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Martin Scorsese is urging filmmakers to save cinema, by doubling down on his call to fight comic book movie culture.

The storied filmmaker is revisiting the topic of comic book movies in a new profile for GQ. Despite facing intense blowback from filmmakers, actors and the public for the 2019 comments he made slamming the Marvel Cinematic Universe films — he called them theme parks rather than actual cinema — Scorsese isn’t shying away from the topic.

“The danger there is what it’s doing to our culture,” he told GQ. “Because there are going to be generations now that think ... that’s what movies are.”

GQ’s Zach Baron posited that what Scorsese was saying might already be true, and the “Killers of the Flower Moon” filmmaker agreed.

“They already think that. Which means that we have to then fight back stronger. And it’s got to come from the grassroots level. It’s gotta come from the filmmakers themselves,” Scorsese continued to the outlet. “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. ... Go reinvent. Don’t complain about it. But it’s true, because we’ve got to save cinema.”

Scorsese referred to movies inspired by comic books as “manufactured content” rather than cinema.

“It’s almost like AI making a film,” he said. “And that doesn’t mean that you don’t have incredible directors and special effects people doing beautiful artwork. But what does it mean? What do these films, what will it give you?”

His forthcoming film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” had been on Scorsese’s wish list for several years; it’s based on David Grann’s 2017 nonfiction book of the same name. He called the story “a sober look at who we are as a culture.”

The film tells the true story of the murders of Osage Nation members by white settlers in the 1920s. DiCaprio originally was attached to play FBI investigator Tom White, who was sent to the Osage Nation within Oklahoma to probe the killings. The script, however, underwent a significant rewrite.

“After a certain point,” the filmmaker told Time, “I realized I was making a movie about all the white guys.”

The dramatic focus shifted from White’s investigation to the Osage and the circumstances that led to them being systematically killed with no consequences.

The character of White now is played by Jesse Plemons in a supporting role. DiCaprio stars as the husband of a Native American woman, Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone), an oil-rich Osage woman, and member of a conspiracy to kill her loved ones in an effort to steal her family fortune.

Scorsese worked closely with Osage Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and his office from the beginning of production, consulting producer Chad Renfro told Time. On the first day of shooting, the Oscar-winning filmmaker had an elder of the nation come to set to say a prayer for the cast and crew.

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[–] MIDItheKID 137 points 9 months ago* (last edited 9 months ago) (33 children)

I mean, he's not wrong. But there has always been a ton of shitty action movies with the same cut and paste plot. Marvel just tweaked the formula.

And it's not like good movies aren't still being made. The Marvel movies are historically bad at winning awards. There have been a handful of nominations, but not a lot of wins. The wins always go to good movies that deserve them.

Sure, the Marvel movies pull in more money than other movies, but the money makers are usually trash. Marvel is like the McDonald's of movies. It's going to pull in way more money than a fine dining establishment, but not because it's good, because it's the garbage that the public will take out their wallet for. There is space in the market for both of these things.

[–] [email protected] 44 points 9 months ago (3 children)

There is space in the market for both of these things.

Not so sure about that, and that might be the problem. Marvel/Disney is both rather monocultural and a ridiculously huge draw and brand that can suck the oxygen out of the marketing ecosystem. It could be true that the comic cinema industry is genuinely taking eyes off of other things and creating a less diverse cinema experience per capita. Even if for most people it's only marginal, a slightly alternative take on an action or hero film with a slightly different angle or message or style is still diversity that might be important and valuable.

It would be interesting to compare this to the action and block buster movies of the past. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that there was a noticeable diversity and I'm going to say thoughtfulness amongst big films of the past compared to today. I'm open to being wrong of course, but it's worth thinking about, just because big-corp monopolisation can easily have these effects.

I'm partly influenced by a recent rewatch of Jurassic Park and noticing how subtly thoughtful it was while also being basically a straight action film (after the set up at least). There's even a moment (when they first see the raptors being fed) that's basically kinda vegan message or at least a critique or contrast between humans and "the monsters" of the film, done entirely but very clearly through editing and directing ... it was really nice actually.

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[–] niktemadur 34 points 9 months ago (3 children)

In the late-70s/80s it was slasher movies. In the 80s/90s it was Rambo-style action movies, or Lethal Weapon and Fatal Attraction-style thrillers.
There have always been Hollywood bandwagons.

