Are Superhero Movies Their own Form of Artistic Expression?

In a recent interview with Empire magazine about his new film, acclaimed director Martin Scorcese caused controversy with a comment directed at superhero movies. “Honestly, the closest I can think of them as … is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being,” Scorcese said. The comment has sparked debate and outrage within film circles, online chat rooms, and film-goers at large. Other film directors, such as Francis Coppola, have weighed in with their own criticisms, further stoking the anger of superhero fans worldwide.

As well as all the attention that comes with superhero movies, there is also a large amount of money coming from studios and companies who want a cut of the action. Premiere after premiere, superhero after superhero, the one thing that is guaranteed to stay the same is the fact that theatre-goers will come in droves to see the big screen adaptation of their favorite comic book character. Although the majority of superhero movies are based off of comic books, what sets them apart from other cinematic versions of literary works is that you don’t need to have read the comic book to understand what is going on in the movie. Superhero movies are able to cross over differences within audiences, including varying life experiences and diverse interests. If you are someone who loves to watch horror, you will like the Caped Crusader movie just as much as your friend who loves action movies. The genre bending and blending that comes with watching a hero’s origin story is what puts moviegoers in theatre’s seats. 

In addition to being a fan favorite, superhero movies are highly entertaining. For all of mankind’s history, people have been attracted to the idea of a superhuman; a person who is stronger, smarter, and more powerful than the average human. Someone who is devoted to protecting less powerful citizens from harm. Everybody wishes they had a guardian angel watching

Although superhero sagas have millions of fans from all over the world, there is still a contingent of naysayers who are critical of their success.

over them and their loved ones. This is what a superhero is: a physical reminder of good overcoming evil. It makes sense that these stories would create as much revenue as they do. For 2-3 hours, we are transported to a world where the forces of good will always win in the end. This alternate reality creates an opportunity for people to escape from their own demons, no matter how big or small. 

Although superhero sagas have millions of fans from all over the world, there is still a contingent of naysayers who are critical of their success. Many people feel that the storylines are too predictable, as well as being a waste of production money. Their argument is that the financial power used in making a superhero blockbuster could be better put to use for a more artistic endeavor. With all the meaningless clutter that is released as entertainment, they would hope that studios could see through the refuse to create gripping storylines and visual masterpieces. The worry being that if all the Hollywood money goes towards these mega franchises, other films that are more experimental and produced by lesser known studios will be overshadowed. The money that we use to pay for a ticket to go see the newest “Avenger” movie could be going to a more artistic film made by an up-and-coming director. 

The main fear that Scorcese and Coppola have expressed is that powerhouses like superhero franchises could make it more difficult to enter an already challenging field to get a start in. However, the fact is that art is subjective and what could be incredible to someone could be absolute garbage to another. Basing the kind of movies we make off of what only a select number of people think, compared to what a majority thinks, makes no sense. Movies exist to entertain, and if the general population is loving something, it’s in the hands of studios to recognize that and act accordingly. There’s a reason pop culture is named for its popularity. 

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