Are Superhero Movies Real Cinema?


Oliver Jamias, Contributor

Superhero movies are a relatively new genre that has seen a large boost in popularity. Several long-time movie directors have expressed their opinions on this subject.

Martin Scorsese, director of films such as Goodfellas, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Departed, said in an interview what he thought about the superhero genre, Marvel in particular.

“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.” said the acclaimed director.  “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

Scorsese’s main critic of Marvel movies is that they are created mainly to make money, and that they have almost no real emotion or deeper meaning behind them.  Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, has joined him in saying that the Superhero genre does not count as true cinema.

“I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again… he didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

Many movie makers, such as James Gunn (the director of Guardians of the Galaxy) have disagreed, and rightfully so.  While it is true that many of these stories are similar in their structure, the delivery is what truly matters in the end, and Marvel does an excellent job of meeting that goal.  The whole point of creating a cinematic universe where all the stories are connected is to make a character’s appearance in another work all the more satisfying, provided that the audience knows who they are.  Furthermore, these movies are still arguably able to deliver as much as a message as films like The Godfather and Goodfellas can, as a hero must conquer both their physical and mental flaws in order to be successful.

Scorsese’s main point of Marvel movies not being emotional does not make sense when put side by side with the most recent Marvel movies, most notably Avengers: Endgame.  This specific title is the culmination of a ten year long story-line, and both fans and crew members alike were emotional with its release.  The climatic finger snap scene that occurs during the final battle is a perfect example of how Marvel is able to convey emotion towards the audience.  In this scene, after 22 movies of world building and character development, the audience has to say goodbye to (spoilers) Tony Stark as he gives his life to defeat Thanos.  Not only that, but his last words of “I am Iron Man.” were also the final lines in the first MCU film Iron Man, rewarding any fan who remembers that line with an extremely emotional scene that provides excellent closure for the character.

In the end, Marvel movies are still movies when going by Scorsese’s definition. This is most obvious when looking at the hard work that both actors and crew members do in order to give their fans a multi-movie storyline that is both memorable and satisfying.