there aren’t far too may of those films in question and for the most part they’re generic replicas. But that’s not what you said.

It is rather embarrassing that most of the highest grossing films are animated, fantasy, or super hero drek.

Along with reality TV, it’s just an example of the dumbing down of society.
It’s not a very good example of the dumbing down of society if every prior decade is exactly the same. The dumbing down narrative you’re trying to present is just patently untrue.
 

calodo2003

Flaming Full Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2014
Messages
6,128
Location
Florida
I’m not going to argue that there aren’t far too may of those films in question and for the most part they’re generic replicas. But that’s not what you said.



It’s not a very good example of the dumbing down of society if every prior decade is exactly the same. The dumbing down narrative you’re trying to present is just patently untrue.
Look at what I said - I said it was embarrassing that ‘most’ of the list was filled with these movies. Please look at the sentence preceding the one you highlighted. I didn’t make my statement just because said movies were on there, I made it because of the proliferation of those types of movies on there.
 

Cascarino

Full Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2014
Messages
3,224
Location
Wales
Supports
Swansea
Look at what I said - I said it was embarrassing that ‘most’ of the list was filled with these movies. Please look at the sentence preceding the one you highlighted. I didn’t make my statement just because said movies were on there, I made it because of the proliferation of those types of movies on there.
That’s my point though, check the highest grossing films from the last few decades. The highest grossing films has never been some intellectual bastion of culture. They’re all basically high concept films created with the intent of reaching a wide audience. Family friendly films which don’t really ask questions of you or say anything at all. It’s why looking at box officer returns and using that as some judgement of contemporary society is inherently flawed.
 

calodo2003

Flaming Full Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2014
Messages
6,128
Location
Florida
That’s my point though, check the highest grossing films from the last few decades. The highest grossing films has never been some intellectual bastion of culture. They’re all basically high concept films created with the intent of reaching a wide audience. Family friendly films which don’t really ask questions of you or say anything at all. It’s why looking at box officer returns and using that as some judgement of contemporary society is inherently flawed.
I somewhat agree with your assessment, but the highest grossing films of the past decades haven’t been absolutely chock full of the types of movies that are found in this decade. There has been a progressive creep towards these types of films mostly inhabiting such lists. While such a view through the box office returns lens may not reflect a society perfectly, it does reflect something about that society though.
 

Organic Potatoes

Full Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2013
Messages
13,668
Location
85R723R2+R6
Supports
Colorado Rapids
I somewhat agree with your assessment, but the highest grossing films of the past decades haven’t been absolutely chock full of the types of movies that are found in this decade. There has been a progressive creep towards these types of films mostly inhabiting such lists. While such a view through the box office returns lens may not reflect a society perfectly, it does reflect something about that society though.
Society has always been ‘dumbed down’. Big business is simply getting more efficient at exploiting it.
 

Brwned

Have you ever been in love before?
Joined
Apr 18, 2008
Messages
48,913
It is rather embarrassing that most of the highest grossing films are animated, fantasy, or super hero drek.

Along with reality TV, it’s just an example of the dumbing down of society.
Another way of looking at it is the medium is just best exploited through those kinds of loud, colourful, fantastical stories. If you want something that makes you think, moving pictures are just about the least appropriate medium to do so. They're tapping directly into the part of our brain that processes things quickly and instinctively. And the technological developments, in this century and the last, have all made it easier to tell these kinds of stories.

The people that watch so many superhero films were unlikely to be consuming the more "intellectual" content in other media anyway, there's just more content made available for that audience that fits their needs. Why would we think it was better when they had less?
 

Salt Bailly

Full Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2017
Messages
1,254
Location
Valinor
Bit rich coming from the guy who spent $130m making 70 year old Robert De Niro look like 60 year old Robert De Niro.
 

