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Marvel stars weigh in on Scorsese's comments; Scarlett Johansson calls it sad, Boseman cites 'possible campaigning'

Martin Scorsese earlier said that Marvel films are 'not cinema'.

PTI|
Nov 12, 2019, 11.22 AM IST
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Johansson said initially she thought it was "old-fashioned" to believe that Marvel, the studio that churns out major moneyspinners in Hollywood, could spell the "death of cinema".

(In pic from left: Scarlett Johansson, Martin Scorsese, Chadwick Boseman)

LOS ANGELES: Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans and Chadwick Boseman, the three Marvel stars, have addressed the Martin Scorsese-Marvel controversy.

While Johansson (Black Widow) and Evans (Captain America) didn't name the legendary filmmaker as they weighed in on his comments that superhero films were "theme park experience", "not cinema", 'Black Panther' star Boseman was more direct and questioned the timing of 'The Irishman' director's remarks ahead of Oscars season.

Johansson said initially she thought it was "old-fashioned" to believe that Marvel, the studio that churns out major moneyspinners in Hollywood, could spell the "death of cinema".

"It's interesting, because a couple of people in the past couple of days have mentioned to me that a couple of extremely esteemed directors have been really vocal about how the whole Marvel universe and big blockbusters are really, like, 'despicable' and 'the death of cinema'.

"At first I thought that seems kind of old-fashioned, and somebody had to explain to me, because it seemed so disappointing and sad in a way," she told Evans in Variety's Actors on Actors segment.

Johansson added when she was told that perhaps the debate was about studio tentpoles eating up the share of smaller films, it made her ponder over the consumption pattern of content.

"They said, 'I think what these people are saying is that at the actual theatre, there's not a lot of room for different kinds of movies, or smaller movies, because the theatre is taken up by huge blockbusters'," she said.

"It made me think about how people consume content now, and how there's been this huge sea change with their viewing experience," she added.

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But Evans said there was room for all kinds of cinema and no one had the authority over what qualified as art.

"I think original content inspires creative content. I think new stuff is what keeps the creative wheel rolling. I just believe there's room at the table for all of it. It's like saying a certain type of music isn't music. Who are you to say that?" he asked.

In an interview with BBC 5 Live, Boseman said the multiple Oscar-winning director was "possibly campaigning" for an award for his Netflix gangster drama, which was getting limited release in theatres.

The actor also said he had to "respect" the director's opinion on Marvel films because he was "a genius at what he does".

"You've got to think about when he's saying it. He's saying it when he's possibly campaigning for an award. He's saying it at a time when he's making a Netflix movie, so that's how eyes get on his film, and it's not going to be in the cinemas – it's not going to be seen the best way," Boseman said.

Almost a month after sparking the debate, Scorsese, in an attempt to settle the matter, elaborated on his 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.

Boseman countered Scorsese, saying the director wouldn't have said the MCU films lacked "mystery" had he seen 'Black Panther'.

'Black Panther', the first Marvel film to be led by a person of colour (Boseman), was directed by Ryan Coogler and went on become a cultural phenomenon owing to its rich, sensitive portrayal of the African heritage and meaty roles for women characters.



The film featured a virtually all-black cast with Michael B Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Andy Serkis, among others.

Boseman said, "The mystery that Scorsese's talking about, it's in 'Black Panther'. And I think the funny thing about it is, maybe if he saw 'Black Panther', he didn't get that.

"He didn't get that there was this feeling of being unsure, there was this feeling of not knowing what's going to happen, because we never had a superhero like this before. We thought that white people will kill us off. So it's a possibility that we could be gone. So we felt that angst."

The actor suggested perhaps Scorsese didn't feel the same angst because of the colour of his skin.

"We felt that angst that you would feel from cinema when you watched it. That's cultural. Maybe it's generational. I don't know. But I'm secure in what we did, so his statements don't really bother me," Boseman added.
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