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15 Famous Directors Who Have Actually Praised The MCU

When legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese said back in 2019 that he didn't feel Marvel movies qualified as "cinema," his thoughts on the matter sent shockwaves throughout the pop culture discourse. Obviously, a lot of people steadfastly disagreed with what he said, to the point that Scorsese would write an editorial for the New York Times about a month later clarifying and slightly softening his position. Still, not only had the damage been done, but the floodgates had been opened for others to agree with his sentiments.

Since then, on almost any given day, one can open up their phone or laptop and see headlines about some other famous director joining the anti-MCU chorus. Quentin Tarantino was especially vocal about all the ways he feels the MCU has hurt Hollywood and movie stars as he did press for his book "Cinema Speculation" in the fall of 2022 (per Variety), but he's far from the only one. Ridley Scott, Francis Ford Coppola, Denis Villeneuve, David Cronenberg, and Alejandro Iñárritu are but a few of the big-name directors who have either criticized the MCU directly or just have a problem with the way its success has supposedly changed the cinematic landscape for the worse (per Newsweek). 

As the negative voices are always the loudest, it's easy to assume the only directors who like MCU movies are the ones that have worked on MCU movies. However, plenty of well-respected directors outside the MCU have had kind words for either the franchise as a whole or at least one or more specific movies within it. 

Jason Reitman professed his love for several MCU films

A two-time best director Oscar nominee for "Juno" and "Up in the Air," Jason Reitman also directed and co-wrote "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," a legacy sequel continuing the story from the first two installments directed by his father, Ivan Reitman. With sci-fi, effects-driven movies in his blood, it might seem like a no-brainer that Reitman is Team Marvel, though there have been plenty of directors that have surprised us in that regard – looking at you, Peter Jackson

But Reitman is very much an MCU fan, at least of a few of the entries. During an interview with Yahoo, Reitman was asked if he'd be interested in directing a Marvel movie. While admitting to only seeing a few of them, he said that he "really loved 'Thor: Ragnarok,' ... 'Black Panther,' and 'Guardians of the Galaxy,'" and called out the collaboration between Marvel and director Taiki Waititi as "magical." As far as directing his own Marvel movie, Reitman jokingly relented that he doesn't know what his particular skillset could bring to the MCU other than an introspective "Hawkeye" movie that nobody would want to see. Doesn't sound too bad to us!

Rian Johnson wrote an article praising Black Panther and its director

A lot of the directors who rag on the MCU tend to have a problem with massive blockbuster franchises in general. Given that Rian Johnson has already written and directed a mainline entry in the "Star Wars" film franchise, it's unlikely he'd be claiming multi-billion-dollar movie properties are bad for Hollywood anytime soon. Not only is he at least a fan of "Black Panther," but he even wrote a piece for Variety that praises both the film and director Ryan Coogler.

In the 2018 edition of the publication's Directors on Directors series, Johnson gushed about Coogler's work on both "Black Panther" and "Fruitvale Station," but the former gets the focus as the overall piece is about each director's favorite movie of that particular year. Of Coogler's work on "Black Panther," Johnson writes, "On every single level Ryan has engaged the superhero genre and made it speak with his voice. I'm still in awe of the visual storytelling both in massive action scenes and small personal moments that are the film's heart." It's quite a different tune from what many filmmakers have sung when criticizing the MCU, such as Scorsese likening the movies to amusement park rides rather than being films that have any sort of emotional resonance. 

James Cameron has his issues with the MCU but is a fan overall

James Cameron's opinions on the MCU have veered between positive and negative over the years, and it's not surprising that many outlets choose to cherry-pick his complaints for attention-grabbing headlines. However, he has definitely leveled some indisputable criticism at the MCU at various points, like when he said in a Q&A for "Avatar: The Way of Water" that all MCU characters "act like they're in college" (per The New York Times). He's also been very outspoken about how far ahead the visuals are in "The Way of Water" as compared to anything the MCU has done thus far — but that's just Cameron being Cameron. He's never pretended to be humble. 

That being said, in an interview with ComicBook.com about the "Avatar" sequel, he wanted to make it known right off the bat that he wasn't there to "diss" the MCU, saying with a smile that he "loves those movies." Cameron was also congratulatory toward Marvel when "Avengers: Endgame" out-grossed "Titanic" and later overtook "Avatar" as the then-highest-grossing movie in U.S. box office history, seeing it as a win that moviegoing was still alive and well (per Entertainment Weekly). Cameron was complimentary of Marvel even before then; during a 2014 Reddit AMA, Cameron said "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" was one of the only movies that impressed him that year.

