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Grumpy Old Filmmakers: Superhero Films Are Very Much Cinema


There is no such thing as correct cinema – The topic of ‘what is true cinema?’ has come up again. Actress Elizabeth Olsen, who stars as Wanda Maximoff/The Scarlet Witch in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has defended superhero movies after being asked about it while promoting Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. According to Ayomikun Adekaiyero of Insider, Olsen has said it “bugs” her when [famous] people criticise the films that take hundreds of people to make. However, while she was referring solely to Marvel films, it can be applied to ALL movies of the genre.

One famous critic of the Marvel franchise is Francis Ford Coppola, best known for the Godfather franchise and for being the uncle of Nicolas Cage. The director told GQ in February that Marvel films were just prototypes made in the same style. Martin Scorsese said something similar, according to another Insider article from 2019. However, he referred to Marvel films as identical to theme park attractions.

Scorsese and Coppola are not the only directors to criticise Marvel. For example, Terry Gilliam criticised Black Panther for not being “well researched” when it was.

Elizabeth hit the nail on the head with her comment. Filmmakers have so many creative liberties with superhero films. Of all these older filmmakers, Coppola should know this better than anyone. As we mentioned earlier, his nephew who is Nicolas Cage profoundly loves Superman. So much so that he named his youngest son Kal-El. At one point, Cage was slated to play big blue in a film that was never made. His stage last name of ‘Cage’ was inspired partly by Marvel superhero Luke Cage, according to an old New York Times article from 1994. The other inspiration was John Cage, a music composer.

Superheroes Are Not All Bad!

Nicolas also wanted to steer away from the constant need for the media to refer to him as Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew. Look at him for thinking of the larger picture. Actors and filmmakers change their names for varying reasons, and that’s okay.

If one thing is apparent, these older filmmakers live in their heads rent-free and here’s why. They don’t want to see the landscape of Hollywood revolving around a method that works. For example, Coppola said that Marvel films are a “prototype.” He’s right in a way, as the format in which Marvel films are made works like a well-oiled machine. If it’s a success, why not keep doing it?

Just because a format works for one film studio doesn’t mean it will work for another. Marvel Studios’ technique works for them, but it doesn’t work for DC films. It’s been attempted but has fallen flat, hence why a lot of the movies released to date have not been smash hits.

It takes time to find the balance for a lot of franchises. Marvel, at one point, struggled because it had the air of white men and sexualised women. A lot has changed between then and now.

No Right or Wrong Way To Be Filmmakers

To conclude, we want to say that there is no right or wrong way to make a film. Every movie that is made is considered art. If you don’t like a type of film, that’s fine, but don’t diminish people’s livelihoods. People who work in all departments of a film’s production need to keep their jobs, and how can they do that when older filmmakers criticise the projects that help them live?

So we beg for all filmmakers out there who might be reading this. Please consider other people working on your projects before you criticise the genre. For all you know, they could be working on a superhero film next.

About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She prides herself as a truth seeker and will do (almost) anything for coffee or Coke No Sugar. Oh! And food!

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