Are Marvel Movies Art?

There has been a pour of celebrities that have recently criticized Marvel movies. Jennifer Aniston noted that “What’s available out’s just diminishing and diminishing in terms of, it’s big Marvel movies.” Martin Scorsese has also criticized Marvel movies by comparing them to theme parks. I love Marvel movies, but to a certain extent, Martin Scorsese is right.


First and firstmost, I would like to note that Marvel movies are art. I don’t agree with Scorsese when he says that Marvel movies aren’t art. According to the Oxford dictionary, art is, “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.''


By that single definition, Marvel movies are art. Breaking down the definition further one can note that Marvel movies are creative and imaginative. Marvel movies also pack a great emotional punch and have made many fans (including me) cry. (Whoever says they didn’t cry when they watched The Avengers: Endgame is lying).


Then, if Marvel movies art then why are they so heavily criticized? One answer would be that Marvel movies are popular. (Bashing on what is popular or criticizing teens for the things they like is the oldest tale of time). Scorsese does criticize Marvel movies for this by noting in a recent New York Times article, “In many places around this country and around the world, franchise films are now your primary choice if you want to see something on the big screen...For anyone who dreams of making movies or who is just starting out, the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art. And the act of simply writing those words fills me with terrible sadness.”


Disney, in particular, seems bent on only producing sequels for Star Wars and superhero movies (and live-action movies). So, yes, in that regard Marvel movies have made it harder for filmmakers to produce films that are not superhero movies. Production companies are interested in making money and that is what is popular now. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Marvel movies aren’t art or cinema. 


Marvel movies are art. Though, as Scorsese says, Marvel movies tend to all blur together. As Scorsese noted, “What’s not there is a 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.”


He went on, “They are sequels in name but they are remakes in spirit, and everything in them is officially sanctioned because it can’t really be any other way.”


Marvel movies do often seem to blur together. But I won’t give that point to Scorsese. Marvel movies are cinema because they make an audience feel something. They take years to produce, film and write. It's a collective effort that makes those movies. It’s a collective effort that makes these movies popular. So, if the question here is whether Marvel movies are art or not the answer is a resounding yes. However, if the question is whether Marvel movies have made it harder for filmmakers to make original movies, then that answer is also yes. 


In short, we live in a complicated world.