Actor Lupita Nyong’o weighs in on furious debate over miracle films and their effect on the quality of the film industry. The star originally started her career behind the camera, working on several productions including The Constant Gardner. Shortly after graduating from Yale, Nyong’o landed her breakthrough role as slave Patsey in Steve McQueen’s epic. 12 years slave, which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She went on to star in popular movies like Queen of Katwe, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakensand Black Panther. Nyong’o returns to the Marvel Cinematic Universe next month in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Since the MCU grew significantly in popularity, The Avengers, members of the film community have debated the art of these huge tent pole films and how they affect the quality of cinema. After the release of the MCU’s highest-grossing entry, Avengers: Endgame, legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese declared that superhero movies were not real cinema, comparing them to amusement park rides. The director later clarified his comments, but the damage was already done as the debate quickly spread through the media.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Nyong’o shares her thoughts on how Marvel’s superhero movies are impacting the industry. She believes that if certain media resonate to a large extent with an audience, those media should be recognized as something important. Read what Nyong’o says below:
“It becomes a philosophical question about what art is and what its purpose is. I believe that art plays a part in moving the people who experience it, and a lot of people are touched by Marvel. Are you touched by this thing, less more important than being moved by Picasso?
“I think being culturally prosperous, being artistically prosperous as a people, is that you have options. In Kenya, sugar was sugar, it was brown or it was white. You come to the [United States], and an entire section in the supermarket is devoted to sugars. So many different sugars. That is a symbol of prosperity, if you have options. So personally, I love a good Marvel movie, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I really want the little character-driven movie. I believe in the struggle to keep those things alive because the one thing we always want, the ultimate privilege, is choice.”
Is the MCU harmful to the movie industry?
Nyong’o recognizes the subjectivity of art and argues that there are positives to be found in having options for moviegoers at the cinema. In the same year that Avengers: Endgame grossed over $2 billion worldwide, released Bong Joon-Ho Parasite, a character-driven thriller about a family of con artists that stunned critics and audiences alike. It proved to be a relative success at the box office and also made history by taking home the Academy Award for Best Picture. In the world of formula superhero film, smaller, original films can also succeed. However, the debate seems to have shifted from a focus on the quality of the films to how massive box-office receipts have affected the types of films released in theaters as studios become more wary of risk-taking.
Scorsese recently made headlines again with his comments, this time criticizing the industry’s obsession with box office numbers. The director claims the issue started in the ’80s and claims that today’s focus on money alone is a disadvantage for Hollywood. With the advent of streaming, movies that might not make big box office numbers are being dumped on streaming services, regardless of their quality. With the way audiences watch movies keep changing, maybe people should check out Nyong’o and embrace the diversity of choice and find what resonates, whether that is miracle spectacle or independent character-driven Korean thrillers.
Next : Marvel’s Phase 5 Slate: Release Date For Every Movie And Show