Martin Scorsese, director of some of the greatest films of all time, wrote this in a New York Times op-ed in November:
“I said that I’ve tried to watch a few of them (Marvel movies) and that they’re not for me, that they seem to me to be closer to theme parks than they are to movies as I’ve known and loved them throughout my life, and that in the end, I don’t think they’re cinema . . . Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures. What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.”
Disney CEO Bob Iger doesn’t care, saying to Time Magazine this week: “If Marty Scorsese wants to be in the business of taking artistic risk, all power to him. It doesn’t mean that what we’re doing isn’t art.”
In fact, that’s exactly what it means, because to do art is synonymous with taking risk.
Greta Thunberg proclaiming “How dare you?” to world leaders and receiving death threats because of it: that’s risky. Rosa Parks at the front of the bus: that’s risky. Oscar Wilde writing with homosexual overtones in the nineteenth century: that’s risky.
Creating a movie that’s written and produced by committee, audience-tested, retested, and retested until it gives them exactly what they want, producing the greatest amount of satisfaction and delighting the CEO? That’s not risky, and it’s not art.
Creating consumer products is a fine business to be in, but let’s not diminish the sanctity of art in the process.