Warning: spoilers for Loki season 2, episode 2.
Thanks to Loki season 2 episode 2, Marvel has responded to Martin Scorsese’s criticism of “cinema” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU has grown and expanded so much that it has served as an example of connected universes and has become a power force in the superhero genre. Although the MCU has been quite successful, it also has its detractors, among them some well-known filmmakers – and one who has been very open and honest about his opinion on superhero movies is Martin Scorsese.
Scorsese shared that Marvel movies are “not cinema” and compared them to theme parks, adding that they’re not the “cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being” (Empire, via The Guardian). Scorsese later added in an interview with ET that superhero movies are “their own new art form” and that cinema is changing, so his concern was losing the screens to “massive theme park films”. Of course, this sparked a lot of debate on the artistic value of superhero movies, and now Marvel has officially responded to this in Loki season 2, but in the most subtle and clever way.
How Loki Answers Scorsese’s Oldest MCU Criticism
Loki season 2 episode 2 doesn’t explicitly mention Scorsese nor his comments on Marvel and superhero movies, but it does respond to his criticism. Loki season 2 episode 2 sees Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Mobius (Owen Wilson) following Hunter X-5 (Rafael Casal), as he traveled to the Sacred Timeline to live as a movie actor named Brad Wolfe. When Loki and Mobius arrived in 1977, Wolfe was at the premiere of his new movie, Zaniac, a character taken from Marvel Comics. In the source material, Wolfe is also a movie star who is transformed by radiation from the Manhattan Project, gaining superhuman strength and the ability to create knives out of energy.
Brad knew where to find Sylvie, and he eventually told Mobius and Loki where she was. The three traveled to Oklahoma to meet with her, and while Loki and Sylvie had a conversation alone outside the McDonald’s where she now works at, Mobius and Brad stayed inside. Mobius asked Brad about Zaniac, telling him he saw the poster and it looked scary. Brad defended his movie saying that it’s not scary, and instead, it’s an “elevated thriller” and “it’s cinema. Thank you very much”. Although it’s a short statement, it’s a powerful one when taking into account the impact of Scorsese’s criticism of the MCU and superhero movies.
Why Loki’s Scorsese Nod Is So Clever
The MCU didn’t have to directly address Scorsese or say his name to defend what it does, and instead, it responded to all that criticism in a silly but subtle and clever way. Brad was simply defending his own movie as Mobius saw it as nothing more than a “scary” movie, and it’s easy to see why Morbius wouldn’t think highly of a movie like Zaniac: its protagonist is a green serial killer who targets women. This created the perfect scenario for Marvel to officially respond to Scorsese’s criticism but without taking offense and being serious and aggressive against Scorsese. Instead, Marvel embraced the situation and owned the insult by subtly admitting its movies are here for entertainment, but that doesn’t mean they’re not cinema.
Martin Scorsese is right when it comes to Marvel movies being events made for pure entertainment, but that’s also a goal of cinema and a branch of it. Surely, the MCU and superhero movies have dominated the box office in recent years, but it’s unlikely they will end up taking over all screens and leaving no room for other types of cinema, as Scorsese fears.
New episodes of Loki release every Thursday at 6pm PT / 9pm ET on Disney+.
Sources: Empire, ET
Key Release Dates
Captain America: Brave New World
Marvel’s Fantastic Four
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty
Avengers: Secret Wars
Subtle and clever. Read More