James Gunn Answers Francis Ford Coppola: ‘Superheroes Are Simply Today’s Gangsters’

James Gunn Francis Ford Coppola Groot

“Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn answered Francis Ford Coppola’s criticism of Marvel movies Sunday, saying superhero films are, for today’s audiences, what gangster films, Westerns, and sci-fi movies were for moviegoers of the past.

Coppola, director of our most revered “gangster movie,” The Godfather, was quoted this weekend calling Marvel movies “despicable.”

“Many of our grandfathers thought all gangster movies were the same, often calling them ‘despicable,'” Gunn said on Instagram. “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.”

He continued: “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!'”

Also read: Francis Ford Coppola Raises Scorsese, Calls Marvel Movies ‘Despicable’

Gunn concluded: “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.”

Coppola, director of our most revered “gangster movie,” The Godfather, was quoted this weekend calling Marvel movies “despicable.”

Coppola was responding to Martin Scorsese saying that Marvel movies are “not cinema,” and threaten to crowd smaller films out of theaters.

Also read: Watch Martin Scorsese’s Full Comments on ‘Theme Park’ Marvel Movies

“When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration,” Coppola told journalists in the French city of Lyon, after receiving the Prix Lumiere for his contributions to cinema, according to Agence France Presse.

“I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again,” Coppola continued. “Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”

Scorsese has spoken about Marvel movies while promoting his new film The Irishman.

“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,” he told Empire.

Scorese elaborated at the BFI London Film Festival that he wanted to protect the “communal experience” of watching films in theaters, and that smaller films will be crowded out of theaters if big-budget Marvel-style films occupy every screen. He discussed “the value of a film that’s like a theme-park film for example, the Marvel-type pictures where the theaters become amusement parks.”

“It’s not cinema, it’s something else,” Scorsese said. “Whether you go for that or not. But it is something else, and we shouldn’t be invaded by it. And so that’s a big issue, that’s a big issue, and we need the theater owners to step up for that, you see, to allow theaters to show pictures that are narrative films.”

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