Wednesday at Stoke

Full Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2014
Messages
17,036
Location
København
Supports
Time Travel
This is a really good podcast on this topic with a WSJ reporter who wrote a book The Big Picture on the rise of comic book movies, sequels and the economic rationale behind it.

 

Vidyoyo

Self-confessed coffee shop chat-up expert
Joined
Jun 12, 2014
Messages
6,168
Location
Awaiting a new life on an off-world colony
Another way of looking at it is the medium is just best exploited through those kinds of loud, colourful, fantastical stories. If you want something that makes you think, moving pictures are just about the least appropriate medium to do so. They're tapping directly into the part of our brain that processes things quickly and instinctively. And the technological developments, in this century and the last, have all made it easier to tell these kinds of stories.

The people that watch so many superhero films were unlikely to be consuming the more "intellectual" content in other media anyway, there's just more content made available for that audience that fits their needs. Why would we think it was better when they had less?
I was going to write a riposte to this but you're probably right. It takes a long time to create a mindset where you're comfortable watching films critically, looking for the more thoughtful aspects rather than getting swept along for the ride.

I certainly think films can be thoughtful - and much of it comes down to presentation/editing - but it's not something most care for, especially comic-book movie fans who just want to have a bit of fun (and whatevz to that).
 

sullydnl

Ross Kemp's caf ID
Joined
Sep 13, 2012
Messages
22,866
I'm also wondering if it doesn't speak to a narrowing of popular culture. I.e., people single out fewer films, and so those do extremely well - and that happened to this genre. Kinda the reverse of what happened to music after the 80s/early 90s, which split up into a million subcultures, so now you don't have to be aware of the bigger artists at all anymore if you so choose. In turn, it's hard to avoid knowledge of the smash cinema hits these days.
It's an interesting comparison.

If you look at the music charts then they're extremely homogenised, far more so than in the past I would think. For example, in 2017 Ed Sheeran accounted for 16 of the top 20 at one point.

The difference I guess is the way we consume music vs film. Films have (up to now at least) still depended heavily on cinema distribution, so there's an immediate narrowing effect on what's available to the audience. Whereas (as you say) those with no interest in chart music can access the music the like with enough ease that the charts are irrelevant. Ed Sheeran might dominate the charts but that's a result of a trend towards passive listening (people with the most free time listening to the same thing on repeat because there's no cost to doing so) rather than access to music being narrowed. Whereas the dominance of Marvel is a more structural thing, I would think, based largely on how many screens are showing the films at a given time.

Also music acts have live tours to generate income from too, whereas films are more dependent on direct sales. Which I guess gears the film industry more heavily towards chart/box office appeal.

In that context it will be interesting to see what (if any) effect covid would have. On the one hand you would think that arthouse and independent cinemas will be worse effected by the shutdown, which will further limit the choice available to the audience. On the other hand a rise in streaming services might circumvent screening limitations somewhat.
 
Last edited:

stevoc

Full Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2011
Messages
11,646
Location
And Solskjær has won it!
Watch them. Enjoy them. Forget all about them.

Superhero movies are fine. I struggle to find appropriate movies to watch with my daughters, and these work. It gets a little worrying when adults are discussing them as though they actually carry any weight though, and its highly depressing when cinema listings are wall to wall fantasy movies
The first bolded part of your post probably explains the second part.
 

VorZakone

What would Kenny G do?
Joined
May 9, 2013
Messages
20,593
The narrowing of popular culture is an interesting one, I do get the feeling that we're talking about the same celebs in each industry of entertainment for a long while now. It doesn't look like the likes of Rihanna, Bieber or Drake are fading away anytime soon.
 

Brwned

Have you ever been in love before?
Joined
Apr 18, 2008
Messages
48,913
I was going to write a riposte to this but you're probably right. It takes a long time to create a mindset where you're comfortable watching films critically, looking for the more thoughtful aspects rather than getting swept along for the ride.

