Film director Martin Scorsese has clarified his divisive comments about Marvel films in an opinion piece for The New York Times.

In the piece published on Monday, the Hollywood heavyweight stood by what he said – adding that Marvel films simply weren't to his taste having grown up in a time when cinema was about "complexity and revelation".

Scorsese sparked fierce debate after he remarked in an interview with Empire last month that Marvel films were "more like theme parks than movies", labelling them "not cinema".

The scathing comments sparked outrage among fans, and prompted Hollywood A-listers such as Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Downey Jr. to respond, some backing his claims while others slammed them.


Despite the backlash, multiple award-winning Scorsese – director of countless cinema gems including Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and The Wolf of Wall Street – is defending himself.

"Many franchise films are made by people of considerable talent and artistry," Scorsese wrote.

"You can see it on the screen. The fact that the films themselves don't interest me is a matter of personal taste and temperament."

He went on to say that if he was of a different generation, he might be more excited by these big-budget Blockbusters, but because of the age of cinema he was exposed to growing up, he followed a different creative path when it came to his own filmmaking career.

"I know that if I were younger, if I'd come of age at a later time, I might have been excited by these pictures and maybe even wanted to make one myself. But I grew up when I did and I developed a sense of movies — of what they were and what they could be — that was as far from the Marvel universe as we on Earth are from Alpha Centauri."

He continued: "For me, for the filmmakers I came to love and respect, for my friends who started making movies around the same time that I did, 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."

The director described today's filmmaking as "market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they're ready for consumption," then compared Marvel films to auteur filmmakers of today.

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"Another way of putting it would be that they are everything that the films of Paul Thomas Anderson or Claire Denis or Spike Lee or Ari Aster or Kathryn Bigelow or Wes Anderson are not," he wrote. "When I watch a movie by any of those filmmakers, I know I'm going to see something absolutely new and be taken to unexpected and maybe even unnameable areas of experience. My sense of what is possible in telling stories with moving images and sounds is going to be expanded."

Discussing why he made the comments in the first place, Scorsese wrote that it was in support of non-franchise films, which he says struggle to make their way to theatres when competing with big-budget series' like Marvel.

The director is soon to release The Irishman for Netflix, and while he acknowledged that the streaming service gave him resources no traditional studio would have for that film, he said: "Would I like the picture to play on more big screens for longer periods of time? Of course I would. But no matter whom you make your movie with, the fact is that the screens in most multiplexes are crowded with franchise pictures."

Scorsese's comments last month were backed by directors Coppolla and Ken Loach; Coppolla called the films "despicable" and Loach branded them a "market exercise".

On the other hand, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn said on Instagram that "even some geniuses" can't appreciate Marvel films.

Samuel L. Jackson said in an interview with Variety, "I mean, that's like saying Bugs Bunny ain't funny. Films are films. Everybody doesn't like his stuff, either."

Meanwhile, Robert Downey Jr wasn't insulted by the statements.

"I appreciate his opinion because I think it's like anything," he told Howard Stern. "We need all of the different perspectives so we can come to centre and move on."

Amid his outspoken views on the state of comic book films this year, Scorsese also revealed this week that he was set to be involved with the making of Todd Phillips' Joker, following the origin story of the DC villain, but pulled out.

In a video interview with BBC's Sam Asi, Scorsese said he was on board as a producer for four years before dropping out of the project altogether.

"I thought about it a lot over the last four years and decided I did not have the time for it. It was personal reasons why I didn't get involved. But I know the script very well. It has a real energy and Joaquin. You have remarkable work."

Scorsese's latest film, The Irishman, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, will be available for streaming on Netflix from November 27.