About a week ago, we ran a story quoting Francis Ford Coppola, where he had some unkind words for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It would appear that his responses taken during his recent visit to France were mistranslated. Deadline‘s Mike Fleming Jr. spoke again to Mr. Coppola about his comments, while also providing verbatim translations of the seemingly divisive previous comments.
When again asked about superhero films, the director clarified:
“Personally I don’t like the idea of franchises, the notion that you can keep repeating what is essentially the same movie for financial gain — in other words, what is a formulaic approach. I feel that approach is taken to reduce the economic risk of movies, and I feel the “risk factor” is an element that makes movies sometimes be great. Also, the formulaic film draws most available resources to them, leaving little for more daring productions, reducing diversity. In some ways I think the cinema is like food; certainly you can add things to make it tempting, tasty and enjoyable but it must also be nutritious to qualify as real food.”
This is indeed a less severe take than the “despicable” remark we saw last week. Coppola is not wrong when he mentions that studios want to avoid risk and bank on a safe investment. Reboots, remakes, and sequels of already established franchises have built-in audiences and merchandising possibilities. The cost, though, is felt by filmmakers who are looking to take risks. For every Marvel sequel, how many films like ‘Dark City’ are we missing out on?
Flemming’s article went on to document a lengthier and hopefully more faithful translation of Coppola’s comments. These comments were regarding Martain Scorcese’s negative views on the superhero film genre:
“You know I’m sure you’re extracting from whatever Martin said. The gist of his statement. If you asked him is there is cinematic talent, cinematic expression, is there great even work in certain Marvel films, he would say yes. But what his point his, is that the concept of the Marvel film which has eaten up all the oxygen, which is to say the resources is not really is more of a theme park ride than what we would call cinema. Yes, I agree with him. (Pause for translation) But also television commercials is cinema – but is it a beautiful form of cinema? No.”
When pressed about the state of Hollywood today, Coppola did use the word “despicable,” but the context of the entire quote may make it a little more forgivable to some:
“Well you know because of the lack of risk in the production. Marty Scorsese says that the Marvel picture is not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. Arguably, I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again, which is the Marvel movies. A thing that has no risk to it, I’ve said before, making a film without risk is like making a baby without sex. Part of it is risk, and that’s what make it so interesting, that’s why we learn so much when it’s made. Also, there is a philosophy that a person of riches can be just or unjust. It’s very important when you talk about it. To gain riches unjustly, just uses up, it doesn’t contribute. Wealth is only what is just, what brings more to the society. Cinema is the same way. Real cinema brings something, a wonderful gift to society. It doesn’t just take money and make people rich. That’s despicable. So Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema, he didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just said it is.”
What do you think now that a better translation has surfaced?