Here are some quotes from David Cronenberg’s recent interview with Next Movie.
Would He Do A Superhero Movie?
“I don’t think they are making them an elevated art form. I think it’s still Batman running around in a stupid cape. I just don’t think it’s elevated. Christopher Nolan’s best movie is “Memento,” and that is an interesting movie.”
I would say that’s a no (I wouldn’t do a superhero movie, Responding to question if Cronenberg would do a superhero movie) you know. And the problem is you gotta… as I say, you can do some interesting, maybe unexpected things. And certainly, I’ve made the horror films and people say, “Can you make a horror film also an art film?” And I would say, “Yeah, I think you can.”
But a superhero movie, by definition, you know, it’s comic book. It’s for kids. It’s adolescent in its core.
I think Cronenberg is lacking some credibility here. I agree with him that Memento and Inception even the Prestige are better movies than his three Batman movies. Heath Ledger probably gives the best performance in any of his movies outside of Guy Pearce, but those three stand alone movies I like more than the Batman movies. But calling superhero movies for kids? Saying they’re not art? I have to take issue with that one, if not with the argument, that Cronenberg can’t make it. This is because, lest he forget, A History of Violence was a comic book too. And its protagonist, Tom Stahl, is very much a kind of superheroic character. The same goes for his film Eastern Promises. Not a comic book, but it shares many of the same characteristics as A History of Violence. The principal one being, Viggo Mortensen plays a superheroic character killing bad guys in stylized comic book like violence.
But let’s not focus on the violence, let’s focus on the protagonists of Cronenberg’s films. Take Tom Stahl. Tom Stahl is a mask. It’s a costume for Joey Cusack. This is more or less exactly the argument from the finale of Kill Bill. Tom Stahl/Arlene Plimpton/Clark Kent are the costumes that Joey Cusack/Beatrix Kiddo/Superman wear to blend in with the rest of the world. Only one of these characters wears a cape, but these are all superheroic characters. Calling one a kid’s movie because it has capes comes across as ignorant and pretentious. Call Dark Knight Rises a kid’s movie because it has a PG-13 rating, not because it has capes. Eastern Promises has Viggo doing the same thing. He has a fake identity that he wears as a mask. Nikolai pretends just to be the ignorant driver to cover up the hardened undercover cop that he really is.
I don’t think Cronenberg is attacking comic books as for kids. Anyone who makes that argument needs to check out Watchmen, the Killing Joke, Devil’s Advocate, or the Walking Dead. That argument would be stupid and he isn’t. But I do think he’s showing a little too much pretension coming from a director who is renowned for making art house creature features. The guy who made They Came From Within and The Fly thinks Christopher Nolan is slumming it and not doing real art by having a man dressed as a bat.