Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese believe, variously, that Marvel movies are either “despicable” or “not cinema”. Coppola’s nephew Nicolas Cage this week revealed that his only problem with the Disney-owned superhero cinematic universe is that it didn’t come into play early enough to help him avoid making those execrable Ghost Rider flicks.
“Yeah, why do they do that?” Cage asked GQ when reminded of Coppola and Scorsese’s excoriating 2019 attacks on the MCU, which drew huge criticism at the time from Marvel film-makers such as Taika Waititi and James Gunn. “I don’t understand the conflict. I don’t agree with them on that perception or opinion.”
Added Cage: “Marvel has done a really excellent job of entertaining the whole family. They put a lot of thought into it. It’s definitely had a big progression from when I was doing the first two Ghost Rider movies. Kevin Feige, or whoever is behind that machine, has found a masterful way of weaving the stories together and interconnecting all the characters.”
Cage continued: “What could be wrong with wholesome entertainment that is appealing to parents and children, and gives people something to look forward to? I don’t see what the issue is.”
You can’t really blame Cage for getting passionately involved – the lifelong comic book fan is so invested in Marvel that his stage name was inspired by the superhero Luke Cage. The Oscar-winner’s real name is Nicolas Kim Coppola.
For those who need a recap, Scorsese sparked the original anti-Marvel furore with comments made during his Bafta’s David Lean lecture in October 2019, where he described cinema as having become like “amusement parks” thanks to an over abundance of superhero movies. He then doubled down in an interview with Empire, stating: “The value of a film that’s like a theme park film, for example, the Marvel-type pictures, where the theatres become amusement parks, that’s a different experience. I was saying earlier, it’s not cinema, it’s something else.”
Coppola then backed up his buddy with comments made to journalists in Lyon after his acceptance of the Prix Lumière for contribution to cinema.
“When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration,” he said. “I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again. Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”
Cage hinted that Coppola and Scorsese may have taken aim at Marvel because big-budget superhero films take spots that might once have gone to mid-budget indie movies, such as the ones he continues to star in.
“I think that the movies that I make, like Pig or Joe, are not in any kind of conflict with Marvel movies,” Cage said. “I don’t think the Marvel movie had anything to do with the end of the tweener. By tweener, I mean the $30m to $50m budget movie. I think movies are in good shape.”
Cage did star in a decent comic book movie, of course: 2010’s controversial Kick-Ass, in which he channelled Adam West-era Batman as a vigilante known as Big Daddy. But his comments on Marvel, along with his passion for comics, suggest that he would be more than keen to return to the MCU. Ghost Rider appeared in the spin-off TV show Agents of SHIELD, played by Gabriel Luna rather than Cage, but with the multiverse in full swing there’s no reason Feige and his team couldn’t reach out and bring back the original “man on fire”.
Perhaps, with his nephew on board, Coppola may even be persuaded to take a second look at these movies he has so comprehensively dismissed. Realistically though, there’s probably a greater chance of The Godfather part four going into production than the veteran film-maker ever changing his mind on this one.