Superhero films are important

     Many directors, such as Martin Scorsese, Denis Villeneuve and Francis Ford Coppola, have all made similar statements regarding superhero films, and they all have dicey opinions. Scorsese, for example, believes Marvel films are not real cinema and has always been vocal about not liking movies of that nature. Coppola agreed with him, saying that when we watch movies, “We expect to gain something, some enlightenment, knowledge and inspiration.” While superhero films may not always offer these things, they are important to our culture and society as a whole. Though not all will agree, these aspects of our social lives are greatly and positively impacted by superhero films in more ways than one. Children look up to the heroes shown on screen, they challenge gender norms and keep studios in business to make these and many other types of films.

     My life has been shaped into what it is today because I grew up with superheroes like Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. This may not be how everybody grew up, but claiming that these movies are unnecessary to make is not right. I love Scorsese’s work, but this is one opinion he has that I cannot wrap my head around. Cinema is subjective to everyone, and his claims that superhero films are not real cinema, is just an opinion, nothing more. I personally do not take his opinion to heart, but at the same time I wonder if we are watching the same things. Some of the cinematography I see in movies like Dr. Strange and Thor: Ragnarok is outstanding and personally, I’ve learned a lot from watching heroes fight on-screen. For example, Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) taught me not to judge others based on their mistakes or pasts. Tony Stark (Iron Man) taught me that it’s okay to do things for myself sometimes but not to always be selfish. Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) taught me the importance of women on the big screen in these powerful roles, and that sometimes, making people mad is okay.

     It is all up to us what we do with the films we watch, and Coppola’s point of expecting to gain inspiration and knowledge from films can absolutely apply to superhero films. Sure, they are mostly made to reel in money for studios, but one thing all films have in common is that they are made for some sort of entertainment. No matter what movie you are watching, there is almost always something to learn from it, especially in superhero movies. There are certain movies that are made just for fun-a prime example I think of is Willy’s Wonderland-but the majority of films put out there speak to someone in one way or another. What one person sees as a terrible, pointless movie could be another person’s life-changing watch. For example, I use a movie review site called Letterboxd, and I see plenty of terrible reviews of my favorite movies, ones I think are the peak of cinema. But that does not mean their reviews are general knowledge or true. They are just thoughts on a movie all the same as Coppola’s and Scorsese’s thoughts are on Marvel. Even though they are world famous directors, their opinions are still just opinions and should not be taken too seriously. No matter what, someone out there will disagree with something you believe is true or untrue. In this case, I disagree with their claims that Marvel is not real cinema. Can they be mindless fun at times and nothing more? Absolutely. But can they provide lessons to those watching? They absolutely can. 

     Little kids all over the world say they want to be superheroes when they grow up, and seeing that representation on screen is a huge part of kids being able to develop hopes and dreams for the future. Not only do they enjoy seeing superheroes fighting and maybe want their powers, but minorities and women being dominantly cast in films like Black Panther and Captain Marvel were huge changes and big steps towards equality in an industry where that has not always been the case (and still is not). They say Marvel films are not real cinema, but what do they say about Star Wars? They use the same techniques Marvel does and are instead said to have changed the way we make movies. Marvel is just one product of how we have evolved since Star Wars, but somehow those are terrible to people like Villeneuve and Ridley Scott. In fact, Scorsese sees Marvel as nothing more than theme park movies, which can be true, but are there not also Harry Potter and Star Wars theme parks in Florida? Where are the criticisms of these movies? Marvel and DC movies should not be placed under a microscope if similar movies like Back to the Future and (again) Star Wars are going to be praised by them. The criticisms of Marvel and DC are unfair and, to be frank, untrue.

     Superhero films are one of the staples of pop culture. If I enjoy a Marvel movie directed by the Russo Brothers, which I do, I might have my head turned to go see another movie outside Marvel directed by them (like the upcoming The Gray Man) because I think Captain America: The Winter Soldier was made so well. People like Scorsese, Villeneuve and Scott have no place to tell the public what is and is not cinema; it is all subjective and extremely important to shaping pop culture and society.