Director Denis Villenevue made headlines this week, but not for the imminent release of his latest film.
The Dune director suggested that Marvel films have turned audiences "into zombies" due to being "cut and paste" of others in the genre. Villenueve's comments were reminiscent of legendary director Martin Scorsese's infamous opinions on the comic book movie realm, who had previously likened superhero flicks to "theme parks."
Just as Scorsese's remarks were met with backlash, Villeneuve's words have been subject to criticism by some big names in Hollywood.
Directors Push Back Against Villeneuve's Comments
Filmmakers are taking exception to Denis Villeneuve's disapproval of comic book movies.
Doctor Strange's Scott Derrickson reposted a tweet ("time to retweet this") from December 2020 that criticized directors for bringing down their own kind:
"As a director I don’t slag on the work of other directors even when I don’t like something they’ve made. This job is hard enough for all of us, and nobody ever sets out to make a bad movie."
In a follow-up post, Derrickson categorized those "who lambaste Marvel movies as all being the same" into two classes:
"Anyone who lambastes Marvel movies as all being the same has either a) not seen them all and therefore shouldn’t assume they’re all the same, or b) seen them all because hey, they actually quite like watching Marvel movies."
Critically-acclaimed sci-fi director Neil Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) was less diplomatic when responding to Villeneuve's comments, bluntly writing "what a f--king a--hole."
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Regardless of how fans feel about Villeneuve's comments, it's admirable to see acclaimed directors like Derrickson and Blomkamp standing up for the superhero genre.
But even the end of that sentence feels wrong.
The "superhero genre" is a hasty generalization, and the 2010s especially redefined the idea of what a comic book movie is.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a political thriller that happens to include a couple of Avengers. Joker is an Academy Award-winning dramatic character study that happens to feature a future Batman antagonist. The Suicide Squad is a dark comedy that happens to include an ensemble of vibrant villains from the DC Comics page.
Villeneuve's words come from a place of ignorance, and directors like Derrickson and Blomkamp recognized that. While the Chappie filmmaker shut down Villeneuve's opinions with four simple words, Derrickson's response is applause-worthy.
Not only is being a director an extremely difficult job, it's a vastly volatile career. Beyond making a good movie, filmmakers have a pressure to bring in big box office revenue. In 2021, a year when theaters are in the most danger they've ever been of closing down permanently, making a profitable picture is a tall order. Films like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' box office success open the door for future movies like Villeneuve's Dune to have a theatrical run in the first place.
It's a good thing "zombies" know how to buy movie tickets.