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Kumail Nanjiani defends Tarantino’s and Scorsese’s right to criticize Marvel

"If Scorsese hasn’t earned the right to have an opinion on movies, then none of us should have an opinion on movies," Nanjiani said.
Kumail Nanjiani speaks onstage at 92NY on Dec. 8, 2022 in New York City.
Kumail Nanjiani speaks at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on Dec. 8.Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images file

Kumail Nanjiani, star of Marvel’s “Eternals,” recently defended directors Martin Scorsese’s and Quentin Tarantino’s right to criticize Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The actor, who played Kingo in the 2021 Marvel film, told Esquire in an interview this week he believes Tarantino and Scorsese’s long-standing contribution to the film industry is enough to justify their right.

“I obviously love the movies Tarantino makes or Scorsese makes, and I may disagree with Scorsese’s opinion on superhero movies, but I mean, who else has earned the right to have an opinion? If Scorsese hasn’t earned the right to have an opinion on movies, then none of us should have an opinion on movies,” Nanjiani said in the interview.

He also said he was puzzled by the controversy around their statements. “It’s so strange that people get upset about it.”

Tarantino went on a podcast in November criticizing the “Marvel-ization of Hollywood,” where he said actors who find fame through superhero roles are not real movie stars.

Marvel actor Simu Liu, known for his starring role in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” called Tarantino out for his comments in now-deleted tweets.

“If the only gatekeepers to movie stardom came from Tarantino and 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.”

He also tweeted that cinema’s “Golden Age” was “white as hell.”

In October 2019, Scorsese criticized the superhero film genre, comparing the movies to theme parks.

“Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks,” he said in an interview with Empire Magazine. “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

After the backlash for his comments, Scorsese published an op-ed in The New York Times where he clarified his stance and said he was not talking about the quality of the films. Instead, he said he worries the “financial dominance” of larger franchises will make it more difficult for smaller films to succeed.