It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over three long, long years since Martin Scorsese said something shocking: that he doesn’t care for Marvel movies and was not pleased that they had all but driven every other type of film from the major studios. The legendary filmmaker’s comments opened the floodgates, not only to other directors saying similar — and sometimes much angrier — things, but also to Marvel staffers indignantly pushing back. And they’re still doing it!
Quentin Tarantino has been doing press for his new film criticism book Cinema Speculation, and in the midst he’s been inevitably spouting out some of his eccentric hot takes. In turn, he became the latest auteur to take on Hollywood’s most profitable genre. Bemoaning the “Marvel-ization of Hollywood,” he argued that the actors playing superheroes (or villains) are “not movie stars.” It’s not that they’re not famous, but that it’s really “these franchise characters that become a star,” not the actors playing them. “Captain America is the star. Or Thor is the star.”
Well, one of the Marvel stars/actors did not like that.
No movie studio is or ever will be perfect. But I’m proud to work with one that has made sustained efforts to improve diversity onscreen by creating heroes that empower and inspire people of all communities everywhere.
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I loved the “Golden Age” too.. but it was white as hell.
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) November 22, 2022
“If the only gatekeepers to movie stardom came from Tarantino and Scorsese, I would never have had the opportunity to lead a $400 million plus movie,” wrote Simu Liu, who became a name after last year’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. “I am in awe of their filmmaking genius. They are transcendent auteurs. But they don’t get to point their nose at me or anyone.”
He added, “No movie studio is or ever will be perfect. But I’m proud to work with one that has made sustained efforts to improve diversity onscreen by creating heroes that empower and inspire people of all communities everywhere.” He finally concluded, “I loved the ‘Golden Age’ too.. but it was white as hell.”
It’s worth noting that both Scorsese and Tarantino have made diverse films. Scorsese has even made an entire film about the Dalai Lama, and on the Disney dollar: 1997’s Kundun. That’s to say nothing about his long history of film preservation, which has yielded, among other things, multiple box sets for world cinema obscurities. Tarantino’s films are for the most part multicultural, sometimes casting Asian stars. Some even address race head-on.
It’s also worth pointing out that Marvel’s diversity is a relatively new thing. Their first solo film about a female superhero only came out three years ago, some 20 films into the MCU. Shang-Chi, the first with an Asian-American lead, was their 25th film.
Anyway, it’s the holidays. Maybe the Marvel people and the Scorsese/Tarantino factions should take a time out and break bread together.