So now Quentin Tarantino has jumped on the anti-Marvel bandwagon.
“When you say, despite the sequels and the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and all of that, I actually think a war for movies got played out this last year,” Tarantino told Deadline recently. “As far as I can see, the commercial product that is owned by the conglomerates, the projects everybody knows about and has in their DNA, whether it be the Marvel Comics, the Star Wars, Godzilla and James Bond, those films never had a better year than last year. It would have been the year that their world domination would have been complete. But it kind of wasn’t.”
Tarantino went on to say that cinema of the non-blockbuster variety “made its last stand last year.” He went on to credit his own movie, “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” as being important in this war. “If it hadn’t done it this year, it might have been the last stand for movies like that.”
Well. Don’t pull a muscle patting yourself on the back, Mr. T. Especially when you’re spouting nonsense. Tarantino is just the latest auteur to take a swing at Marvel movies, similar fare from Warner Bros. (DC Comics) and others. And while I firmly believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, these kinds of comments are not just wrong and petty, but self-serving.
Because when I hear Tarantino, or Martin Scorsese, or Francis Ford Coppola, or James Cameron, or Terry Gilliam complain about Marvel movies, a translation spontaneously occurs in my head. What I hear is, “I don’t want people to like the movies other people make. I want them to like the movies I make.”
Take Scorsese, who kicked off this debate. “That’s not cinema,” Scorsese said of Marvel movies to Empire Magazine last year. “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.”
Seriously? “Black Panther” inspired people. “Thor: Ragnarok” thrilled us, and made us laugh, too. “Avengers: Endgame” left the audience at my screening in tears. “Joker” was terrifying. That is the very definition of filmmakers “trying to convey emotional ... experiences to another human being.”
Scorsese is an expert in his field. Obviously he has a very narrow definition of “cinema,” which is fine. But he doesn’t get to define it for the rest of us. The filmmakers who malign these movies are doing so at their own peril. It looks like intellectual snobbery. It looks like bullying. I was bullied as a kid for reading comics, a less-than-popular hobby at the time. But I found inspiration in another slightly-built, bespectacled bookworm named Peter Parker. I learned a thing or two about character. At the very least, I learned not to attack other people’s hobbies because I don’t share them.
Marvel movies offer the same lessons. Maybe these filmmakers would benefit from watching a Marvel movie or two.