There’s been a lot of talk about certain directors throwing shade at the Marvel Cinematic Universe saying they are not Cinema, and the understanding has been taken this means that they are “lesser”. If you look closer, wether you like the comments or not, or if you think they are saying it for attention. If you understand the difference between “Film” and “Cinema” then you can understand why they are right.
Essentially films are essentially movies put out by a studio that are not primarily the unique vision of a filmmaker and are generally created to sell tickets. Cinema is the opposite, it’s a filmmakers vision from start to finish.
Steven Soderbergh said it best, so let’s see what he had to say about this at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival:
“The simplest way that I can describe it is that a movie is something you see, and cinema is something that’s made, It has nothing to do with the captured medium, it doesn’t have anything to do with where the screen is, if it’s in your bedroom, your iPad, it doesn’t even really have to be a movie. It could be a commercial, it could be something on YouTube. Cinema is a specificity of vision. It’s an approach in which everything matters. It’s the polar opposite of generic or arbitrary and the result is as unique as a signature or a fingerprint. It isn’t made by a committee, and it isn’t made by a company, and it isn’t made by the audience. It means that if this filmmaker didn’t do it, it either wouldn’t exist at all, or it wouldn’t exist in anything like this form.”Stephen Soderbergh speaking to Deadline.
Let’s take a look at what Scorsese said and break it down.
“I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema…Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”Martin Scorsese
First he doesn’t watch them, but tried. Well, at least he tried. The films are not for him, and thats fine. He comments on how well they are made, which is true they are pretty for sure. He compares them to theme parks, which feels a bit harsh. However he’s not to far off. They are overall feel good movies which is what you get from a theme park.
I do have to argue the point that they don’t convey emotional, psychological experiences about other human beings. To a lot of people the death of Iron Man in Endgame was a really big deal. to some people *cough* Jay *cough* the death was a few movies too late. I personal felt it was a beautiful ending to his story arc.
No the question you are probably asking yourself is do I AGREE with all of this? Do I agree that the MCU isn’t CINEMA and that they are just “them park” films.
Well, I mean yes.
How could you not? If you buy in to Soderbergh’s definition of “film” and “cinema” then it’s 100% accurate. It’s not nice, I don’t like it, but it is accurate. If we are to believe that cinema is a filmmakers vision void of corporate/studio bureaucracy, would exist with or without some backing funding because it’s a story the filmmaker has to tell. Then no, the MCU doesn’t fall into that since they are entirely built by committee.
That doesn’t make them bad or any less worthy of praise. That doesn’t mean the people making them are not in love with the process, the story, and what they are releasing into the world. That doesn’t limit our perspective levels of enjoyment.
Do I think it’s a useless thing to say and hold no bearing on quality of a film?
Well, also yes.
Remember, everyone is entitled to their opinion even if you don’t like it. People also like to talk a shit about popular things cause that makes them “cool” and “edgy”. Also, finding a way to bash something on a “technical” meaning isn’t cool, it makes you an elitist. So in closing, yes old people of cinema you are right, but no one cares.