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Francis Ford Coppola Clarifies ‘Despicable’ Marvel Quote, Says Films Lack Risk

Coppola's appearance at the Lumière Festival went viral after he was quoted calling Marvel movies "despicable," but he says that wasn't an accurate translation.

Francis Ford CoppolaDorothy Arzner building dedication ceremony, Los Angeles, USA - 01 Mar 2018

Francis Ford Coppola

Rob Latour/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Francis Ford Coppola dominated headlines earlier this month when he was quoted out of the Lumière Festival in Lyon, France as calling Marvel movies “despicable.” Coppola was responding to a question about whether or not he agreed with Martin Scorsese, who criticized Marvel films for turning cinema into a theme park. In a new interview with Deadline, Coppola says his “despicable” quote was not translated correctly. The director clarified the word “despicable” was not being used directly for Marvel films but for the overall film industry’s general push into making commerce films over art.

Deadline includes Coppola’s actual statement made in France, which reads, “Well you know because of the lack of risk in the production. Marty Scorsese says that the Marvel picture is not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. Arguably, I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again, which is the Marvel movies. A thing that has no risk to it. I’ve said before, making a film without risk is like making a baby without sex. Part of it is risk, and that’s what make it so interesting, that’s why we learn so much when it’s made.”

Coppola continued, “Also, there is a philosophy that a person of riches can be just or unjust. It’s very important when you talk about it. To gain riches unjustly, just uses up, it doesn’t contribute. Wealth is only what is just, what brings more to the society. Cinema is the same way. Real cinema brings something, a wonderful gift to society. It doesn’t just take money and make people rich. That’s despicable. So Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema, he didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just said it is.”

In his interview with Deadline’s co-editor in chief Mike Fleming Jr., Coppola was asked again to weigh in on his thoughts on superhero cinema. The filmmaker responded, “Personally I don’t like the idea of franchises, the notion that you can keep repeating what is essentially the same movie for financial gain — in other words what is a formulaic approach.” Ironically, Coppola made his own franchise with “The Godfather” trilogy.

“I feel that approach is taken to reduce the economic risk of movies and I feel the ‘risk factor’ is an element that makes movies sometimes be great,” Coppola added. “Also the formulaic film draws most available resources to them, leaving little for more daring productions, reducing diversity.”

Coppola most recently showed off his new cut of “The Cotton Club” at the New York Film Festival. The filmmaker is also still in development on his long-in-the-works passion project “Megalopolis.” Head over to Deadline to read more from Coppola’s latest interview.

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