It seems like the new favorite pastime for any filmmaker who hasn’t made a Marvel movie (okay, and for some of those who have made MCU flicks, too) is to dunk on Marvel Studios. Martin Scorsese went viral a couple of years ago for saying Marvel movies aren’t “cinema.” From that point on, Scorsese went from auteur to “that guy who hates superhero movies.” The response got so out of hand that Scorsese had to take time off from his busy schedule to pen an op-ed for The New York Times explaining why he criticized movies made by Marvel Studios. Now, it’s Denis Villeneuve’s turn to give Marvel shit.
In a recent interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo, interviewer Luis Martínez brings up Scorsese’s views on Marvel movies, to which the Dune director replies, “Perhaps the problem is that we are in front of too many Marvel movies that are nothing more than a ‘cut and paste’ of others.” He adds, “Perhaps these types of movies have turned us into zombies a bit… But big and expensive movies of great value, there are many today. I don’t feel capable of being pessimistic at all.”
Villeneuve’s Dune has a Marvel-sized budget; it’s not an arthouse film. If anything, it’s set to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the year. Villeneuve acknowledges this in the interview and he expresses that he has nothing against those kinds of high budget, high profile films. “Just think of the golden age of Hollywood to see that commercial films can make a different artistic proposal and, therefore, political,” he says. “I have never felt like a loss or an impediment to have a generous budget to do what I wanted to do. Upside down. Who said that a movie on a big budget can’t be artistically relevant at the same time? I am currently thinking of people like Christopher Nolan or Alfonso Cuarón.”
To be fair, Villeneuve isn’t saying all Marvel movies are bad or that they have no artistic merit. He’s just critiquing the formulaic storylines featured in many of those movies, which is fair. Not every Marvel director is going to be Taika Waititi or James Gunn, taking necessary risks to make the films more exciting. But we look forward to hearing his thoughts if he’s ever offered to direct his own Marvel flick.