Martin Scorsese On Superhero Movies: ‘That’s Not Cinema’

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Over the last decade, the superhero movie has grown into a cultural phenomenon far beyond anything we’ve seen in the past. Of course, not everyone appreciates this trend, with a wide range of skeptics criticizing adult fans for embracing childlike subject matter. While some of this criticism is justified—the sheer volume of superhero movies is undeniably excessive—there’s also the sense that some critics are focusing too much on the surface, missing the mythological weight and pop cultural cross-referencing that distinguishes the best of these films. However, a more nuanced critique has emerged from at least one prominent non-believer: legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese.

As someone who believes in the visceral potential of cinema, he recognizes some merit in superhero movies, but he also acknowledges the sub-genre’s tendency toward a simplistic worldview that falls well short of the medium’s potential for meaningful reflection on the human condition. “I don’t see them,” he told Empire. “I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema. Honestly, the closest I can think of them—as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances—is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

Based on early reviews, Scorsese once again offers a refreshing dose of depth and humanity in his new film The Irishman, which arrives in theatres on November 1. Check out the trailer below.