While many filmmakers outside of the current superhero paradigm have commented negatively on the MCU and DCEU’s dominance and their effect on the world of movies at large, the discourse between these naysayers has varied wildly. Some, like Martin Scorsese, write reasoned op-eds for respected publications where they lament the emotional lack they find in these films. Others, like director Terry Gilliam, go on long-reaching rants ending in anti-Black Panther (and anti-PC) sentiments.
Speaking to IndieWire, Gilliam (the director of films like 12 Monkeys and Brazil) started off his anti-superhero screed like others before him. The genre filmmaker was upset that superhero films have dominated the box office, the studio system, and the culture at large. If filmmakers don’t want to play that game, there is ever-dwindling AAA space for their films. “I don’t like the fact they’re dominating the place so much,” Gilliam said. “They’re taking all the money that should be available for a greater variety of films. Technically, they’re brilliant. I can’t fault them because the technical skills involved in making them are incredible.”
But technical skill isn’t enough for the filmmaker, whose films have always possessed a certain shagginess and character. In this current landscape, it seems like these movies are fewer and farther between. “There isn’t room or money for a greater range of films. You make a film for over $150 million or less than $10 [million]. Where’s all this other stuff? It doesn’t exist anymore,” Gilliam said.
But then Gilliam got specific. Not only was he upset with superhero cinema as a broad concept, he “hated Black Panther.” His criticism on the film from director Ryan Coogler, the first superhero film in the modern MCU to focus on a black protagonist (or feature a predominantly black cast), were couched in both ideology and perceived ideas of authenticity. “It makes me crazy. It gives young black kids the idea that this is something to believe in. Bull****. It’s utter bull****. I think the people who made it have never been to Africa,” Gilliam said of the South Africa, Zambia, and Uganda-shot film.
Gilliam wasn’t just hung up on his idea that kids should have non-superhero role models, but the very aesthetics of the film. Speaking of the legendary Ruth E. Carter, who became the first black person to win the Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work on the film, Gilliam said, “They went and got some stylist for some African pattern fabrics and things.” Continuing, the helmer of the embattled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote explained, “But I just I hated that movie, partly because the media were going on about the importance of bull****.”
Many critics of the current Disney-led dominance of superhero films have expressed similar ideas when referring to the financial and creative landscape of the industry, but Gilliam is unique in his specific hatred for the Wakandan adventure.