Tarantino argued that Captain America and Thor are the stars, not the actors who portray them before expressing his “ax to grind” is that these films are the only ones generating “any kind of excitement.”
Count Quentin Tarantino as the latest director to express frustration with the ongoing dominance of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in theaters, with the “Pulp Fiction” director taking aim at the films’ stars.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star Simu Liu fired back after Tarantino lashed out at the MCU during an appearance on the “2 Bears, 1 Cave” podcast, as reported by Mediaite. “They’re not movie stars, right?” he said of MCU’s leads.
As Tarantino explained what he calls the “Marvel-ization of Hollwyood,” it’s the characters like Captain America, Thor and Spider-Man who are the stars, not the actors portraying them. “I mean, I’m not the first person to say that,” he argued. “But it’s like, you know, it’s these franchise characters that become a star.”
He went on to admit that the films might not be for him as a man approaching 60, confessing that “if these movies were coming out when I was in my twenties, I would totally be f—ing happy and totally love them.”
He finally got to the actual crux of the matter, when he noted that 40 years ago, these wouldn’t have been the only movies coming out — and that’s kind of how it feels these days.
“They’re the only things that seem to be made,” he lamented. “And they’re the only things that seem to generate any kind of excitement amongst a fan base or even like for the studio making them. That’s what they’re excited about.”
So his actual frustration isn’t so much with the actors starring in these films, or even their existence, but rather his perception that “they are the entire representation of this era of movies right now.”
“There’s not really much room for anything else,” Tarantino argued. “That’s my problem. It’s a problem of representation.”
After his comments went viral, Liu tweeted, “If the only gatekeepers to movie stardom came from Tarantino and [Martin] Scorsese, I would never have had the opportunity to lead a $400 million plus movie.”
Scorsese had previously commented that MCU films are “not cinema,” saying they compare more closely to Six Flags or Disney World.
“The closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks,” the director told Empire in 2019. “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”
In his tweet response, Liu went on to praise both directors, calling them “transcendent auteurs” before emphasizing, “They don’t get to point their nose at me or anyone.”
“No movie studio is or ever will be perfect,” Liu continued. “But I’m proud to work with one that has made sustained efforts to improve diversity onscreen by creating heroes that empower and inspire people of all communities everywhere.
“I loved the ‘Golden Age’ too.. but it was white as hell.”
It’s worth noting that Marvel came under a lot of fire for its first decade of films being dominated by white male leads. It wasn’t until “Black Panther” that a person of color finally got a lead role, and it wasn’t until “Captain Marvel” that a woman had the lead.
In more recent years, the studio has made a concerted effort to emphasize greater diversity both in casting and storytelling with projects ranging from those aforementioned silver screen exploits and “Ms. Marvel,” “Moon Knight” and “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law” on the small screen.