It’s been almost two years since cinema legend Martin Scorsese opened a huge can of worms with his disparaging comments about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, igniting a debate that just won’t go away. In the wake of the filmmaker’s criticisms countless fans, actors, writers and directors all jumped in with their own two cents, and most of them agreed that Scorsese’s perspective was both outdated and old-fashioned.
He had one staunch supporter in Francis Ford Coppola, though, but that only served to shift things concertedly into ‘old man yells at cloud’ territory. You can understand what the Academy Award winner was getting at, when it’s more difficult than ever for mid budget adult-orientated pictures to get made when the focus falls firmly on franchise fare above all else, but picking a fight with the biggest game in town and dismissing it as something that filled him with terrible sadness was a strange way of going about it.
Paul Schrader, who knows a thing or two about how Scorsese operates having penned the scripts for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ and Bringing Out the Dead, has now weighed in on the matter while hitting the press circuit for his new thriller The Card Counter, and he disagrees with his former collaborator’s sentiments.
“It is kind of surprising that what we used to regard as adolescent entertainment, comic books for teenagers, has become the dominant genre economically. Each generation is informed, and informed by literature, or informed by theater, or informed by live television, or informed by film school. Now we have a generation that’s been informed by video games and manga. It’s not that the filmmakers have changed, it’s that the audiences have changed. When the audiences don’t want serious movies, it’s very, very hard to make one.
When they do, when they ask you, ‘What should I think about women’s lib, gay rights, racial situations, economic inequality?’, and the audience is interested in hearing about these issues, well then you can make those movies. And we have. Particularly in the fifties, and sixties, and seventies, we’re making them one or two a week about social issues. And they were financially successful because audiences wanted them. Then something changed in the culture, the center dropped out. Those movies are still being made, but they’re not in the center of the conversation anymore.”
Martin Scorsese is unquestionably one of the finest directors that the industry has ever seen, but at the end of the day, he’s a 78 year-old man trying to pass judgement on the taste of modern audiences. It’s largely generational, with today’s crowds having been reared on big budget escapism, a far cry from when a young Marty was gaining his film education in the 1950s and 60s.