Disney chief Bob Iger has been reduced to pulling the race card on Martin Scorsese in defense of Marvel movies.
On Tuesday, I wrote at length about the growing backlash against Marvel movies and comic book movies in general. Legendary filmmaker Scorsese launched the whole thing when he criticized the genre as something closer to an theme park ride than cinema.
“Theaters have become amusement parks. That is all fine and good but don’t invade everything else in that sense,” he said. “That is fine and good for those who enjoy that type of film and, by the way, knowing what goes into them now, I admire what they do. It’s not my kind of thing, it simply is not. It’s creating another kind of audience that thinks cinema is that.”
Oscar-winner Francis Ford Coppola quickly piled on by wondering how “anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again.”
“Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is,” Coppola added.
Indie director Ken Loach did not hold back: “It’s about making a commodity which will make a profit for a big corporation – they’re a cynical exercise. They’re a market exercise, and it has nothing to do with the art of cinema.”
While speaking to the Wall Street Journal in California on Tuesday, Iger (Disney owns Marvel) responded by name-checking Scorsese and Coppola and thumping them over the head with the ole’ race card:
I’m puzzled by it. If they want to bitch about movies, it’s certainly their right… It seems so disrespectful to all the people that work on those [Marvel] films who are working just as hard as the people who work on their films. … Are you telling me Ryan Coogler making ‘Black Panther’ is somehow doing something that is less than what Marty Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola has ever done on any one of their movies?
“There I said it,” he added.
How sad is that?
Bob Iger had to know the question was coming, which means he had all kinds of time to prepare a legitimate answer, but all he could come up with was to basically accuse Scorsese and Coppola of racism for not being all that impressed with Black Panther…?
What’s especially outrageous and unfair is that Coppola and Scorsese were criticizing a franchise and genre that is predominantly white — a genre filled with almost all white stars, all white producers, and all white directors.
This is not just a disgusting movie on Iger’s part, it reveals his own inability to make a case honestly, to use the language of film and cinema to defend Marvel as film and cinema, as something other than a formulaic amusement park ride you forget about as soon as you hit the parking lot.
Disney has made exactly one — one! — Marvel movie with a black lead, I am talking about one some two dozen titles…. But it’s Scorsese and Coppola who are the bigots.
If I worked for Marvel, if I were producer Kevin Feige or Robert Downey Jr., or James Gunn, or Joss Whedon, Iger’s pathetic and inane defense would humiliate me: Seriously, Bob, you’re playing the race card instead of supporting the actual work?
How about making an actual case, Mr. Iger…???
How about explaining to us why we will still be watching Marvel movies in a hundred years. We know we will still be watching Coppola and Scorsese movies in a hundred years, movies that feel just as necessary and vital today as they did a half-century ago, so make your own case for Iron Man and Thor and Endgame and Captain Marvel.
Or, is RACIST! all you got — which is an abhorrent way to respond to a couple of guys guilty of nothing more than sharing a personal opinion.