Art is Emotion

Superhero movies are one of the highest grossing cinema categories. Marvel movies alone have made over $7.1 billion worldwide, averaging $716 million per movie.

Movies, to put it simply, are not for everyone. For those who do love film like myself, there are certain genres that are not for everyone because film, just like a novel, play, painting or sculpture, is a type of art. Art as a concept is fascinating because two members of the same species can view the same piece and react in antonymous manners. In no medium of art is this truer than in film. 

In recent years, two of the most prestigious directors working in the industry today heavily criticized what is arguably the most popular movie franchise running: the Marvel superhero films. The first of these all-timers was Martin Scorsese, renowned director of some of the greatest gangster flicks to ever grace the silver screen. In his comments from 2019, Scorsese claimed that the billion-dollar franchise was “just not cinema” and that “the closest I can think of them… is theme parks.” The second director to make similar comments was Denis Villeneuve, the best sci-fi movie maker of contemporary times (don’t get me started on how excited I am for Dune). Villeneuve made his comments close to two years after Scorsese made his, calling the MCU movies mere “cut and paste” copies of the others within the franchise. The question therefore remains: are they right? 

Even if both directors are being slightly unfair, they both have a point. Scorsese’s comments likening the MCU to a massive theme park are actually rather accurate. Some people like Captain America, others Iron Man and some would say Thor is their favorite. This is akin to people having a favorite ride in a giant theme park. Some people like the thrill of a roller coaster while others prefer the tranquil views from atop a ferris wheel. Theme parks and the MCU have at least a little something for everyone, except of course for the people who despise superheroes and amusement parks as a whole.  

Villeneuve’s claims of MCU movies being “cut and paste” from others are even more pinpoint than Scorsese’s. What I mean is, every Marvel movie (except Infinity War) has a rather generic three-act structure that always, culminates in a big CGI battle between the heroes and villains. This proves Villeneuve to be right, but it does not discredit the MCU franchise as being a lesser form of cinema than any other.  

To bring this rant full-circle, I will reiterate that film is a type of art. Art of any kind is entirely subjective to the person experiencing it. Subjectivity as a concept implies, particularly in the realm of art, that emotions are involved in the experience in some way. If a film makes the audience feel the emotions that it wants them to, is that movie not worthy of being put in the same conversation as Oscar-winning dramas? Maybe not objectively, but the study of filmography and film as a medium of art are two completely different ideas that lead to two entirely different conversations. The point that I’m trying to make here is that some of the movies in the MCU have achieved this lofty goal of making their audience emotional. Of course, good art still exists outside of the realm of emotion. I, myself, when it comes to art, simply find emotion more important than a piece eliciting, say, social commentary. I feel bad for people like Martin Scorsese and Denis Villeneuve who do not gain anything from these comic books come to life. Art is emotion, and if you didn’t feel anything when Tony Stark died, you’re downright crazy.  

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