Disney's Bob Iger on Martin Scorsese Criticism: "I Don't Think He's Ever Seen a Marvel Film"

"I'd like to have a glass of wine with him," he tells BBC Radio, adding that for the 'Star Wars' franchise "less is more." He also discussed buying large parts of Fox, the Murdochs, 'Succession' and Georgia's abortion law.

Walt Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger in a BBC Radio interview commented on Martin Scorsese's criticism of Marvel films, saying he admires the filmmaker but believes he has never seen a Marvel movie. He also said about the Star Wars movie franchise that he feels that "less is more."

"I have said publicly that I think we made and released too many Star Wars films over a short period of time," Iger said, clarifying: “I have not said that they were disappointing in any way." Concluded the Disney boss: "I have not said that I’m disappointed in their performance. I just think that there’s something so special about a Star Wars film, and less is more."

Asked about Scorsese's criticism of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and his comparing them to theme parks, Iger said: "Ouch! I think Martin Scorsese is a great filmmaker. I hope he hears this. I don't have a relationship with him, but it doesn't matter, I admire him immensely. I think he has made some great films. I look back and think of Goodfellas and Raging Bull to name just a few, Taxi Driver. Just a phenomenal filmmaker. And I think I would debate him on this subject. First of all, Marvel is making movies — they are movies, that's what Martin Scorsese makes — and they are good movies: good directors and good writers and good actors and good cinematographers and good costume designers and good sound engineers and good editors. I can go on and on. These are talented, talented people that are putting their hard work and talent into making films that entertain people in theaters around the world.... They have a good two-hour experience. They come out feeling happy or better about themselves."

Added Iger: "I don't think he's ever seen a Marvel film.... Anyone who has seen a Marvel film could not in all truth make that statement." He shared that he has not talked to the director since his comments, but said he was "looking forward to talking to him," adding, "I'd like to have a glass of wine with him. I like Martin Scorsese."

Iger was also asked about some of Disney's past acquisitions. When questioned about the purchase of Lucasfilm and Rupert Murdoch's reaction to it, the Disney boss said: "Well, Fox had distributed all of George [Lucas]’s films, and I don’t think they ever thought about asking whether he would want to sell. I think [Rupert Murdoch] kicked himself, he did, I know he did."

Why did Murdoch end up selling large parts of Fox to Disney? "I think the primary reason is that he looked at what was going on in the world of media and all the disruption, and he didn't believe that the hand that they had was as strong as it needed to be," Iger said. "It is that simple, and he didn't have a solution. And selling was a solution, because he could get, at that time, a good price for it, and doing so pared down the size of the business that he kept...run that in a way that he could manage it, but not be as exposed to a larger business that wasn't large enough to essentially withstand all the disruption."

Asked about reports that then-Fox CEO James Murdoch had been considered for the Disney CEO post, Iger said: "No.... James and I did talk. We have a very nice relationship, and he was quite helpful in the integration process. We talked very early on about whether there was a role or not for him at Disney. And in the end, I couldn't come up with a role that he was particularly interested in, and I didn't have an obligation to provide him with a role, and so quite early on we both concluded that it wasn't going to work out and go our separate ways."

Has he seen Succession? "I have seen a few episodes...I am behind," Iger said. Asked if it rings true with his experience with the Murdoch family, he added: "I think there are things in it that remind me of a certain family that has been involved in the media business, but I think there is a lot of fiction in it as well. There is a lot I don't know."

Iger was also questioned about his comments on Georgia's controversial abortion law and his withdrawal from an advisory council for Donald Trump after the U.S. President decided to leave a Paris climate accord, saying those were decisions he made with Disney's interests in mind. "I happen to believe that the Earth is imperiled, and we as citizens of the world have to do something about it," Iger said. "And thinking about it from a business perspective, you can't run a successful company in a world that is not environmentally healthy. People will not go to theme parks if they can't breathe the air. So I took a position on that with great conviction, because of what it meant for Disney."

On the abortion law, he added: "I didn't say anything about the law itself. I only suggested that if it passed, we would have a very hard time shooting there, because a lot of people involved in our shows would not want to work there. So it was not a Disney position on the law itself."