It’s nothing new that the popular franchise would draw in negative criticism, especially with directors that focus more on the auteur aspect of cinema. Marvel Studios’ approach has proven successful, but is naturally not without its faults, especially in the earlier days. In an interview with the magazine El Mundos, the following remark was translated by Dune‘s director Denis Villeneuve while promoting his next tentpole film.
There are too many Marvel movies that are nothing more than a cut and paste of others.Denis Villeneuve
It’s certainly a harsh statement in regard to Marvel Studio’s approach to filmmaking. Still, it’s not the first time this kind of remark has found its way online. Curious enough, there have been some potentially misleading translations surrounding this quote as the context was left out. Michelle Jaworski, a reporter for the Daily Dot, pointed out that the translation may be quite different:
As long as you feel a personality in a project, that it is an artistic object and that there is a will at work, it is not a question of money. But how we approach the cinema. The problem today…Well, if we’re talking about Marvel, the thing is, all these films are made from the same mold. Some filmmakers can add a little color to it, but they’re all cast in the same factory. It doesn’t take anything away from the movies, but they are formatted.Denis Villeneuve
He then goes on to highlight that the Dune film is a personal one and how he tried to be more mainstream with his approach. The translation does offer a bit more context on it, as it’s less a downplay of Marvel’s films but rather that their approach generally sidelines the director. Ironically, there has been criticism on their Disney+ side where they supposedly take away roles from showrunners. The director has praised Chloé Zhao and even Marvel Studios for breaking their usual mold in an interview for Harper’s BAZAAR.
I’m your biggest fan. I think it’s genius that Marvel approached you because you’re the radical opposite of it aesthetically.Denis Villeneuve
As such, it’s less an attack directed at Marvel Studios but rather the current approach to filmmaking that resulted from their success. It’s also come to a point where “Marvel” has become a generalized term for any franchise-focused production by auteurs. He praises Marvel Studios for taking this step and it may be a sign of his hope for a change within the industry.
It’s not an easy discussion and there will be different views on the current state of cinema and Hollywood, especially if you consider the streaming debacle. Zhao‘s upcoming Eternals film is inspired and was pitched with Villeneuve‘s films as inspiration. So, perhaps it’ll echo in a revival of the auteur approach and they find a balance between these different approaches.