Martin Scorsese Says the Danger of Franchise and Comic Book Movies Is ‘What It’s Doing to Our Culture’

“There are going to be generations now that think movies are only those — that’s what movies are,” Scorsese says

Martin Scorsese
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Yes, Martin Scorsese still isn’t a huge fan of comic book movies. But he largely takes issue with the glut of franchise films flooding the theatrical marketplace, and worries about their long-term effects on the film industry and filmgoing public.

In a new profile in GQ, the director revealed that, originally, Warner Bros. wanted to make “The Departed” a franchise and pushed to have either Matt Damon or Leonardo DiCaprio’s character live so they could continue the story. That deeply upset Scorsese at the time, and still does today.

The director explained that his concern is that studios’ heavy preference for franchise films is pushing out other kinds of films, thus training audiences to expect only comic book movies and franchises at the movie theatre.

“There are going to be generations now that think movies are only those — that’s what movies are,” he said.

The director conceded though that “they already think that,” which means filmmakers “have to then fight back stronger.”

“And it’s got to come from the grassroots level,” he said. “It’s gotta come from the filmmakers themselves. And you’ll have, you know, the Safdie brothers, and you’ll have Chris Nolan, you know what I mean? And hit ’em from all sides. Hit ’em from all sides, and don’t give up.”

Yes, Nolan made three “Batman” films, but the filmmaker has also become one of the few to secure big budgets from major Hollywood studios for original, non-franchise films like “Inception” and “Oppenheimer.”

Scorsese continued, “Let’s see what you got. Go out there and do it. Go reinvent. Don’t complain about it. But it’s true, because we’ve got to save cinema.”

The Oscar-winning “Killers of the Flower Moon” director clarified that “cinema” doesn’t have to be deep, serious stories (he cited the comedy “Some Like It Hot” as cinema as well), he just thinks “that the manufactured content isn’t really cinema.” He also clarified that he doesn’t “want to say” this, and dug in even further on what he meant by “manufactured content.”

“It’s almost like AI making a film. And that doesn’t mean that you don’t have incredible directors and special effects people doing beautiful artwork,” he said. “But what does it mean? What do these films, what will it give you? Aside from a kind of consummation of something and then eliminating it from your mind, your whole body, you know? So what is it giving you?”

You can read GQ’s full interview with Scorsese here.

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