Amidst the rise of streaming and cord-cutting, the reign of franchises and sequels, and the uncertain future of the box office, there has been one constant: Marvel Studios. As other studios struggle with what audiences want and how they choose to consume it, theater chains can always count on the public to return to the big screen for an MCU blockbuster as Shang-Chi and the now record-breaking Spider-Man: No Way Home has proven.
Still, while the general public loves the MCU, Hollywood doesn't necessarily feel the same way. In recent years, a number of directors have expressed their frustrations with Marvel Studios' success, particularly in this era where franchises and sequels soak up studio funding and originals are overlooked.
Marvel Studios has also felt snubbed in terms of recognition, particularly in regard to the Academy; and even though Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has spoken out against "genre bias," Spider-Man: No Way Home still failed to receive a Best Picture nomination this year, despite being both a financial and critical success.
On the heels of what some claim to be an Oscar snub, The Godfather and Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola has voiced his own disapproval of Marvel films, as well as the lack of originality seen by today's blockbuster directors.
Francis Ford Coppola Criticizes Marvel Movies
In an interview with GQ about plans for his Megalopolis film, legendary director Francis Ford Coppola shared his thoughts on today's film industry, joining the ranks of other Hollywood filmmakers who are anything but a fan of the Marvel Studios machine.
Much like Dune's Denis Villeneuve who claimed Marvel films are "cut and paste," The Godfather director asserted that, "A Marvel picture is one prototype movie that is made over and over and over and over and over again to look different:"
“There used to be studio films. Now there are Marvel pictures. And what is a Marvel picture? A Marvel picture is one prototype movie that is made over and over and over and over and over again to look different."
Coppola's criticism wasn't limited to just the MCU. The director also took issue with "even the talented people," including Denis Villeneuve, for having "the same sequence:"
"Even the talented people—you could take Dune, made by Denis Villeneuve, an extremely talented, gifted artist, and you could take No Time to Die, directed by…Gary? Cary Fukunaga—extremely gifted, talented, beautiful artists, and you could take both those movies, and you and I could go and pull the same sequence out of both of them and put them together. The same sequence where the cars all crash into each other. They all have that."
This isn't the first time Coppola has condemned Marvel films and the superhero genre.
In 2019, the director argued that Marvel films aren't cinema because "we expect to learn something from cinema," and even referred to The Irishman's Martin Scorcese's issue with the franchise, saying, "He didn't say it's despicable, which I just say it is."
Coppola's History with Hollywood Franchises
As this isn't the first time Coppola has expressed his distaste for the MCU, his comments aren't surprising, especially since the director is seeking funding for an original film. What is surprising, however, is the content of his comments.
Directors' claims that Marvel movies are all the same is an example of Hollywood's own echo chamber. Recent years, and especially Marvel's Disney+ series, have shown that each MCU project is unique and distinct from the rest in terms of genre, style, and tone.
In fact, this is one of the many ways the studio appeals to a wide audience and continues to grow its viewership base.
While it seems safe to say that Coppola hasn't seen an MCU film or series, it sounds as if he hasn't seen Denis Villeneuve's Dune either, especially since James Bond-style car crashes aren't exactly common on Arrakis.
Even though Coppola rails against franchises and IP now, it's worth noting that Coppola showed audiences the merit of sequels with The Godfather Part II and that The Godfather is, itself, a franchise.
In addition, Coppola supposedly encouraged his friend George Lucas to write something audiences could relate to, leading to the director's first hit with American Graffiti which he followed up with one of the most famous franchises and IP's of all - Star Wars.
Despite what some in Hollywood might think today, the general audience isn't dumb. A particular story or cast or the promise of special effects doesn't guarantee love from the audience. After all, this is why the general public rejected the Academy Award-nominated Don't Look Up.
But just like Coppola said himself, quality cinema is what audiences can relate to and something they can learn from, and those very elements are at the core of MCU films like Spider-Man: No Way Home and even Disney+ series like WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Why else would viewers keep coming back if the elements of the film or series were just the same as others?
Perhaps the real task the film industry faces isn't just getting the public back to theaters, but Hollywood too.