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Martin Scorsese is right — comic book movies are not real cinema and they’re all terrible

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Film director Martin Scorsese apparently felt the need to clarify, in an op-ed for the New York Times no less, what he meant when he said that those godawful comic book movies are “not cinema.”

Anyone with an even mildly critical eye for movies — the script, the actors, the soundtrack and score, the camera work — knows exactly what he meant. He meant that a real movie is a major production where all parts should matter and contribute to a sensational experience.

Comic book movies aren’t real movies. They are, like Scorsese said last month, rides.

That doesn’t mean they’re not fun. Rides can be fun. But a real movie isn’t “fun.” A real movie is emotionally immersive. A real movie creates an entirely new experience for the viewer.

Scorsese explained that in the Times op-ed, writing, “What’s not there [in comic book movies] 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.”

Excluding this year’s Joker (which was more of a drama inspired by a comic character than a standard comic book movie), the last comic book movie I recall seeing in a theater was 2018’s Venom. It was just the same as any other movie in the same genre, which is to say the computer graphics and visuals were kind of thrilling, but everything else was an obvious afterthought: The dialogue was flat, the soundtrack was unmemorable, and the acting was average.

Compare any comic book movie to something like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which brought to life the story of a young boy who develops a direct emotional bond with an alien. (For those of you who like comic book movies, a “story” is otherwise known as a “plot” that has a beginning, middle, and end, with amusing or even stirring ups and downs throughout.)

Everyone who has seen it remembers the scene where Elliot flies with the E.T. on his bike accompanied by the soaring John Williams soundtrack.

I’ve seen the movie dozens of times since it came out in 1982, and the end still sometimes makes me cry.

Who cries during a comic book movie?

Scorsese doesn’t have to explain himself. There’s an obvious difference between comic book movies and real movies that everyone can see and feel themselves.

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