Kevin Smith attended a star-studded screening of his latest film, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, on Monday night in Hollywood sporting a Stan Lee T-shirt.
The writer-director and friend of the late Marvel legend noted Lee "came with us" while he worked on the new installment to the View Askewniverse series, which reunites Smith with Jason Mewes and numerous others who have worked on his projects throughout the decades.
Smith, a well-known comic book fan who's worked on a few film and TV adaptations, was aware of the recent jabs Martin Scorsese threw at Marvel movies — and he took offense, both personally and on behalf of fandom, he told The Hollywood Reporter.
"Martin Scorsese is a genius. But to be fair, my entire film career — even prior to my film career — he's been pretty much saying the same thing about action movies," Smith told THR outside the TCL Chinese Theatre.
Scorsese made headlines a few weeks back when he told Empire that Marvel Studios films are, in his opinion, "not cinema." The Oscar-winning director proceeded to double down on the comment shortly thereafter and said at the BFI London Film Festival, "It's not cinema, it’s something else. We shouldn’t be invaded by it. We need cinemas to step up and show films that are narrative films."
There was immediate backlash, from fans but also actors and filmmakers who have worked on Marvel films.
Smith said Monday that Scorsese "practically invented cinema," so he's earned the right to his opinion, but that there is a realization that has not occurred to the Taxi Driver director.
"For my money, I think Martin Scorsese made the biggest superhero movie ever, which was The Last Temptation of Christ," Smith argued. "Don't get much bigger of a superhero than Jesus. He beats Superman and [Robert] Downey [Jr.] every time, so maybe Martin is bending on that territory."
Continued Smith, "My feeling is, Martin Scorsese never sat in a movie theater with his dad and watched the movies of Steven Spielberg in the early '80s or George Lucas in the late '70s. He didn't feel that sense of magic and wonder."
For many fans, including Smith, comic book-based films are more than the story on the screen; they are a time machine, he said.
"I can still step into one of those comic book movies, divorce myself of the fact that I do this for a living, release, and my dead dad is back for a minute, for two hours," he said. "And it's personal for a lot of the audience. You know, and we're not arguing whether or not it counts as cinema."
Smith reiterated he had no interest in locking horns with Scorsese over the definition of cinema, but he would argue the Goodfellas director seems to have blinders on.
"I guarantee you there's something he enjoyed with his parents, like a musical — I bet you some cats would say, 'A musical is not really cinema,' but Martin Scorsese grew up on musicals, and I bet they mean a lot to him," Smith said. "These [Marvel] movies come from a core. They come from a happy childhood, and they're reflections of a happy childhood. He's not wrong, but at the same time, neither are we for loving those movies. And they are cinema."
Jay and Silent Bob Reboot opens Tuesday.