David Cronenberg clarifies his anti-Dark Knight Rises rant

Back in August of last year, filmmaker David Cronenberg (The Fly, Cosmopolis) caused some upset among comic book movie fans when he spoke of his dislike for the genre, stating that it’s “for kids” and “people who are saying The Dark Knight Rises is supreme cinema art, I don’t think they know what the f**k they’re talking about.” Naturally these comments didn’t go down too well online, but now it transpires that Cronenberg wasn’t aiming his comments at The Dark Knight Rises as such, but rather any movie that’s based upon a comic book (barring A History of Violence, presumably).

“No, I haven’t seen [The Dark Knight Rises],” Cronenberg told The Playlist, when asked what it was that prompted his anti-superhero rant. “See, this is how it all gets distorted. The question was asked, to me. And, of course, when they quote me, they never quote themselves or the question that provoked the response. “I was asked, then the journalist woman said, ‘By the way, superhero comic book movies have shown to rise to the highest level of cinematic art – would you be interested in doing one?’ And I said, ‘Wait, who said they have risen to the highest level of cinematic art?’ That’s when I started my little rant. I was really responding to that. She proposed that about the new Batman movies. I had seen the one before this [The Dark Knight], not the new one, and I think at that time only journalists had seen it. So I wasn’t talking specifically about that movie and I wasn’t criticizing it directly.”

Cronenberg then went on to enlighten us about why superhero movies are so childish: “What I was saying was that a comic book movie is really a comic book movie. Comic books were — especially those comic books which I was raised on (I loved Captain Marvel) — created for adolescents and they have a core that is adolescent. To me, that limits the discourse of your movie if you’re basing it accurately on that, and you cannot rise to the highest level of cinematic art. That’s my take on it. I went on to say that, of course, technically they can be incredibly interesting, since there are very clever people making the movie and of course have a lot of money they are throwing at it. But creatively, artistically, they are incredibly limited. It got bent out of shape that I was dissing Christopher Nolan, which just wasn’t the case.”

Do you agree with Cronenberg’s assessment of the comic book movie genre? Or is this just the inane ramblings of an out-of-touch director who freely admits he hasn’t even seen one of the main films he’s condemning as adolescent, but will freely discuss it every time Cosmopolis is due for release?

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