I certainly think films can be thoughtful - and much of it comes down to presentation/editing - but it's not something most care for, especially comic-book movie fans who just want to have a bit of fun (and whatevz to that).
Oh yeah most of my favourite films would be films that I consider thoughtful, and Scorcese would consider "real cinema". But if you take something like La Passion de Jeanne D'arc, it had to rely on the intensity of the acting, the thoughtfulness of the cinematography and the strength of the script because the cameras were cumbersome and sound reproduction was impossible. The limitations of the technology required that kind of artistry and creativity just to make it worth seeing on the big screen. Godard, Truffaut, Fellini and co. grew up with films like that and as the technology improved, they carried a lot of that essence through to their films. And those are the kinds of films that Scorcese then grew up with.

These kinds of films didn't really come close to exploiting the power of an audiovisual medium just because the technology didn't allow for it. As the cameras have gotten lighter, sound and color reproduction have exploded onto the scene, etc. we are now much better at that. And you can see how that manifests itself in blockbuster films. So it's not that you can't make artistic films that appeal to a large group, but it isn't necessarily true that they are the pinnacle of that medium.

Something like a book has to work really hard to bring ideas to life, and it makes your brain work hard and slow. That's just one of the limitations of the medium and there are echoes of that in what defined cinema in the era Scorcese grew up in. But our eyes / brain process moving images exceptionally quickly, with sharply contrasting colours playing a big role in that, and loud noises play an important supporting role. Detecting lions in the grasslands and all that. If cinema's development wasn't artificially constrained by those technological limitations then it might be that these loud, colourful blockbuster films might have been defined as the pinnacle of the medium.

That's at the heart of the question Scorcese raised, and underpinned @calodo2003's assessment of the decline of film. The idea that there is a "true" form of cinema, and that it was defined almost a century ago. At the end of the day cinema's just this thing we invented that has been defined and redefined over and over again. Experts like Scorcese should play a role in defining what that is but the default assumption that this recent progression is a decline should be challenged.
 

Cheimoon

Up-and-comer
Scout
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
2,505
Location
Canada
Supports
no-one in particular
Oh yeah most of my favourite films would be films that I consider thoughtful, and Scorcese would consider "real cinema". But if you take something like La Passion de Jeanne D'arc, it had to rely on the intensity of the acting, the thoughtfulness of the cinematography and the strength of the script because the cameras were cumbersome and sound reproduction was impossible. The limitations of the technology required that kind of artistry and creativity just to make it worth seeing on the big screen. Godard, Truffaut, Fellini and co. grew up with films like that and as the technology improved, they carried a lot of that essence through to their films. And those are the kinds of films that Scorcese then grew up with.

These kinds of films didn't really come close to exploiting the power of an audiovisual medium just because the technology didn't allow for it. As the cameras have gotten lighter, sound and color reproduction have exploded onto the scene, etc. we are now much better at that. And you can see how that manifests itself in blockbuster films. So it's not that you can't make artistic films that appeal to a large group, but it isn't necessarily true that they are the pinnacle of that medium.

Something like a book has to work really hard to bring ideas to life, and it makes your brain work hard and slow. That's just one of the limitations of the medium and there are echoes of that in what defined cinema in the era Scorcese grew up in. But our eyes / brain process moving images exceptionally quickly, with sharply contrasting colours playing a big role in that, and loud noises play an important supporting role. Detecting lions in the grasslands and all that. If cinema's development wasn't artificially constrained by those technological limitations then it might be that these loud, colourful blockbuster films might have been defined as the pinnacle of the medium.

That's at the heart of the question Scorcese raised, and underpinned @calodo2003's assessment of the decline of film. The idea that there is a "true" form of cinema, and that it was defined almost a century ago. At the end of the day cinema's just this thing we invented that has been defined and redefined over and over again. Experts like Scorcese should play a role in defining what that is but the default assumption that this recent progression is a decline should be challenged.
In general, I agree, but I do think this lacks some nuance. The most popular books don't necessarily make people think that much either; take the Lord of the Rings series, or the Millennium books, or Harry Potter, and so on. In turn, spectacular cinema can raise questions or issues, like Black Panther (although more through its personnel than anything cinematographic) or The Dark Knight; plus people connect better to issues when they're presented visually than described.

