Francis Ford Coppola resolves his comments about superhero cinema

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Marvel, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese

Ever since Martin Scorsese voiced his discontent about the state of cinema, and how Marvel movies in particular are to blame for a decline in quality entertainment on the big screen, several of Hollywood's heavy-hitters have joined the chorus of complaints against superhero spectacles. One such filmmaker is Francis Ford Coppola, who was recently quoted as saying, “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.” Coppola then continued, “I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again,” continued Coppola. “Martin was kind when he said it’s ‘not cinema.’ He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

While Coppola's words appear to be pretty damning, a recent interview with Deadline has Coppola clarifying those comments, as it seems that his original statements were mistranslated. According to Coppola, the term "despicable" was never intended to be a description of superhero films, but rather a description of films made for financial gain rather than art.

"Personally I don’t like the idea of franchises, the notion that you can keep repeating what is essentially the same movie for financial gain — in other words what is a formulaic approach," said the director of THE GODFATHER, THE GODFATHER: PART II, and THE GODFATHER: PART III. "I feel that approach is taken to reduce the economic risk of movies and I feel the ‘risk factor’ is an element that makes movies sometimes be great. Also the formulaic film draws most available resources to them, leaving little for more daring productions, reducing diversity."

"In some ways I think the cinema is like food; certainly you can add things to make it tempting, tasty and enjoyable but it must also be nutritious to qualify as real food," Copolla added.

Also included in Deadline's report was a proper translation of Copolla's original comments:

“You know I’m sure you’re extracting from whatever Martin said. The gist of his statement," Coppola said with regard to Scorsese's inflammatory comments. "If you asked him is there is cinematic talent, cinematic expression, is there great even work in certain Marvel films, he would say yes. But what his point his, is that the concept of the Marvel film which has eaten up all the oxygen, which is to say the resources is not really is more of a theme park ride than what we would call cinema. Yes, I agree with him. (Pause for translation) But also television commercials is cinema – but is it a beautiful form of cinema? No.”

Later in their talks, Deadline questioned Coppola as to why there is no "new Hollywood" given the state of such glaring political turmoil:

"Well you know because of the lack of risk in the production. Marty Scorsese says that the Marvel picture is not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. Arguably, I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again, which is the Marvel movies. A thing that has no risk to it, I’ve said before, making a film without risk is like making a baby without sex. Part of it is risk, and that’s what make it so interesting, that’s why we learn so much when it’s made.

Also, there is a philosophy that a person of riches can be just or unjust. It’s very important when you talk about it. To gain riches unjustly, just uses up, it doesn’t contribute. Wealth is only what is just, what brings more to the society. Cinema is the same way. Real cinema brings something, a wonderful gift to society. It doesn’t just take money and make people rich. That’s despicable. (Pause for translation) So Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema, he didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just said it is.”

Now that Coppola has set the record straight, do you feel differently about his contribution to the ongoing Marvel drama? What about his views on what constitutes as cinema in general? Should we be drawing lines in the sand over what should and should not be considered cinema? Isn't beauty supposed to be in the eye of the beholder? If that's true, than who's to say that anyone with a camera and a dream can't create something cinematic? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Source: Deadline

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.