Martin Scorsese has been keeping his name in the headlines since the start of his career. He is currently promoting his upcoming film Killers of the Flower Moon (out October 20th), but his body of work (and decades of strong opinions) means that interviewers aren’t only asking him about the movie. In a recent profile with GQ, Martin Scorsese shared some thoughts that essentially bash franchise films, going as far as saying that cinema needs saving from them. And, based on his recent disgust in superhero movies, we aren’t surprised.
What Does Martin Scorsese Think About Franchise Films?
Scorsese shares some studio feedback from one of his most beloved films, The Departed, in his recent profile. According to the director, Warner Bros. was eager to see one of the film’s main characters (played by Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio) survive the story. Though, if you’ve seen the film, you know that it doesn’t end so happily. Scorsese took from their perspective that the studio wanted their stories to go on, meaning that a franchise would be born. And that’s not Scorsese’s modus operandi.
Scorsese goes on to share that franchise films (which we so often associate with superhero films now, thanks to Marvel and DC) pose a danger to our culture, sharing that “there are going to be generations now that think movies are only those- that’s what movies are.”
And he isn’t wrong. How often do we go into films hoping to see our presumed dead favourite characters make an appearance, signaling an opportunity for a revived story? And how excited do we get when a backdoor pilot pops up in our latest binge-watch? It’s not just Marvel. Everything has been jumping into franchise territory these days, from the big screen to the small (like with Stranger Things‘ upcoming spinoffs.)
So How Does He Save Cinema?
Scorsese’s perspective comes from a man who has spent his life working in film. He has seen trends come and go, but his love of filmmaking has not wavered. His solution? To fight back stronger:
Which means that we have to then fight back stronger. And it’s got to come from the grassroots level. It’s gotta come from the filmmakers themselves. And you’ll have, you know, the Safdie brothers, and you’ll have Chris Nolan, you know what I mean? And hit ’em from all sides. Hit ’em from all sides, and don’t give up. Let’s see what you got. Go out there and do it. Go reinvent. Don’t complain about it. But it’s true, because we’ve got to save cinema.
- Scorsese to GQ
His solution is eloquently put and, fortunately, doesn’t shine the most negative light on movie-goers. Instead, it looks at the filmmakers and begs them to keep working on their craft. Auteurs like Christopher Nolan and the Safdie Brothers are creators who have come out with undeniably creative and gorgeous films. But Nolan has also famously taken part in franchise work with his Dark Knight trilogy. That doesn’t write him off from Scorsese’s list of favourite directors – it just means that he has to keep original content in mind to keep the craft alive.
Scorsese has caught a lot of flack over the past few years for his hatred of Marvel movies and cinematic universes. And I get the frustration. These franchises have kept movie theatres alive and well in tough times. But I also have to agree with Scorsese that it’s led us too far from the light. We have grown used to waiting until credits have rolled to get a look at what’s next rather than simply appreciating what is in front of us.
Can we have the best of both worlds? Can we have incredible and creative franchise films, and new perspectives and standalone magic? Of course! As long as we, as the ticket buyers, keep showing up. And after seeing Oppenheimer’s impressive box office numbers, I’m not worried for a second.
So, what do you think about Martin Scorsese and his frustration with franchise films? Do you think they are changing the way that we look at cinema? Let us know your thoughts in the comments and if you agree with his proposed solution.