Francis Ford Coppola Defends Martin Scorsese, Calls Marvel Movies 'Despicable'

The debate over the merits of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still raging, thanks to continued comments by some of Hollywood's most legendary directors.

After Martin Scorsese made serious waves by saying that Marvel movies aren't "cinema," film discourse has centered entirely around Marvel's cinematic efforts as of late. Now, Scorsese's contemporary Francis Ford Coppola has chimed in with his own inflammatory thoughts.

At the Lumière Festival during which Coppola was receiving a special honor, the Godfather director stuck up for Scorsese (via Variety). He told French journalists in Lyon, "We expect from cinema that it brings us something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. I don't think anyone takes anything away from the experience of watching the same film over and over. Martin was being kind when he said it wasn't cinema [...] He didn't say it was despicable, which is what I say."

Earlier this month, Scorsese told Empire that he wouldn't really classify Marvel films as real "cinema," saying, "Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn't the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being."

Scorsese then doubled down on his controversial comments, arguing cinema can't be "invaded" by Marvel films and that it's up to filmmakers to fight back. He later offered a bit of clarity to his comments in saying, "The value of a film that's like a theme park film, for example, the Marvel-type pictures, where the theaters become amusement parks, that's a total different experience [...] I was saying earlier, it's not cinema, it's something else. Whether you go for that or not."

This argument, which has continued for several weeks, is now pitting the old guard of Hollywood against its modern money-makers. Scorsese and Coppola might not think that there's a lot of artistic integrity in the MCU, but judging by its overall box office haul, audiences aren't particularly focused on that side of the story.

Stars speak out in the Marvel movie debate

Scorsese and Coppola aren't the only ones who have spoken out about this particular debate. Several MCU alumni have risen to Marvel's defense — including Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Joss Whedon, and James Gunn — as well as other directors like Kevin Smith.

Gunn has been the most outspoken thus far, responding to both Scorsese and Coppola in turn. When the legendary Marty first commented on the MCU, Gunn expressed disappointment in the director, writing on Twitter that he was "saddened" that Scorsese was judging his films in "the same way" that some of Scorsese's past works were criticized. Coppola's incredibly blunt comments have drawn even more ire from the Guardians of the Galaxy director.

Taking to Instagram, Gunn responded to Coppola's remarks, posting a screenshot from Guardians alongside a lengthy caption: "Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them 'despicable.' Some of our great grandfathers thought the same of westerns, and believed the films of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, and Sergio Leone were all exactly the same. [...] I remember a great uncle to whom I was raving about Star Wars. He responded by saying, 'I saw that when it was called 2001, and, boy, was it boring!' Superheroes are simply today's gangsters/cowboys/outer space adventurers. Some superhero films are awful, some are beautiful. Like westerns and gangster movies (and before that, just MOVIES), not everyone will be able to appreciate them, even some geniuses. And that's okay."

It's clear that this debate won't let up any time soon, but as far as Marvel fans are concerned, the MCU provides entertainment, escapism, and familiar stories, and features some of the biggest names in acting. If these beloved films are entertaining audiences across the world, then that's really all that matters — no matter what Scorsese and Coppola might think.