Recently we talked about the trend where the Academy no longer recognizes blockbusters and superhero films at the Oscars.
Joe Russo, one of the directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, commented on this last year, saying: “It’s strange that the comic-book film genre is so often thought of only in terms of its economic merits.”
Now another Marvel director is speaking out about this trend. James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy (the biggest film of 2014), responded to a joke made during the opening number at the Oscars as well as what Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy said in his acceptance speech at the Independent Spirit Awards:
“I didn’t really find the Jack Black superhero jokes offensive, did you guys? It was, like, a joke. I’m not sure if you guys noticed, but the writing on the Oscars didn’t seem to be all that well thought out.
As far as Dan Gilroy saying that attendees of the Independent Spirit Awards have survived against a “tsunami of superhero films” – well it seems a bit weird coming from a guy whose wife has acted in two Thor films – really, that seems like you’ve drowned horribly in that tsunami. But I know I just kind of make up stuff as I go along on these awards shows, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Whatever the case, the truth is, popular fare in any medium has always been snubbed by the self-appointed elite. I’ve already won more awards than I ever expected for Guardians. What bothers me slightly is that many people assume because you make big films that you put less love, care, and thought into them then people do who make independent films or who make what are considered more serious Hollywood films.
I’ve made B-movies, independent films, children’s movies, horror films, and gigantic spectacles. I find there are plenty of people everywhere making movies for a buck or to feed their own vanity. And then there are people who do what they do because they love story-telling, they love cinema, and they want to add back to the world some of the same magic they’ve taken from the works of others. In all honesty, I do no find a strikingly different percentage of those with integrity and those without working within any of these fields of film.
If you think people who make superhero movies are dumb, come out and say we’re dumb. But if you, as an independent filmmaker or a “serious” filmmaker, think you put more love into your characters than the Russo Brothers do Captain America, or Joss Whedon does the Hulk, or I do a talking raccoon, you are simply mistaken.”
It’s not revolutionary to voice this opinion, but Gunn’s voice holds a certain amount of weight. Plus it’s nice to hear when people speak up to defend the genre film.
Superhero films may not hold the same kind of weight as other films, but there is unmistakable passion embedded in them. They can create discussions (as Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 did) and impress critics across the board (like most of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy did). Some people might think of superhero films as merely popcorn flicks, but to other fans they’re a lot more than that.
And what’s wrong with being a popcorn flick anyway? Aren’t movies just as much about entertainment as they are about art? The two ideas are not mutually exclusive, despite what plenty of Hollywood politics dictates.
I applaud Gunn for this point of view and for taking a proud stance alongside the superhero film genre. Hopefully more people can start thinking a little more like him in the future.
What do you think? Do you love superhero films and wish they got more credit? Share your thoughts in the comments!