Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

...And Don't Criticise What You Don't Understand

I don't watch super hero movies. They don't call to me. I don't understand the appeal. When Martin Scorsese says they're not cinema and Francis Coppola Calls them "despicable" my instinct is to nod in agreement. You tell 'em, grandad.

But James Gunn makes a good point: Our grandfathers thought gangster movies were all pretty much the same, he says, Westerns too- because genre is genre and the guy who made the most perfunctory B movie was playing in the same sand pit as John Ford. Both showed us men in hats riding through open landscapes and shooting at one another- only one film is junk and the other is a deathless work of art. The ingredients are the same but there's a world of difference between the work of journeyman and the work of a master. The same is true, he argues, of what's being done in the Marvel universe.

Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola belong to a privileged generation. They were young in an age when directors were being treated as auteurs and got to make the movies they wanted to make on the terms they themselves dictated. Those days are over. Gunn's generation have much less freedom. Like the directors of the Hollywood "Golden Age" they make the movies the studio bosses tell them to make- and do the best they can with the genre materials to hand. I don't doubt that some of the Marvel films will come to revered the way the best westerns are revered. No-one made much of a fuss about The Searchers when it first came out- it was just another oater dropping off the production line- but now it regularly makes the lists of best films ever. Time has a way of sorting these things out.

The old should be wary of criticising the young. There's a long, long history of older artists rubbishing the work of later generations and then lying foolish in their graves. Scorsese and Coppola made excellent movies in their time (and Scorsese still does) and no-one blames them (I hope) for not getting what the kids are up to (because that's what happens as you age- the brain hardens or something)- but really they'd be wiser to keep their time-honoured opinions to themselves.
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