It's Unfortunate: Kevin Feige On Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticism

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Everyone has a different definition of cinema and risk, believes Kevin Feige, who finally broke silence on Scorsese's criticism of their superhero films

Written By Press Trust Of India | Mumbai | Updated On:
Kevin Feige

Everyone has a different definition of cinema and risk, believes Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, who finally broke silence on legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese's criticism of their superhero films.

Feige, who called the multiple Oscar-winning director's comments on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films "unfortunate", said superhero films couldn't be compared to a "theme park experience".

"I think that's not true. I think it's unfortunate," Feige said during The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast when asked about the notion that superhero movies are a negative for cinema. "I think myself and everyone who works on these movies loves cinema, loves movies, loves going to the movies, loves to watch a communal experience in a movie theatre full of people," he added.

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In early October, Scorsese raked up a storm after he branded the MCU films "not cinema", with the debate dividing the industry into 'Marvel versus others' and, the filmmaker drawing ire of fans and disappointment of Marvel talent. In an attempt to settle the matter, Scorsese elaborated his "theme park experience" remarks in an October 4 op-ed of the New York Times, saying while the superhero films were made by people of considerable talent and artistry, there is an absence of "revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger" in them. 

"Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes..."That's the nature of modern film franchises: market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they're ready for consumption," the veteran wrote.

But Feige has often said the studio seeks to make different types of films: 2015's "Ant-Man" was billed a heist film and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014) a political thriller.  In his response to Scorsese on the "risk" factor, Feige posited more recent examples of the risks the studio has taken.

"We did 'Civil War'. We had our two most popular characters (Iron Man and Captain America) get into a very serious theological and physical altercation. "We killed half of our characters at the end of a movie (Avengers: Infinity War). I think it's fun for us to take our success and use it to take risks and go in different places," he argued.

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In the end, Feige noted, art is a subjective concept. "Everybody has a different definition of cinema. Everybody has a different definition of art. Everybody has a different definition of risk. Some people don't think it's cinema. "Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Everyone is entitled to repeat that opinion. Everyone is entitled to write op-eds about that opinion, and I look forward to what will happen next. But in the meantime, we're going to keep making movies," he said.

The senior executive went on to decode the studio's risk-taking plans, case in point its streaming service, Disney+, which launches Tuesday. On "WandaVision", the upcoming Disney+ show starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, Feige said it was unlike anything they had done before. 

"It's unlike anything this genre has done before. And yes, if you are turned off by the notion of a human having extra abilities, and that means everything in which that happens is lumped into the same category, then they might not be for you. But the truth is, these are all  like all great science-fiction stories  parables," he said of the show which is said to have 1950s sitcom roots.

He also talked about Chloe Zhao-directed "The Eternals", which has a star-studded cast of Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Richard Madded, Kumail Nanjiani, Gemma Chan, among others, pointing out it has characters that few outside of Marvel fanatics have heard of.

"It is a very big movie. It is a very expensive movie. And we are making it because we believe in (Zhao's) vision and we believe in what those characters can do and we believe we need to continue to grow and evolve and change and push our genre forward. That's a risk if I've ever heard one," Feige said. The Marvel honcho is currently developing shows based around Ms Marvel -- the studio's first Muslim hero She-Hulk and Moon Knight. They will get their films after their Disney+ debuts, Feige confirmed. 

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