Last summer, David Cronenberg caused a bit of an uproar among fanboy circles when it was reported that he said Christopher Nolan‘s best film was “Memento,” and by comparison, his Batman films were “boring.” Of course, this caused quite the heated reaction on the interwebs, but with his own “Cosmopolis” hitting home video his week, we got a chance to sit down with Cronenberg, and we couldn’t help but ask him about that minor controversy. And while he chalks up some of it to his words being taken out of context, he’s still not convinced of the potential of the comic book movie genre.
“No, I haven’t seen [‘The Dark Knight Rises‘]. See, this is how it all gets distorted. The question was asked, to me. And, of course, when they quote me, they never quote themselves or the question that provoked the response,” Cronenberg explained. “I was asked, then the journalist woman said, ‘By the way, superhero comic book movies have shown to rise to the highest level of cinematic art – would you be interested in doing one?’ And I said, ‘Wait, who said they have risen to the highest level of cinematic art?’ That’s when I started my little rant. I was really responding to that. She proposed that about the new Batman movies. I had seen the one before this [‘The Dark Knight‘], not the new one, and I think at that time only journalists had seen it. So I wasn’t talking specifically about that movie and I wasn’t criticizing it directly.”
It should be noted that Cronenberg’s comments came a few weeks after ‘Rises’ hit theaters, but that’s also besides the point. However, what he does want to make clear is that his feelings were more directed at the genre as a whole, and not Nolan specifically. “What I was saying was that a comic book movie is really a comic book movie. Comic books were — especially those comic books which I was raised on (I loved Captain Marvel) — created for adolescents and they have a core that is adolescent,” he elaborated. “To me, that limits the discourse of your movie if you’re basing it accurately on that, and you cannot rise to the highest level of cinematic art. That’s my take on it. I went on to say that, of course, technically they can be incredibly interesting, since there are very clever people making the movie and of course have a lot of money they are throwing at it. But creatively, artistically, they are incredibly limited. It got bent out of shape that I was dissing Christopher Nolan, which just wasn’t the case.”
Certainly, with Nolan’s ‘Rises’ proving to be an ambitious capper to his groundbreaking trilogy and with “The Avengers” becoming a global blockbuster and one of the biggest movies of all time, there are many who will dispute Cronenberg’s assertions. What are your thoughts? Can comic book movies also double as cinematic art? Weigh in below and stayed tuned for more from our chat with Cronenberg tomorrow.