The difference is that back then the major studios made a bunch of films of all scopes and budgets, while today those same studios make fewer, more expensive movies.
If Scorsese was a young man today - or Robert Altman or William Friedkin, whoever - he probably wouldn't get a chance to make a Raging Bull, he'd be steered towards a superhero film with - of course - NO final cut. The one exception is Christopher Nolan. And even he did an entire superhero TRILOGY.

Taking what Marty is saying and putting it another way - major studio content is not driven by a director's creative vision in the current environment, but by producers... the suits and their market research.

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[–] themeatbridge 77 points 9 months ago (3 children)

I love his movies, but this feels like an "Old Man Yells at Cloud" story.

[–] GrammatonCleric 41 points 9 months ago (4 children)

C'mon bro-- comic book movies have even ruined comic book movies at this point 😅

[–] [email protected] 29 points 9 months ago

The thing is though, Low effort, high special effect action, action over plot moviesis nothing new, before marvel it was transformers and so on all the way back to shoot em up westerns at the dawn of cinema.

Its not like before the MCU, you're average movie goer was watching super artistic cerebral movies, and comic book movies took that all away, like this guy is acting

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[–] [email protected] 13 points 9 months ago (1 children)

It absolutely is yelling at clouds.
They're just fun scifi westerns, not the end of cinema.

[–] Decoy321 37 points 9 months ago* (last edited 9 months ago) (1 children)

It's just a catchy headline to mask the real point of this article: to advertise his new movie.

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[–] ChickenLadyLovesLife 57 points 9 months ago (4 children)

"Let's get back to making movies about the mafia!" lol

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[–] [email protected] 44 points 9 months ago* (last edited 9 months ago) (3 children)

Huh, I remember reading his critique around when Endgame was coming out and thought he just didn't get it.

Now, after years of the shit the MCU has been pushing out, I see he was ahead of our time.

[–] [email protected] 13 points 9 months ago (3 children)

The multiverse could have been so cool, but they went about it ass backwards. They introduce Kaang in a 'quiet' part of the overall story, where no one really has any stakes and we have little investment in anyone's stories. Everyone is kinda doing their own things, mainly dealing with the aftermath of Endgame. Even Spider-Man, who we should be feeling protective of, decides to have a reset. We didn't care about Kaang because we no long had an investment in any character.

Then we're supposed to feel scared of Kaang? And then in >!Quantumania they straight up just strip him of all mystique to the point the end shot of that movie is just comical with the arena full of Kaang's making the character have 0 remaining intrigue. !< Even had the stuff with Masters not happened they'd lost their chances to make it interesting. Paired with Skrull just not really resonating with the audience at all, it has been misstep after misstep.

!imo the only way you fix it now is have Doom come in the the F4, outright murder Kaang as the actual universal badass and then switch back to the personal less connected stories to tell a series of Invasion stories as the universe crumbles. Lead up to Fox-verse Vs MCU showdown. Then have a battleworld at the end of it and just reset the whole thing.!<

Basically, in trying to make a mainstream product they've ended up with something no one really cares about.

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[–] [email protected] 43 points 8 months ago* (last edited 8 months ago) (9 children)

It's been that way for a loooong time.

Movies became so expensive to produce that studios can't finance them themselves.

So they turned to the banks.

Banks are by nature risk averse.

So a production company has to submit an application to their bank's movie financing department like you would when applying for a home loan.

The bank decides whether to finance the movie based on the information submitted: Script, subject matter, director, which stars have committed to the project, etc.

Now if you imagine, people from the banking industry are not artists and creatives and visionaries. They just look at raw investment potential, i.e. Is this proposed production going to pay off the loan with interest?

If there's any risk, e.g. this has never been done before, or there's no recognizable franchise branding, or if something could be controversial in a meaningful way, the bank won't approve the production loan.

So sequels, brand name franchises, with writing committees, are easier to get approvals from the banks, therefore are more likely to make it into production.

That's why Hollywood doesn't make daring, experimental, and controversial movies much anymore.

[–] rip_art_bell 26 points 8 months ago (1 children)

Capitalism ruins everything.

[–] [email protected] 18 points 8 months ago

Enshittification doesn't just happen to online platforms.

[–] [email protected] 18 points 8 months ago (1 children)

And it's not just movies.

Hit song analysis systems like Platinum Blue, aka Music XRay, use algorithms to compare new songs to hit songs of the past to rate the chances that they will become hits themselves.

