Scorsese hit the headlines recently when he said that Marvel movies are “not cinema”, likening them instead to “theme parks”.
Specifically referencing recent comments from Francis Ford Coppola (who called Marvel movies “despicable”) while speaking at the Wall Street Journal‘s Tech Live event, Iger said: “When Francis uses the words, ‘those films are despicable’, to whom is he talking?” before namechecking the likes of director Taika Watiti, Black Widow‘s Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr and more.
“Frankly, the motion picture distribution business or the theatrical exhibition business worldwide has relatively thin margins,” Iger continued. “When those theatres run movies, not just like ours because there are other blockbusters out there too, they do exceedingly well for them and they make a lot of money on them.
“That actually gives them the ability to run other films that might not be as successful, but there are people in different places that want to see them.”
Iger added: “We’re in the business of making money; we’re in a profitable business. At the same time at Disney, we’re trying to balance that with telling great stories to the world and infusing them with great values, and supporting an employee base of well over 200,000 around the world with great care and, frankly, respect.”
He went on to call the comments “disrespectful” to those who are working so hard on these movies.
A whole host of big film names have weighed in on the debate that’s been opened by Scorsese’s comments. The likes of Taika Waititi and Spider-Man director James Gunn have defended the franchise, while Robert Downey Jr said he “respects [Scorsese’s] opinion on the topic, and Friends star Jennifer Aniston says she thinks Marvel is “diminishing” the film industry.
Most recently, Iron Man director Jon Favreau backed Scorsese and Coppola’s right to criticise Marvel, saying: “These two guys are my heroes, and they have earned the right to express their opinions.”