In the latest installment of the never-ending “Are Marvel Movies Cinema?” debate — brought to you by Martin Scorsese, celebrity interviews and film Twitter — Samuel L. Jackson has challenged Quentin Tarantino‘s assessment that Marvel actors are “not movie stars.”
On Tuesday’s episode of “The View,” Jackson waded into the capital-D Discourse surrounding “the Marvelization of Hollywood” — as Tarantino put it while appearing on the “2 Bears, 1 Cave” podcast last week. It’s worth noting that the supporting-actor Oscar nominee has starred in several Marvel movies as Avengers recruiter Nick Fury, as well as various Tarantino films, including “Pulp Fiction” and “The Hateful Eight.”
“It takes an actor to be those particular [Marvel] characters,” Jackson told the panelists on “The View.” “And the sign of a movie star has always been what? A— in seats? What are we talking about?”
Jackson’s remarks came about a week after Tarantino argued on “2 Bears, 1 Cave” that Marvel actors aren’t so much movie stars in their own right as they are vessels for their more famous characters. In the filmmaker’s view, it’s the ultra-popular source material — not the names on the poster — that draws Marvel fans to theaters.
“Part of the Marvelization of Hollywood is … you have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters,” Tarantino said.
“But they’re not movie stars. … Captain America is the star. Or Thor is the star. I’m not the first person to say that. I think that’s been said a zillion times … It’s these franchise characters that become a star.”
Longtime friend and collaborator Jackson emphatically disagreed.
“It’s not a big controversy for me to know that … these actors are movie stars,” Jackson continued on “The View.” “Chadwick Boseman is Black Panther — you can’t refute that. And he’s a movie star.”
Tarantino’s divisive Marvel comments made the rounds earlier this month on social media, and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star Simu Liu was among the first to respond. (Liu is the first actor of Asian descent to headline a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)
“If the only gatekeepers to movie stardom came from Tarantino and [Martin] Scorsese, I would never have had the opportunity to lead a $400 million plus movie,” Liu tweeted. “I am in awe of their filmmaking genius. They are transcendent auteurs. But they don’t get to point their nose at me or anyone.
“No movie studio is or ever will be perfect. But I’m proud to work with one that has made sustained efforts to improve diversity onscreen by creating heroes that empower and inspire people of all communities everywhere. I loved the ‘Golden Age’ too.. but it was white as hell.”
For what it’s worth, Tarantino clarified during the “2 Bears, 1 Cave” interview that — as a former avid comic-book collector — he doesn’t “hate” Marvel movies. But he doesn’t “love them” either.
“My only ax to grind against them is they’re the only things that seem to be made,” he said. “And they’re the only things that seem to generate any kind of excitement amongst a fan base or even for the studio making them. … There’s not really much room for anything else. That’s my problem.”