This is why all new songs sound the same and there are so many cover versions.

New songs are scored by hit song analysis system(s) and have to achieve a high score showing how much they resemble previous hit songs before money is allocated for promotion.

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[–] [email protected] 42 points 9 months ago* (last edited 9 months ago) (8 children)

I mean, can't we just have both? On some days I want to see a silly lighthearted action movie and on some days I want to see a heart wrenching story about the deepest darkest recesses of the human mind. It's not a zero sum game.

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[–] [email protected] 42 points 9 months ago

People who disparage Marty forget or don't know that he has been a fierce proponent and heavy financial supporter of film restoration through companies like Milestone Films for more than three decades now. If you ever enjoyed world cinema, the films of Kalatozov, Pasolini, Buñuel, Murnau and many more, there is a decent chance you were able to enjoy them in good quality through the direct efforts of Martin Scorsese and others.

“Because there are going to be generations now that think … that’s what movies are.”

should be understood in this context as well. We owe him so much gratitude for keeping the language of film alive.

[–] nostradiel 33 points 9 months ago (22 children)

He's right. Not that comic book movies are bad but how they are made is bad (also other movies nowadays). Batman trilogy is magnificent and I don't like comic books.. It's all about constant action and no plot and thrilling parts to graduate the plot. You don't need bambilion of explosions to have a good movie (Joker).

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[–] [email protected] 31 points 9 months ago

I don't think that's true. While the newest MCU movie were not doing as well as they were before, outside these main cinematic universe there have been some great recent comic book movies: the two Spiderverse movies are such absolute delights and some of the best animated movies ever made, and "The Batman" and "Joker" are fantastic as well. (Let's... not talk about the DCEU.)

I wonder if he would consider "The Departed" to be "manufactured content" by his own definition as well, considering the fact it is much more than merely "inspired" by "Infernal Affairs". Just sayin'.

[–] [email protected] 31 points 8 months ago (7 children)

My take on it is eventually viewers will tire of the genre, and it will fade out into the background like most other genres. Dramas were all the rage in the 40s, Westerns were very popular in the 50s, in the 70s and 80s you have disaster films and pure action type stuff that was incredibly popular, the 90s had the start of some very popular independent films, and the late 90s and early aughts had a lot of popular fantasy/epics and animation films.

None of those genres completely went away, and some have had resurgence from time to time. Comic based movies won't be dominating forever. There was and still are a lot of complaints about the movies made in the previous couple decades, and I think it says something that people are finding these comic stories so compelling. I think "Hollywood" needs to look in a mirror to remind themselves why these types of movies have became so popular... is it just everyone attached to beautiful art and special effects? Or is it perhaps that maybe their storytelling wasn't as great, or original as they thought, and they are losing out to stories written decades ago because they are just simply more interesting?

[–] [email protected] 12 points 8 months ago

Yeah, people remember a handful of classic war movies or westerns and think that era was magical but for every great film there was a hundred terrible cookie cutter cash grabs.

I would love to see some more directors focus on making great art but the reality is that's incredibly hard.

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[–] chemical_cutthroat 28 points 9 months ago* (last edited 9 months ago) (6 children)

Remember before Marvel movies, when we had such hits as Encino Man, Problem Child, Speed 2: Cruise Control, and and Cocktail? I've got news for you, Marty, cinema has been killing cinema since the dawn of cinema, and yet cinema survives. There will always be movies that someone doesn't like that make a FUCK ton of money. Then there will be the passion projects that gain a cult following decades after the fact. If you are lucky, you get a little of both sides of the coin, but most aren't. Get off your high-art horse and enjoy some escapism, not everyone has a 9 figure net worth, some of us need to forget how much life sucks and watch a guy with a hammer beat alien skulls into paste.

[–] [email protected] 12 points 9 months ago (1 children)

Hey now, let’s leave Encino Man out of this.

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[–] [email protected] 26 points 9 months ago (1 children)

I hate super hero movies you know what I do? I don't watch them..there's nothing to be saved ...studios will stop making those terrible movies once people stop watching them..if there is a lot of audience there's no meaning in stop producing..

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[–] [email protected] 24 points 9 months ago (2 children)

Remember that Martin Scorsese's last big movie was The Irishman, so he isn't saving the movie industry either.

Also, Hugo was based on a comic book, so kind of hypocritical.