But yes, in general, it's much more obvious in cinema to attract big crowds through an audiovisual extravaganza that lacks substance than to do anything even remotely similar in books.
 

Fingeredmouse

Full Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2014
Messages
3,813
Location
Glasgow
In general, I agree, but I do think this lacks some nuance. The most popular books don't necessarily make people think that much either; take the Lord of the Rings series, or the Millennium books, or Harry Potter, and so on. In turn, spectacular cinema can raise questions or issues, like Black Panther (although more through its personnel than anything cinematographic) or The Dark Knight; plus people connect better to issues when they're presented visually than described.
The Lord of the Rings book does not belong in that list.
 

Fingeredmouse

Full Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2014
Messages
3,813
Location
Glasgow
Because, and I've been down this rabbit hole before on this site, it could not be characterised as a book that "[doesn't] make people think much". It is not the simplistic tale of binary good and evil that it is often portrayed to be and it explores many complex philosophical and theological themes with a profound depth. It is also an intricate, ambitious and idiosyncratic work that, in stark contrast to your characterisation, requires significant thought to be understood and appreciated and it doesn't give up much of its meaning easily.
 

Cheimoon

Up-and-comer
Scout
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
2,505
Location
Canada
Supports
no-one in particular
Because, and I've been down this rabbit hole before on this site, it could not be characterised as a book that "[doesn't] make people think much". It is not the simplistic tale of binary good and evil that it is often portrayed to be and it explores many complex philosophical and theological themes with a profound depth. It is also an intricate, ambitious and idiosyncratic work that, in stark contrast to your characterisation, requires significant thought to be understood and appreciated and it doesn't give up much of its meaning easily.
I'll preface this by saying that I did read LotR, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. It's been ages, but I'd have to read more about your arguments to be convinced; but anyway, that's for that other thread then. (I'll admit that I kinda expected some response to this example. ;) ) If it works better for you, simply replace LotR with any very popular book series that can't really be accused of depth. There are plenty.
 

GazTheLegend

Full Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
1,841
It is rather embarrassing that most of the highest grossing films are animated, fantasy, or super hero drek.

Along with reality TV, it’s just an example of the dumbing down of society.
My thinking is that nowadays the only people that spend money on films are 13-18 year olds and anybody older that regularly pays money to go to the cinema generally isn't the demographic that would watch a Scorsese movie. They've moved on to streaming services etc.
 

HTG

Full Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2011
Messages
2,921
Supports
Bayern
Marvel is like McDonald‘s. I get why young people like it, I know it’s sometimes very convenient to eat there and there’s some comfort involved in eating there, as it’s always exactly the same. It’s not wrong to eat there, even as a grown up. But if your diet consists of nothing else and you genuinely claim, that the food there is just as good as the food in a great restaurant, or even a freshly homecooked meal, it becomes difficult to take you seriously as an adult. Sure, it’s a matter of taste. Even with McDonald‘s. But maybe your taste just sucks and you need to grow up.
 

onemanarmy

Full Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2013
Messages
3,728
Location
Belgium
Marvel is like McDonald‘s. I get why young people like it, I know it’s sometimes very convenient to eat there and there’s some comfort involved in eating there, as it’s always exactly the same. It’s not wrong to eat there, even as a grown up. But if your diet consists of nothing else and you genuinely claim, that the food there is just as good as the food in a great restaurant, or even a freshly homecooked meal, it becomes difficult to take you seriously as an adult. Sure, it’s a matter of taste. Even with McDonald‘s. But maybe your taste just sucks and you need to grow up.
Excellent metaphor. My girlfriend and I both like the more 'intelletual' movies. We love going to small theaters and watching old classics. But recently her father got Disney+ and we are watching all Marvell movies in chronological order. It's fun, it's no nonsense and it pretty good entertainment. It's not high-end cinema, but who cares? The only unfortunate thing is that mainstream cinema nowadays focuses almost entirely on these superhero movies it seems.
 

