James Gunn Calls Martin Scorsese ‘Greatest Living American Filmmaker’

Well, that escalated quickly. Early Wednesday afternoon, a new Happy Sad Confused podcast interview with The Suicide Squad director James Gunn reignited comic book movie Twitter’s favorite argument: Why doesn’t Martin Scorsese like superhero movies? More particularly why doesn’t he like Marvel superhero movies, which when asked about several years ago, he said were “not cinema.” Perhaps unwisely, Gunn gave his two cents on that subject when pressed on the matter.

“I just think it seems awful cynical that he would keep coming out against Marvel, and that was the only thing that would get him press for his movie,” Gunn said about the legendary filmmaker, noting how at the time of his criticisms of superhero movies, Scorsese was doing press for The Irishman. “So then he just kept coming out against Marvel so he could get press for his movie. So he’s creating his movie in the shadow of the Marvel films, so he uses that to get attention for something that wasn’t getting as much attention as he wanted for it.”

Frankly, this quote appears misguided and arguably overly defensive. For years, the iconoclastic filmmaker has made himself the social media champion of the ability to create art within the confines of big budget studio blockbuster filmmaking. And we’d argue in the case of at least Gunn’s superhero movies, including both Guardians of the Galaxy films and now The Suicide Squad, he’s succeeded. However, it seems questionable the filmmaker of Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, and Raging Bull sought the “superhero movie” headlines so much as journalists eager to write those headlines pushed the matter by bringing it up with the auteur time and again.

Not all superhero movies are art. Some might even argue most of them are not. However, that a septuagenarian artist hasn’t gone out to study the finer points of the unique ones with a talking raccoon shouldn’t necessarily raise any eyebrows. With that said, just as the internet is eager to frame all stories in the shadow of Marvel, Gunn got a reminder of how it and social media can take the simple headline of “filmmaker calls Martin Scorsese cynical” and ignore the actual nuance of what else Gunn said on the podcast.

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