[–] [email protected] 23 points 9 months ago (1 children)

Notice how there wasn’t 11 sequels and offshoots to Hugo?

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[–] [email protected] 12 points 8 months ago

Also, Hugo was based on a comic book …

More an illustrated novel than a comic book. Also, there are great ~~comic books~~ graphic novels. I feel that his criticism is more of the formulaic and shallow plot and characters frequently associated with comic books, rather than the medium itself.

[–] [email protected] 21 points 9 months ago (6 children)

Couldn't agree more. I enjoyed some of the superhero movies from the early 2000s because they had good stories, they were clearly made by people passionate about them and they felt novel at the time. Things went downhill over the next decade or so and then I saw The Avengers and thought it was one of the worst movies I've ever seen and couldn't understand why anyone would like it. Further, the people who did like it, all told me the same thing, that you need to watch half a dozen other movies first. Why? Who in their right mind makes that decision as a producer? The Avengers is a movie with no character arcs, no plot build up, no introduction, and nothing the characters do feels like it has any weight and you know they're more or less invincible. It's boring garbage and people love it to death. I haven't really watched many superhero movies since, especially Marvel.

[–] [email protected] 11 points 9 months ago* (last edited 8 months ago)

Who in their right mind makes that decision as a producer?

Business-people obviously and sadly. I mean movies have always been a business first, but since there are now basically only 2 or three large companies left with a much larger share of the income they can much better predict the expected income. Everything becomes more efficient. Before with thousands of little studios competing each individual project was kind of hustling around in all kinds of directions. It was hit or miss at random basically. And a small studio doesn't do focus-grouping in order to increase a movies financial success - that would be much too expensive for a small project. Those things only make sense financially if your movie is fairly large OR your company already has a well oiled marketing-department that focus-groups for basically every movie automatically. But with focus-groups you obviously always aim for what most people like. It's like the lowest denominator. That's why so many things feel so boring in marvel/disney-productions. There's no too room for random happy accidents.

I still have hopes for cinema though, since the incredible rise of the A24 brand in recent years for me is a clear signal that people are fed up with this marvel/disney-monoculture-assembly-line that clogges up the cinemas. One major aspect of the disney-death-star is that Disney basically prevents other productions from materializing. They even prevent some of their own projects from materializing as their planning shows them that N large movies a year is about the most they can extract from the movie-going audience. So they will not produce more big budget blockbusters, because that would only waste money. (If that doesn't make sense think about this: the more blockbuster you release each year the less it will be watched as you reach a saturation at a certain point. As a studio you try to release big-budget movies at times at which they don't have to compete with similar movies. Disney being the biggest player - aka the "disney-death-star" that has gobbled up pixar/marvel/star-wars and the entire 20th century fox IP/franchises - is defining what is and isn't possible to be released during a year (and making a profit with reasonable likelihood)).

Similar with competitors: They know that their big budget movie will have to compete with e.g. Marvels new this-and-that that weekend (or another Disney release at another time) and will not produce a movie. Disney is clogging up the cinemas with their grey goo.

A24 simply made movies that are different and not aimed at everyone. That simple idea was e extremely radical.

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[–] [email protected] 19 points 8 months ago

heres the thing, comic book movies as a concept arent bad but theyre executed terribly. disney and dc both fucking suck horrendously, thwyre unbearable

[–] [email protected] 17 points 9 months ago (5 children)

It's kind of amusing that he mentioned Christopher Nolan as a possible ally in his grassroots campaign of filmmakers extolling the virtues of cinema. Christopher Nolan who made a massive comic book movie trilogy. That Christopher Nolan?

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[–] [email protected] 16 points 8 months ago

Once X-Men hit at the box office, all the movie studios snatched up every single comic property they could get their greedy little hands on.

[–] [email protected] 14 points 8 months ago (2 children)

He has a point and i would personally always prefer one of his movies over anything Marvel/DC but just let people enjoy what they want, Jesus.

And what actually saved the cinemas sure wasn't Hugo or his Netflix film Irishman but all those multi billion comic book blockbusters. Not sure how many cinemas would still exist without them.

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[–] Coreidan 14 points 9 months ago (8 children)

The movie business has been dog shit for a long time now. Whether they continue making these shitty movies makes no difference at the end of the day.

