Stellan Skarsgard says Marvel movies may be bad for business

Stellan Skarsgard says Marvel movies may be bad for business

Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard has weighed in on the movie franchise that keeps getting trash-talked by the biggest and best directors.

Superhero flicks have been getting the flick from many acclaimed and talented directors over the last few years but Stellan Skarsgard has shared a rather nuanced opinion on the genre.

For a bunch of fantastical films aimed to please a wide, family-based audience, the Marvel films sure do divide film critiques on whether or not the franchise is any good.

Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard has recently made his own opinion known about the insanely high budget films, that he himself has been a part of.

The actor, best known for his roles in Good Will Hunting and Mamma Mia! is also recognisable as Doctor Erik Selvig from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Skarsgard was asked for his thoughts on the matter at the Gotenberg Film Festival and gave a considered and eloquent response.

Rather than sharing his thoughts on whether or not he even likes the movies, Skarsgard pointed out that these $200 million movies are actually detrimental to the creation of lower budget cinema.

“I’ve got nothing against superhero movies. I’ve been in a couple and they definitely have a place. The problem is that the system that allows eight people to own half of the death in the world enhances the power of the market forces, so small and independent cinemas rarely exist any more outside a few big cities.” 

Many of the best in the biz have trashed the undeniably popular superhero films in the past few years and it was only just last week that award-winning Alien director Ridley Scott was quoted referring to Marvel movies as “f*cking boring as sh*t”.

Skarsgard went on to say, “What Martin Scorsese wrote in his article [in the New York Times] was not that it was Marvel’s fault because it’s not and he knows that. The fault is that we have, for decades, believed that the market should rule everything and that the rich should get richer. And that is the root of it all because what has happened is that all the different small distribution companies have been erased.”

The article Skarsgard referred to was released in 2019 when the famed director Martin Scorsese said in an interview with Empire magazine, “Marvel movies aren’t cinema”.

Scorsese’s explosive comment circulated the internet and enraged Marvel fans to a point where Scorsese felt it necessary to articulate his opinion further.

In November 2019, Martin Scorses wrote an article that was published in the New York Times titled Martin Scorses: I Said Marvel Movies Aren’t Cinema. Let Me Explain. And he did just that.

The New York Times piece outlined that Scorsese’s fundamental ideas of film isn’t catered to in these superhero films because he grew up at a different time and developed a different sense of taste. He wrote about the reasons he came to love and respect cinema, 

“cinema was about revelation — aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation. It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves.”

Scorsese’s explaination of his opinion was perfectly mild mannered and outlined that tastes do infact differ and one person’s opinion cannot outrule another’s. Even if you think that the Marvel and DC movies have a formulaic structure that ticks boxes for market researchers in order to churn out the same (pretty much) movie with different costumes, over and over.

Many of the once-off quotes that trash the Marvel movies have certainly been sensationalised to make some of the greatest directors in history look jealous and petty. Though Ridley Scott did seem to go full old-man-yells-at-cloud about why millenials preferred certain films, he somewhat justified his point of view in a critical manner, saying that poor screenplays are the issue, 

“Sorry. I got off the rail, but I mean, c’mon. They’re mostly saved by special effects, and that’s becoming boring for everyone who works with special effects, if you’ve got the money.”

Considering the timeless nature of Scott’s films, it’s probably worth noting that he speaks with some authority on the matter.

Skarsgard’s comments offer another, potentially much more important, side of the conversation that is no so much a matter of taste but an insight from the industry itself.

“It’s a monopoly everywhere. Some film companies are not anymore run by people who want to make money specifically out of the film because they like the film. They are run by big corporations that want 10% back on their invested capital. Which means that as long as they sell popcorn, it’s fine. That’s why all the mid-range films lower than 100 million dollars in budget and over three million dollars in budget, they don’t exist anymore.”

Skargard continuted, “mid-range films are those that can slowly grow in the cinema. They opened in a few cinemas and they went for years. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was continuously running in Stockholm for 20 years. That will not happen now. So it’s not all the fault of Marvel. It’s the fault of an idea about how the economical systems of the world should work. Because these systems are all fiction, but the fiction that we have had for the last couple of decades has led to this.”

“The people’s opinion has no chance any more. And that is sad.”

While it’s no sin to enjoy the newest Marvel film, in fact it’s been designed in a way to ensure that you do, maybe the next time you’re looking to be surprised and to be touched by a cinematic experience, you could enjoy seeing something with a small budget and a big heart at an independant theatre.