Disney CEO Bob Iger was the latest to leap to the defense of Marvel movies in the recent civil war among filmmakers over the blockbusters, pointing to Ryan Coogler’s Best Picture-nominated “Black Panther” as worthy as being called “cinema” as any film Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola have made.
Iger got heated on the subject as part of the WSJ Tech Live event Tuesday night after both Scorsese, Coppola and a handful of other auteur filmmakers have criticized the movies, with Coppola most recently calling the films “despicable.”
“I’m puzzled by it. If they want to bitch about movies it’s certainly their right. It seems so disrespectful to all the people who work on those films who are working just as hard as the people who are working on their films and are putting their creative souls on the line just like they are,” Iger said of filmmakers’ comments. “Are you telling me that Ryan Coogler making ‘Black Panther’ is doing something that somehow or another is less than anything Marty Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola have ever done on any one of their movies? Come on.”
Iger says he holds Coppola and Scorsese in “the highest regard,” but he took issue with Coppola’s characterization of the films as “despicable,” and that he’d only reserve that word “for someone who had committed mass murder.”
“When Francis uses the words ‘those films are despicable,’ to whom is he talking? Is he talking to Kevin Feige who runs Marvel, or Taika Waititi who directs or Ryan Coogler who directs for us or Scarlett Johansson,” Iger said. “I don’t get what they’re criticizing us for when we’re making films that people are obviously enjoying going to because they’re doing so by the millions.”
Scorsese recently doubled down on his comments when he said that Marvel movies were not cinema and compared them to “theme parks.” He ultimately said that Marvel’s films were “invading” movie theaters and replacing what young people’s idea of cinema is, even driving out smaller films and more human stories from the popular culture.
Ken Loach, the British director behind “Kes” and the recent “Sorry We Missed You,” more specifically attacked the commercialism of Marvel films rather than their content specifically.
“They’re made as commodities like hamburgers, and it’s not about communicating, and it’s not about sharing our imagination,” Loach told Sky News. “It’s about making a commodity which will make a profit for a big corporation – they’re a cynical exercise. They’re a market exercise, and it has nothing to do with the art of cinema. William Blake said, ‘When money is discussed, art is impossible.'”
Iger however had a response for that as well, saying that there’s a mutual benefit in the success of the Marvel films and other blockbusters that allows movie theaters to exhibit movies that otherwise wouldn’t be as financially successful.
Check out Iger’s full comments via WSJ.