Actor Willem Dafoe’s career has embraced all sides of cinema, from the biggest blockbusters to the smallest, weirdest arthouse movies. So when it comes to the current debate, inspired by director Martin Scorsese, about whether superhero movies count as “cinema,” it’s not surprising Dafoe has an opinion.
Dafoe has appeared in two of the most successful superhero movies of the past two decades–Sam Rami’s 2001 movie Spider-Man, and last year’s DC blockbuster Aquaman. In an interview with 92ndStreetY, Defoe spoke about how superhero movie making has changed over the years–and from his point of view, not for the better.
“Spider-Man was great fun because Sam Raimi made that like it was a little independent film,” he said, via Indiewire. “And also that was before a lot of the technology was in place, and comic book movies were fairly new, so it was exciting. There was nothing by the numbers, they didn’t roll in the experts. Now it’s become, the industry outgrew itself.”
Dafoe admitted that he didn’t want to “bite the hand that feeds me,” but admitted the experience of shooting Aquaman was not the same. “You have fun with some of the things that you get to do, because there’s lots of hardware and there’s lots of crazy crane shots and those kind of things.” he said. “That’s fun. But stuff is overshot. They spend a lot of money on big set pieces, because that’s what delivers the action, and I find them too long and too noisy. Look, those aren’t the movies I run to.”
Dafoe also touched on the issue that Scorsese did, first in an interview with Empire and subsequently in the New York Times, that big budget superhero franchise films are more concerned with making money and repeating a formula than giving the audience anything new or challenging. “What I worry about is, those big movies, they need something to feed them,” he said. “They need a surge, and they need people pushing the boundaries so they can go forward. Because they’re not in the business of going forward, really. They’re in the business of business, and you can make beautiful things because they have a lot of resources.”
Dafoe is just the latest actor or filmmaker involved with comic book movies to be asked about their view on the issue. The likes of James Gunn, Jon Favreau, Natalie Portman, and Samuel L Jackson have all defended Marvel’s output, as have Marvel boss Kevin Feige and Disney CEO Bob Iger. It might have been six weeks since Scorsese made his initial comments, but the controversy doesn’t show any signs of dying down quite yet.
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Author: Dan Auty