Ava DuVernay sees value in how many people the MCU reaches

Ava DuVernay has made an impact on the film industry with her impressive directorial body of work — particularly "Selma," her acclaimed 2014 historical drama. It was after that movie that DuVernay entered talks with Marvel to direct "Black Panther," and she was initially excited about the chance to reach such a huge audience, explaining (per ComingSoon), "These Marvel films go everywhere from Shanghai to Uganda, and nothing that I probably will make will reach that many people, so I found value in that." 

Though she ultimately passed on the project, citing creative differences, DuVernay remained excited about "Black Panther," tweeting about it often and sharing trailers and featurettes about the movie leading up to its release. Later, in a joint interview with Vulture – where DuVernay was promoting "A Wrinkle in Time" and Ryan Coogler was promoting "Black Panther" — DuVernay gushed over friend Tessa Thompson's performance in "Thor: Ragnarok," saying, "To see a friend so bold and ballsy and a character and representation that I've not really seen a Black woman inhabit before in that space, where it's kind of psychedelic fantasy, and she just owned it? It was very moving."

George Miller doesn't think anyone gets to decide what is and isn't cinema

George Miller has been making films for over 40 years and was still making Oscar-winning movies in his fifth decade as a filmmaker. Beyond those impressive credentials, he also holds the rare distinction of having been able to bring back one of his movie franchises — "Mad Max" — after an astounding 30-year gap and have the return be a massive hit with both critics and audiences. With all that in mind, he's in rare company in terms of having his finger on the pulse of Hollywood across multiple eras of film.

While he didn't mention Scorsese or any other directors by name during his 2019 interview with Deadline, he clearly had the "Goodfellas" director's comments in mind when he stated, "To be honest, in terms of this debate, cinema is cinema and it's a very broad church. The test, ultimately, is what it means to the audience." He goes on to say, "To me, it's all cinema. I don't think you can ghettoize it and say, oh this is cinema or that is cinema. It applies to all the arts, to literature, the performing arts, painting and music, in all its form. It's such a broad spectrum, a wide range and to say that anyone is more significant or more important than the other, is missing the point." As for superhero movies in particular, Miller says he watches them all.

Kevin Smith is always ready to defend comic book movies

Few filmmakers in history have been more loud and proud about being a comic book fan than Kevin Smith. From writing a part for Stan Lee in "Mallrats" — a role that was more substantial than the one-liner cameos Lee became famous for in Marvel movies — to opening a real-life comic book store based on one he created for his films, Smith has even gone on to have a side career as an actual comic book writer. With all that in mind, his love of the MCU is probably the least surprising of anyone on this list, but it doesn't make his thoughts on the topic any less valid.

Smith was very diplomatic in responding to Martin Scorsese's criticism of superhero movies, summing up his thoughts by saying Scorsese or anyone else criticizing a thing you like "doesn't take away from your enjoyment of the thing" (per Forbes). As far as Smith specifically going to bat for the MCU, it's not at all hard to find a million quotes from him that accomplish that feat. But the fact he teamed up with the platform Movies Anywhere (per ComicBook.com) to create an entire top 10 list of his favorite MCU movies is as strong a case as any that he's a big fan. In it, the longtime moviegoer said "Avengers: Endgame" was "one of the best experiences [he's] ever had in a theater."

Barry Jenkins gushed about how Wakanda Forever handled the absence of Chadwick Boseman

Some directors work literally for decades before they win an Oscar — including, infamously, Martin Scorsese himself, who didn't have an Academy Award to his name until his 2007 best director win for "The Departed," which was also his first movie to ever win best picture. Meanwhile, there are those like Barry Jenkins, who already had both his own personal Oscar win (for best adapted screenplay) and a best picture winner just two films into his career with "Moonlight."

Jenkins is also different from Scorsese in that he loves MCU movies. In a string of tweets in 2019 (as collected by Indian Express), the filmmaker was overflowing with love for "Avengers: Endgame," praising the direction of the Russo brothers, the performances of Brie Larson and Mark Ruffalo, and various other technical and artistic aspects of the film. More recently, in another Twitter thread, Jenkins spoke very highly of the way "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" handled the loss of "Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman, stating, "The absence is acknowledged and the presence created in that acknowledgment is beyond moving. Seeing this, there is no way that role being recast would have been more thoughtful or honorable than this." 

Dee Rees saw Black Panther twice in the theater

These days, even movies that are initially released exclusively to theaters are destined to be streamable from home not long after. With that in mind, it's an even bigger compliment now than it's ever been when someone sees a movie at the theater more than once, rather than just waiting until it hits their streaming platform of choice a few months later in order to enjoy subsequent viewings. And filmmaker Dee Rees paid that compliment to "Black Panther" when she saw it twice at the theater — and moreover, wanted to brag about that fact.

Rees — best known for her Oscar-nominated film "Mudbound" and her Queen Latifah-starring HBO biopic "Bessie" – told IndieWire in 2018 how much she loved "Black Panther" during both of her theatrical viewings of the film. In addition to proclaiming it the best Marvel movie of all time, Rees elaborated, "'Black Panther' has a philosophy, it's hard to find an action movie that actually has a philosophy. It has fully developed characters, and it has a world and it has a logic to it." And, like most who detail their love of "Black Panther," Rees also gushed about the talent of director Ryan Coogler, calling him "a brilliant filmmaker."

Paul Thomas Anderson says his entire household is Marvel-obsessed

With multiple Oscar nominations and several other accolades under his belt, Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of the past few decades. He's had the honor of working with Daniel Day-Lewis on best picture nominees "There Will Be Blood" and "Phantom Thread." PTA, as Anderson is sometimes called, also gave Adam Sandler a shot to show off his dramatic side in the 2002 movie "Punch Drunk Love," which earned Sandler a Golden Globe nomination. Anderson's work is typically far-removed from the big-budget spectacle of the MCU, but that doesn't mean he can't enjoy a good blockbuster.

While he was promoting his film "Licorice Pizza" in 2021, Variety asked PTA if any recent movies have interested him. The very first film he mentioned was "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," calling the movie "good fun" and saying, "There's a terrific energy about it." PTA went on to explain that his whole family loves Marvel and is excited by "continuing the journey of these Marvel stories." He also went on to praise the divisive "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," proving that his affection for Marvel properties on the big screen isn't limited to the dedicated MCU. 

Guillermo del Toro counts several MCU films among his favorite superhero movies

Given that he not only has a history with directing comic book movies, but Marvel ones in particular, calling out Guillermo del Toro for being an MCU ally might feel a little like grasping at low-hanging fruit. However, despite showing a love for comic properties by directing the first two "Hellboy" movies and "Blade II," del Toro revealed in an interview with ComicBook.com that he's "not a superhero guy" and is more interested in monster characters and narratives. He also seemed to show an overall preference for DC as opposed to Marvel during the interview.

Nevertheless, in a tweet from 2018, del Toro made a list of superhero movies he does like, and included a generous five entries from the MCU: "Iron Man," "Thor: Ragnarok," "Doctor Strange," "Black Panther," and "Guardians of the Galaxy." Those picks were mixed in with the likes of "The Dark Knight," "Logan," Sam Raimi's first two "Spider-Man" movies, and Richard Donner's "Superman," all films that have generally been liked even by those who otherwise dismiss superhero movies. It should be noted that del Toro and Neil Gaiman brought an idea for a "Doctor Strange" movie to Marvel president Kevin Feige way back when the MCU was first coming together, but it obviously never came about (per Josh Horowitz).

Spike Lee wants to direct a Marvel movie (but not a DC one)

To be fair, the most Spike Lee has ever publicly said in praise of the MCU is that he'd be open to directing a Marvel film if "the right opportunity comes across" (via Entertainment Weekly). But considering that it's all the rage for directors to step up and specifically say they'd never direct a superhero movie — and for actors to say they'd never be in a superhero movie — just having Lee be warm to the idea says plenty about his feelings toward the MCU.

It also doesn't hurt that Lee shared in the interview he read "Spider-Man" comics as a kid, but wasn't too fond of DC, saying, "DC Comics was always corny." Ouch! When told that his words might set off a fan meltdown on the internet, Lee simply doubled down on personally preferring Marvel, rather than further bashing DC. It seems unlikely Marvel would ever give Lee the creative control he'd require to do an MCU movie, but it sure is fun to speculate on what that might look like regardless.

John Carpenter thinks grumpy old directors need to accept that tastes evolve

Comic book writing can represent a meaningful cross-disciplinary leap for many filmmakers. John Carpenter, who pioneered multiple genres in his career and is responsible for some of the biggest cult classics in movie history, has also worked in the medium of comics for many years. In fact, he and his wife Sandy King run their own comic imprint – Storm King Comics – that specializes in horror comics. Carpenter also worked on a "Big Trouble in Little China" comic book series in the 2010s based on his 1986 film of the same name that saw the continued adventures of Jack Burton.

When sharing his thoughts on superhero movies, Carpenter didn't directly acknowledge anyone, though he was clearly responding to Scorsese and company. His response wasn't flowery and eloquent but was true to Carpenter's nature. In a 2016 interview with The Irish Times, Carpenter didn't mince words when he said, "A lot of old-timers like to b***h, but that's all garbage. Movies are for the young." On comic book movies in particular, Carpenter further explained, "Audiences are still enthralled by the kind of movies that are being made. That's what counts. Audiences love superhero movies. And that's all good. Things evolve and things change." It's refreshing to see a veteran filmmaker who doesn't criticize modern audiences for liking what they like and is just happy that people still love the medium of film.

Paul Feig says Marvel movies are both cinematic and artful

A lot of the filmmakers who have pushed back against Scorsese and those that agree with him have done so while also relenting that MCU movies are, in fact, just fun rides — instead going the route of saying movies don't have to be artsy to be valid. On the other hand, Paul Feig — director of "Bridesmaids," "Spy," and "Ghostbusters: Answer the Call" — wasn't afraid to use the a-word when describing his thoughts on the MCU.

In a 2019 interview with the website Entertainment.ie, Feig says that any movie that resonates with its audience is justified in calling itself both cinematic and artful. He explains, "I think those [Marvel] movies are very cinematic and are very artfully put together." Feig also invokes the in-this-together spirit of both moviemaking and moviegoing, saying, "I think that any movie that entertains and hits its mark with an audience is a valid and great movie, and I'm in support of all movies." That last point is an extremely important one, as many have pointed out this whole debate about franchise movies does nothing but divide us as film fans rather than bring us together — which is what movies are supposed to do in the first place.

Antoine Fuqua has almost directed several Marvel movies and still wants to do so

"Training Day" director and frequent Denzel Washington collaborator Antoine Fuqua has had his name swirl around several Marvel movie projects over the years. According to Fuqua himself during a 2018 interview with JoBlo, the director had been in talks with Marvel to work on both "Black Panther" and the movie that eventually became "Morbius." While Fuqua didn't end up helming either film, he says he is most definitely still interested in taking on a Marvel project and hopes he gets the opportunity someday.

Fuqua said he watches and follows Marvel movies because of his son. Any director who hasn't specifically and loudly ruled out the possibility of directing an MCU movie is automatically deemed something of a fan by default, but the fact that Fuqua has also said he watches the movies with his son shows he doesn't have any issues with superhero movies. And who knows — if anyone could lure Washington into the MCU, it's Fuqua, who collaborated with the actor on "The Equalizer 3."

Steven Spielberg was very impressed by Guardians of the Galaxy

We know what Martin Scorsese thinks about the MCU, but what about his longtime contemporaries George Lucas and Steven Spielberg? Lucas might not say all that much about the MCU, but he did usher in the first feature-length theatrical Marvel movie ever: 1986's "Howard the Duck." So he's already got a Marvel movie on his resume. How about Mr. Spielberg, who previously criticized Hollywood's overreliance on big-budget blockbusters and called superhero movies a fad (per The Hollywood Reporter)?

During the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, Spielberg had some things to say about superhero movies — and they were largely positive. Speaking with French outlet Omelete (English translation via Collider), Spielberg said he was a fan of the 1978 "Superman" movie and Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight," as well as 2008's "Iron Man." He then goes on to praise another MCU film, "Guardians of the Galaxy," saying it was the "superhero film that impressed [him] most." Spielberg said he liked the movie because of the way it blended a sense of humor and lack of cynicism with being dark and gritty when it needed to be. 

In response, "Guardians of the Galaxy" writer and director James Gunn called Spielberg's praise of the movie "the greatest compliment of [his] life" on his Facebook page.