December 27, 2019
Hollywood’s monsters were exposed, streaming services embraced auteurs and ‘motion smoothing’ made the movies look like daytime TV
Netflix, Marvel, Brexit – and Weinstein: how this decade radically reshaped cinema’s heroes and villains
The long decade closes with no consensus on what we were supposed to call it (the “teens”?) nor about what ground has been gained or lost in the big cinema debates of the past 10 years. Steven Spielberg warned of a colossal evolutionary crisis in theatrical distribution, whereby the film business becomes over reliant annually on three or four big “tentpole” movies that will then crash, leaving us with the movie equivalent of 2008 or even 1929. And the tentpoles that everyone is betting on are the superhero films, which Spielberg warned will go the way of the western. Well, this hasn’t happened yet.
So a new hero/villain has arisen: Marvel Studios, which has enjoyed a staggering explosion of box-office popularity, blessed by cinema chains for providing surefire hits, but increasingly loathed by cinephiles for dumbing down the movies. Martin Scorsese, in his widely shared New York Times article, expanded his personal view that superhero films are just glorified theme-park rides without the individual artistry and humanity of real cinema.
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