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SYFY WIRE Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese op-ed clarifies (again) his feelings on MCU and 'elimination of risk'

By Christian Long
Martin Scorsese 2019 NYFF

Ever since Martin Scorsese made an off-hand remark last month about how Marvel movies are "not cinema," it's set off a chain reaction, which included a number of filmmakers ranging from Francis Ford Copolla to Roger Corman and James Gunn all weighing in on the matter. 

Now, in an op-ed for The New York Times, Scorsese once again offers up his thoughts on the MCU, as well as how franchise filmmaking is just one facet of a rapidly changing industry. And while he doubles down on his line that Marvel movies are more akin to theme parks, he again admits there's a tremendous amount of talent involved in their production. 

Still, he maintains that his outlook comes purely from his own "personal taste and temperament," even admitting that, if circumstances were a little different, that opinion might be dramatically different. 

"I know that if I were younger, if I’d come of age at a later time, I might have been excited by these pictures and maybe even wanted to make one myself," Scorsese wrote. "But I grew up when I did and I developed a sense of movies — of what they were and what they could be — that was as far from the Marvel universe as we on Earth are from Alpha Centauri."

As one of the prodigies to come out of the 'New Hollywood' movement of the 1970s, Scorsese, like many of his equally outspoken contemporaries, were keen on reinventing how movies were used to tell stories. Now, with franchises like the MCU relying on a tried-and-true formula, the director chalks it up to the "elimination of risk."

"Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption. Many of them are well made by teams of talented individuals. All the same, they lack something essential to cinema: the unifying vision of an individual artist. Because, of course, the individual artist is the riskiest factor of all."

Of course, at the heart of the essay is simply a filmmaker who loves movies, who once again makes a plea to both theater owners and audiences to actively seek out cinematic alternatives to billion-dollar tentpole films. It also seems that there's plenty of room to compromise, given that Scorsese served as a major inspiration for Todd Phillips' Joker, and even considered joining the film himself. Ultimate he wasn't directly involved, but the villain-centric DC flick even wrote itself into the director's 1982 classic The King of Comedy

You can read Scorsese's entire op-ed here. In the meantime, the director's latest epic, The Irishman, will hit Netflix on Nov. 27 after a brief theatrical run. Clocking in at three-and-a-half hours, it's a bit of a return-to-form for the legendary filmmaker, who's most revered films are set in the criminal underworld.