Mark Pawelek

Full Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2014
Messages
2,256
Location
Kent, near London
In a sense he's right but irrelevant. They're entertainment; which is what counts. Scorsese movies are a different kind of entertainment for people who like mind games / moral tales / meaning. But the only meaning we get in life is through living our life. One can't get meaning by proxy from art or culture. It's as fake as theme parks.
 

Fingeredmouse

Full Member
Joined
Aug 10, 2014
Messages
3,813
Location
Glasgow
I'll preface this by saying that I did read LotR, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. It's been ages, but I'd have to read more about your arguments to be convinced; but anyway, that's for that other thread then. (I'll admit that I kinda expected some response to this example. ;) ) If it works better for you, simply replace LotR with any very popular book series that can't really be accused of depth. There are plenty.
Oh indeed, I get your general point.
 

sullydnl

Ross Kemp's caf ID
Joined
Sep 13, 2012
Messages
22,866
Marvel is like McDonald‘s. I get why young people like it, I know it’s sometimes very convenient to eat there and there’s some comfort involved in eating there, as it’s always exactly the same. It’s not wrong to eat there, even as a grown up. But if your diet consists of nothing else and you genuinely claim, that the food there is just as good as the food in a great restaurant, or even a freshly homecooked meal, it becomes difficult to take you seriously as an adult. Sure, it’s a matter of taste. Even with McDonald‘s. But maybe your taste just sucks and you need to grow up.
100%
 

Pogue Mahone

Poster of the year 2008 & 2020
Joined
Feb 22, 2006
Messages
105,599
Location
"like a man in silk pyjamas shooting pigeons
Marvel is like McDonald‘s. I get why young people like it, I know it’s sometimes very convenient to eat there and there’s some comfort involved in eating there, as it’s always exactly the same. It’s not wrong to eat there, even as a grown up. But if your diet consists of nothing else and you genuinely claim, that the food there is just as good as the food in a great restaurant, or even a freshly homecooked meal, it becomes difficult to take you seriously as an adult. Sure, it’s a matter of taste. Even with McDonald‘s. But maybe your taste just sucks and you need to grow up.
Nailed it.

And in the context of this thread, Scorsese is an accomplished chef who is saying it’s a shame McDonalds is so popular because it sells very basic/shitty food. With McDonalds fans replying that he is old and out of touch and it’s all a matter of personal opinion anyway.
 

Hugh Jass

Shave Dass
Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
6,877
Marvel is like McDonald‘s. I get why young people like it, I know it’s sometimes very convenient to eat there and there’s some comfort involved in eating there, as it’s always exactly the same. It’s not wrong to eat there, even as a grown up. But if your diet consists of nothing else and you genuinely claim, that the food there is just as good as the food in a great restaurant, or even a freshly homecooked meal, it becomes difficult to take you seriously as an adult. Sure, it’s a matter of taste. Even with McDonald‘s. But maybe your taste just sucks and you need to grow up.
This.
 

Vidyoyo

Self-confessed coffee shop chat-up expert
Joined
Jun 12, 2014
Messages
6,168
Location
Awaiting a new life on an off-world colony
In a sense he's right but irrelevant. They're entertainment; which is what counts. Scorsese movies are a different kind of entertainment for people who like mind games / moral tales / meaning. But the only meaning we get in life is through living our life. One can't get meaning by proxy from art or culture. It's as fake as theme parks.
A person is a sense-making machine and these things help to create meaning. Shared experience and all that. Not sure I really agree tbh.
 
Last edited: