10 Filmmakers Who Have Criticized Superhero Movies and My Top 10 Features from them [Linwood’s Picks]
Although I’m quite fond of a handful of superhero films, enjoy several of them, and grew up with the comic books that inspire their adaptations, I would be lying if I said that the critiques of countless filmmakers concerning the quality of the genre didn’t make points that I agree with. It’s rare that one sparks an intelligent conversation between myself and peers or colleagues, which is what I feel that art should do. Anything less is simply a product meant to entertain and while I don’t mind that, too much of its acceptance does lower the bar of expectations, especially in regard to storytelling. I generally shy away from the genre as a writer because of the moral constraints set by the usual target demographic that consists of children and young adults. There’s less concern about provoking the thoughts of audiences with these pictures than there is with making sure they are comfortably strapped in for a rollercoaster ride. Both Marvel and DC have had problems with keeping acclaimed directors because of their refusal to let them shape a project without interference.
A good movie without a groundbreaking vision will always be underwhelming in a sea of others with the same checkboxes, even if it’s given positive reviews.
A lackluster movie that brings something new to the table will always be remembered for it, despite mixed reception.
Ideally, a filmmaker should strive to set their project apart from the rest and be great. For this list, I’ve gathered ten filmmakers who have spoken out against the superhero genre and a film from each that I personally hold in high regard.
JOHN WOO – ‘THE KILLER’
“I’m concerned about when these movies get more and more popular, I’m afraid it will make young audiences get lost when it comes to knowledge about film,” Woo said.
MARTIN SCORSESE – ‘THE DEPARTED’
“I don’t see them. 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.” – Scorsese said.
DAVID CRONENBERG – ‘A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE’
“I don’t think they are making them an elevated art form,” he said of top-shelf filmmakers and their tentpole pics. “I think it’s still Batman running around in a stupid cape. I just don’t think it’s elevated. Christopher Nolan‘s best movie is Memento, and that is an interesting movie. I don’t think his Batman movies are half as interesting, though they’re 20 million times the expense.” – Cronenberg said.
DAVID FINCHER – ‘THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO’
“There’s really only two seasons for movies. There’s ‘spandex summer’ and there’s ‘affliction winter’. You’re making your movie for one of two seasons. And if you miss, you’ll fall into one of those other two seasons, which are nominally dumping grounds. Does that make sense?” – Fincher said.
BONG JOON-HO – ‘SNOWPIERCER’
“I respect the creativity that goes into [super]hero films, but in real life and in movies, I can’t stand people wearing tight-fitting clothes. I’ll never wear something like that, but just seeing someone in tight clothes is mentally difficult. I don’t know where to look and I feel suffocated.” – Bong Joon-Ho said.
TERRY GILLIAM – 12 MONKEYS
“It’s bullshit. Come on, grow up! We’re not going to be teenagers for the rest of our lives. It’s great to dream of great powers. Superheroes are all about power. That’s what I don’t like about superheroes. They’ve gotta beat the other powerful superheroes. Come on, a bit of peace, love, and understanding is what we need,” said Gilliam.
DENIS VILLENEUVE – BLADE RUNNER 2049
“Perhaps the problem is that we are in front of too many Marvel movies that are nothing more than a ‘cut and paste’ of others,” Villeneuve said. “Perhaps these types of movies have turned us into zombies a bit… But big and expensive movies of great value there are many today. I don’t feel capable of being pessimistic at all.
“If we’re talking about Marvel, the thing is, all these films are made from the same mold. Some filmmakers can add a little color to it, but they’re all cast in the same factory. It doesn’t take anything away from the movies, but they are formatted.” – Villeneuve said.
FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA – THE GODFATHER
“When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration…I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again. Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.” – Coppola said.
RIDLEY SCOTT – AMERICAN GANGSTER
“They’re fucking boring as shit. Their scripts are not any fucking good. I think I’ve done three great scripted superhero movies. One would be Alien with Sigourney Weaver. One would be Gladiator, and one would be [Blade Runner].” Scott said.
FERNANDO MEIRELLES – ‘CITY OF GOD’
“I can’t disagree with Scorsese because I don’t watch [Marvel movies]. I watched a ‘Spider-Man’ eight years ago, and that was it. I’m not interested.” – Meirelles said.