Jodie Foster Slams Superhero Movies And Blockbusters, James Gunn Thoughtfully Retorts

Ever since X-Men was released back in 2000, there has been a plethora of superhero movies in theaters every single year. Though the early 2000s were full of a lot of garbage thanks to studios snatching up every comic book property they could get their hands on and rushing them into production, the superhero genre has evolved, and we've gotten great superhero movies like The Dark Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and more. However, not everyone agrees with that sentiment.

Actress and filmmaker Jodie Foster has been making the publicity rounds in the wake of the release of the new season of Black Mirror after directing an episode of the sci-fi anthology series, and she didn't have anything kind to say about superhero movies and studio blockbusters in general. In fact, she says it's "ruining the viewing habits of the American population and then ultimately the rest of the world." But James Gunn, director of the superhero blockbuster franchise Guardians of the Galaxy, respectfully disagrees with these Jodie Foster superhero movies comments.

Speaking to Radio Times (via The Telegraph), Foster criticized the current state of studio filmmaking:

"Going to the movies has become like a theme park. Studios making bad content in order to appeal to the masses and shareholders is like fracking — you get the best return right now but you wreck the Earth.

It's ruining the viewing habits of the American population and then ultimately the rest of the world. I don't want to make $200 million movies about superheroes."

Apparently it's gotten so bad that Foster says she sometimes ask herself, "Why didn't I go into law school? Why didn't I pursue the path of academia?" While my initial action is to disagree with Foster for a number of reasons, the point she's making isn't without merit.

Awful blockbuster movies are made all the time, and many times the goal of a studio making movies like that is to distract audiences for a couple hours without stimulating their mind very much. Many blockbusters are forgettable and used to sell products. The only problem is we know that, and Foster's perspective isn't a new one.

Studios have always been criticized for making movies with the aim of only making money. Motion pictures have been bashed since their inception for pandering to the lowest common denominator of entertainment. But that doesn't mean blockbuster movies are inherently meaningless and lack significance. To brush off all blockbusters as nothing more than theme park attractions, whether superhero-based or not, is shortsighted.

A fan brought Jodie Foster's comments to the attention of James Gunn, director of what many consider to be one of the best superhero movies in recently memory, Guardians of the Galaxy. The filmmaker thoughtfully responded in a stream of tweets that we've collected here:

"I think Foster looks at film in an old-fashioned way where spectacle film can't be thought-provoking. It's often true but not always. Her belief system is pretty common and isn't totally without basis. I say not without basis because most studio franchise films are somewhat soulless – and that is a real danger to the future of movies. But there are also quite a few exceptions.

For cinema to survive I believe spectacle films NEED to have a vision and heart they traditionally haven't. And some of us are doing our best to move in that direction. Creating spectacle films that are innovative, humane, and thoughtful is what excites me about this job.

But, to be fair, at least from Foster's quotes, she seems to see filmmaking as something that's primarily about her own personal growth. For me, that may be part of why I do this, but spending many millions of dollars on a film has to be about more than that – it's communication – so my experience is merely one spoke on that wheel. But I respect Foster and her talent and what she's done for films and I appreciate her different way of looking at Hollywood's landscape."

Most Movie Deaths - Guardians of the Galaxy - Chris Pratt

Different Perspectives, Different Movies

For what it's worth, Foster says she would consider directing a superhero movie, but only if the main character had "really complex psychology." Since there are plenty of superheroes who fit that bill hitting theaters every year, it sounds like Foster maybe needs to watch some more of these movies to see that it's not always as simple as good guys versus bad guys, and there are some truly compelling characters in many of these movies.

The takeaway here isn't that Jodie Foster is wrong and James Gunn is right. Instead, both are correct, and that's what makes cinema great. There are audiences who won't be mesmerized or moved by blockbuster movies, no matter how good they may be. But there are also viewers who will have their lives changed by them. I know I can't imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't seen Star Wars or Back to the Future, and more recently, the efforts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have become a large part of what I love about pop culture today.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of movies that don't need big action set pieces, superheroes, explosions and the like in order to be stimulated. Some movies merely provoke our emotions and thoughts, and if those are the kind of movies Jodie Foster prefers, then more power to her. There's an audience for those too.

The important thing is that as long as there are studios and filmmakers making big, loud movies that help sell popcorn, soda and toys, there are also production companies and filmmakers making smaller, insightful stories. But let's not forget that these kinds of movies are not mutually exclusive. Simply because a movie has superheroes doesn't mean it isn't thoughtful, and a movie that doesn't have robots fighting monsters isn't immediately boring. They're just different, and that's perfectly fine.