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[–] [email protected] 13 points 9 months ago* (last edited 9 months ago) (10 children)

What a coincidence that he's got a movie that's "fighting back" *checks watch* oh right about now! 🙄

Not only is this ridiculous (and untrue) fearmongering about the death of "real cinema" from an old man scared for his own relevance, it's such blatant self-promotion it's sickening. Dude would be better served being silent and maintaining his (admittedly deserved) reputation and prestige in the art form instead of tarnishing it with foolish declarations like this.

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[–] WaltJRimmer 13 points 9 months ago

It's weird to me that he's lumping all comic book movies together and acting like they're the problem. We keep having trash movies churned out by studios because they make money. That's been true since at least the nineteen-forties if not earlier. Hell, I'm really just talking about the ones where enough of them still survive that you can go find them. Earlier, in the silent era, yeah, you had trash get made quickly and churned out so that people would pay a dime to watch it. I don't get how a single genre is supposed to be the culmination that's ruining cinema.

But, here's the thing. Have movies changed over the years? Absolutely. Scorcesie's movies have changed over the years! His style has changed, his vision has changed. What sells tickets has changed. How studios are producing films based on what they think will make them money has changed. It's been discussed before that the fall of video rentals and the rise of streaming has changed what kinds of movies studios are willing to put their money behind and how they're less likely to take a risk on something than they used to be. That's a problem. That's a big problem because it's reduced the number of small-budget and medium-budget studio films. None of that can be blamed on comic book adaptations.

And there's nothing inherently wrong with a comic book adaptation. Marvel movies are overly formulaic and especially since Disney bought them overly safe. Even in the ones I like, I can just feel that Disney touch that makes me go, "Ew," sometimes. DC's movies have been mismanaged with an unfit vision helming its original run from the start. So the big series, yes, I'll admit, they're kind of shit cinema. I still enjoy some of them, but they're kind of shit cinema. There are plenty of shit crime movies and thrillers and other things like that, but I'm not going to start yelling about how they're killing cinema and we have to fight against them. Why do comic book adaptations get singled out as artless trash when there's a constant stream of hollow feel-good romance films that get churned out every year? Do those formulaic vacuous sap-fests (some of which I love and will watch whenever I need a good cry, I'm really not knocking them) really merit a pass yet for some reason comic books require this war be waged by filmmakers against them? I really don't see how they're the problem.

And you can come in and say things like, "He's just stirring the pot to promote his film," but I don't think so. Scorsese has had a lot to say about modern filmmaking even when he doesn't have a project on the table. He's talked about his feelings on modern film culture, comic book adaptations, using the word content to describe any form of media, and more. I really don't think he's doing it to bring attention to any project so much as he just really feels very strongly that movies have changed and change is bad? Is that really what it is? Because some of the stuff he sees as a problem, yeah, I agree, it's an issue. But other stuff like this, even if there is a problem, your aim at what the problem really is is just completely off.

[–] qwertyqwertyqwerty 13 points 8 months ago (2 children)

Not every film can be a cinematic masterpiece. I wouldn't want to watch nothing but masterpieces, it would be exhausting. On the flip side, there can absolutely be comic book movies that are masterpieces. Logan comes to mind.

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[–] [email protected] 13 points 9 months ago

The answer is obviously more de-aged De Niro. We must determine how young he can play so I say we remake Three Men and a Baby with De Niro playing the baby. Quick, somebody call Steve Guttenberg!

[–] [email protected] 13 points 9 months ago (1 children)

Those comic book movies are keeping theaters open, so there are screens even in existence to show Scorsese movies. He ought to be grateful.

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[–] [email protected] 12 points 9 months ago (5 children)

This is no different than an old man ranting that music was better in his day.

[–] kava 11 points 9 months ago (2 children)

I think movies and music have developed differently with rise of technology. The barrier to entry for making music and having it become popular has dramatically changed. You could in theory make a short song, have it go viral on the short videos (Tiktok, IG Reels, YT Shorts, etc) and you can in theory become a household name.

You don't need a big company mediating that. Anyone with a shitty laptop and some free time can take a go at this.

Movies? Not so much. A movie requires millions of dollars and then requires big companies to handle distribution, advertisement, production, etc.

This difference creates a sort of competition in the music industry, keeping the record companies in check whereas that simply doesn't exist in the movie industry. They are different animals. If independent movie makers could easily make successful movies without big companies, then I think it would be different.

Having said all that, Talk To Me was made by a couple of YouTubers and that is having a lot of success and honestly is a great movie. So maybe it's changing in the movie industry too

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