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Terry Gilliam’s Problem With Marvel Movies: ‘There Are Too Many of Them’ and They Lack ‘Real Tension’

"There is no real threat," Gilliam said about Marvel superhero films. "You just know they’ll win somehow."

Terry Gilliam'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote' photocall, Madrid, Spain - 28 May 2018British film maker Terry Gilliam poses during the photocall of his latest film 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote' at the Dore Cinema in Madrid, Spain, 28 May 2018 (issued on 29 May).

Terry Gilliam


Terry Gilliam has made his hatred of superhero movies quite clear in the past, calling them “bullshit” and telling audiences to “grow up,” but he’s got a particular bone to pick with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The director criticized Marvel films for their ubiquity and lack of tension in a recent interview with RogerEbert.com at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

“On a technical level, these films are brilliant, but I find myself watching them from a distance because there is no real tension,” Gilliam said. “There is no real threat. You just know they’ll win somehow, or they’ll win if the whole civilization doesn’t collapse around them first. It’s kind of like us in real life. The heroes in my films don’t win, they survive.”

Gilliam said Marvel films don’t explore the “tension between reality and fantasy,” which is what he has always prioritized in his own movies.

“There’s always got to be reality in my films,” Gilliam said. “Maybe it’s the only way I can stop myself from going completely mad. It’s the tension between reality and fantasy that is interesting, and that’s why I don’t like all the big Marvel movies. There are too many of them, they are dominating the industry, and everybody just wants to see the next one and go, ‘Well, there’s the Hulk again.’”

So what popular movies does Gilliam actually enjoy? “Get Out.” The filmmaker said Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning horror film impressed him when he saw it and he saluted Peele for making a film so specific about the black experience.

“I like the simpler movies that are about real people and good ideas,” Gilliam said. “What I liked so much about ‘Get Out’ is that you had to have been a black guy to have written and directed it. A white guy could’ve never done it, and I thought that was important. It was so specific to the black experience.”

Gilliam’s latest film, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” is still looking for a U.S. distributor. Head over to RogerEbert.com to read Gilliam’s full interview.

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