James Gunn says Martin Scorsese’s criticism of Marvel is “awful cynical”

James Gunn has commented again on Martin Scorsese’s criticism of Marvel films, after the director previously stated they were “not cinema”.

In 2019, Scorsese divided audiences after comparing comic-book movies, like Marvel’s Avengers and Spider-Man, to theme parks, saying: “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.” He later elaborated on his stance in a New York Times essay.

Gunn, director of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and DC’s The Suicide Squad, has since expanded on his previous response to Scorsese’s remarks, accusing the director of criticising superhero films to attract publicity for The Irishman.

The Suicide Squad
Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, John Cena as Peacemaker, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Peter Capaldi as The Thinker and Idris Elba as Bloodsport in ‘The Suicide Squad’ (Picture: Warner Bros. Pictures™ & DC Comics)

Asked if he feels a responsibility to defend superhero films during an appearance on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, noting Scorsese’s comments, Gunn said: “It just seems awful cynical that he kept coming out against Marvel, and that’s the only thing that would get him press for his movie, so then he just kept coming out against Marvel so that he could get press for his movie.

“So he’s creating his movie in the shadow of the Marvel films, and so he uses that to get attention for something that he wasn’t getting as much attention as he wanted for it.”

Gunn however agrees with aspects of Scorsese’s comments, adding: “He’s one of the greatest filmmakers who’s ever existed. I love his movies. I can watch his movies with no problem. And he said a lot of things that I agree with. There is a lot of things that are true about what he said. There are a lot of heartless, soulless spectacle films out there that don’t reflect what should be happening.”

The director is currently working on the third Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel, scheduled for release in 2023. In 2018, Gunn was removed from the project after controversial tweets from his past resurfaced, but was reinstated as director in March 2019.

Gunn has been involved in other Marvel projects too, serving as executive producer on Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder from director Taika Waititi.

Scorsese’s next film is titled Killers of the Flower Moon, starring long-time collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Brendan Fraser and Jesse Plemons.