- Martin Scorsese turned down the director’s role for Joker, arguing superhero films are “not cinema.”
- Joker upstaged him this year with 11 Oscar nominations.
- Scorsese is a living legend, but his relevance is fading quickly.
Martin Scorsese is one of Holywood’s most celebrated living directors. He’s also one of the most out-of-touch and blinkered.
His asinine views on superhero films betray a pathological failure to adapt to changing forms of artistic expression, and that makes this year’s Oscar nominations even sweeter for comic book lovers.
Scorsese Trashes Comic Books, But Joker Gets the Last Laugh
Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed that Joker had been nominated for 11 Oscars.
Scorsese had the chance to direct Joker, but his well-documented disdain for “comic-book character[s]” led him to pass. Last year, he controversially claimed Marvel films are “not cinema.” He likened them to theme parks, which offer nothing more than cheap thrills.
That should make this year’s Oscar nominations bittersweet for Scorsese.
As critics on Twitter have happily pointed out, Joker scored as many nominations as Scorsese’s most-nominated film, The Aviator. It also received one more than The Irishman, Scorsese’s latest film.
Scorsese backers might be tempted to blast the Academy Awards as self-congratulatory Hollywood fluff. But given that he has accepted a staggering 22 Academy Award nominations and one Oscar victory during his career, that argument’s not likely to bolster his case.
‘Irishman’ Director Owes Superhero Films an Apology
Joker’s Oscars coup proves it’s time for Martin Scorsese to admit that his views on superhero films are ignorant and that it’s his fault for failing to adapt to cinema trends.
On the surface, the superhero genre might seem superficial. These movies may come coated in the “childish” sugar of superpowers and epic action sequences. But as Oscar-nominated films like The Dark Knight and Black Panther have proven, comic book movies can be legitimate vehicles for serious artistic themes.
Scorsese has clearly failed to see through this coating to the art underneath, exposing himself as inflexible and blind to the public’s evolving tastes.
A Case of Sour Grapes
Maybe cinema-goers should be mature enough not to need intellectual ideas fed to them through superheroes. But you could argue the same about gangster films, a genre Scorsese helped redefine.
Once upon a time, the public preferred his gangster movies to Marvel and DC flicks. But no longer. And now he feels less relevant now than ever.
Instead of striving to correct this, he’s opted to belittle comic book movies and deny them their artistic due. But given that Joker just one-upped him at the Oscars, he’d be better off trying to learn from them.
This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.
Last modified: January 14, 2020 9:11 PM UTC