Yesterday, Francis Ford Coppola, director of such legendary films as The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II and Apocalypse Now pitched in on the ongoing backlash against Marvel Movies. Without hesitation, he called them “despicable”, echoing Scorcese’s sentiment that the movies are far from cinema and in fact, detrimental to the filmmaking industry. Now, James Gunn, director of both Guardians of the Galaxy films and DC’s upcoming The Suicide Squad weighs in on the controversy kicked off by these auteurs.
Gunn’s note is best read in its entirety (republished below) and calls upon the sense of innocence and wonder experienced by the inner child in all of us when watching these movies. He also rightly compares superhero movies with westerns and gangster films of the yesteryears, calling them this generation’s trend, hopeful that sometime in the future, a different genre of films will be ruling the roost. Without any further delay, here’s his statement in its entirety:
Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them “despicable”. Some of our great grandfathers thought the same of westerns, and believed the films of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone were all exactly the same. I remember a great uncle to whom I was raving about Star Wars. He responded by saying, “I saw that when it was called 2001, and, boy, was it boring!” Superheroes are simply today’s gangsters / cowboys / outer space adventurers. Some superhero films are awful, some are beautiful. Like westerns and gangster movies (and before that, just MOVIES), not everyone will be able to appreciate them, even some geniuses. And that’s okay.
Gunn responded calmly and his remarks make perfect sense. Hollywood has often been transitional in terms of the kind of films that work in a current generation. For the longest while in the early 50s and 60s, westerns ruled the box office, giving us gems like The Good, The Bad and the Ugly as well as Sergio Leone’s other masterpieces featuring Clint Eastwood (now famously nicknamed as the “Man With No Name”). The focus then shifted to gangster films once Coppola’s The Godfather portrayed a very different side of the mafia that resonated with worldwide audiences. Briefly, science fiction and adventure films also took centerstage with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas fueling this era of films.
With advances in technology, it’s only natural for new forms of cinema to take over. While superhero films have been around for quite a while, it’s only recently in the last decade or so, that filmmakers have been able to fully realize their visions without compromise thanks to leaps in visual effects. Combined with different genre films, superhero films have the potential to offer limitless entertainment for all ages, which is precisely the wave that Marvel Studios is capitalizing on.
Regardless of the comments, superhero movies are here to stay. We probably have another decade or two left before comicbook movies exhaust all their possibilities and begin wearing out on audiences. Then again, considering that superhero films have been around since the early 2000s for two decades already, you never know how long they last.
What do you think of Gunn’s comments and this ongoing controversy? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below.