ethan hawke

Ethan Hawke Thinks Superhero Movies are Overrated, But Are They Though?

Grab some oven mitts, these takes are piping hot!

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In an interview with The Film Stage, actor and 90’s alt boyfriend Ethan Hawke discussed his feelings on the popularity of superhero movies. Hawke, who has been working steadily for over 30 years, was recently given the Lifetime Achievement award at the Locarno Film Festival. In the interview, he discusses the changing landscape of the film industry, from the indie heyday of the 90’s to the conglomerate-run studio films of today.

Now we have the problem that they tell us Logan is a great movie. Well, it’s a great superhero movie. It still involves people in tights with metal coming out of their hands. It’s not Bresson. It’s not Bergman. But they talk about it like it is. I went to see Logan cause everyone was like, “This is a great movie” and I was like, “Really? No, this is a fine superhero movie.” There’s a difference but big business doesn’t think there’s a difference. Big business wants you to think that this is a great film because they wanna make money off of it.

The response on Twitter was thoughtful, measured and articulate. JUST KIDDING. Fans came out of the woodwork to call out Hawke for his comments, trashing his career and basically going full troll, as trolls are wont to do. And yes, there’s plenty to argue here. Hawke cites Logan as an example, which has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for an Academy Award. But comparing films like Logan or Black Panther to the work of Bresson or Bergman is an exercise in futility.

For that matter, comparing any big budget studio film to the canonical works of auteurs seems like an argument made in bad faith. Ultimately, this is an argument between art and entertainment. Film is an art form, but it is also a business. And while we may disagree with Hawke’s assessment (and his trashing of Logan in particular) his comments bring up two salient points: the shrinking slate of mid-range films and the changing landscape of the studio system.

Hawke built his career on the kind of mid-range movies that studios are no longer making. Romantic dramedies like Reality Bites and cerebral sci-fi fare like Gattaca are not a prevalent as they once were. And with the increasing consolidation of studios, more money is spent on tentpole films like comic book movies and other big budget franchises than on courtroom dramas or family comedies or coming of age stories.

Ultimately, the entertainment industry is shifting. Television has become the new home for nuanced, character-driven fare, while studios are more focused on brand-name, spectacle-driven entertainment. Is this a bad thing? It depends entirely on your taste and preferences.

Do you agree with Hawke’s assessment of comic book movies? Let us know in the comments,

(via Film Stage, image: Marin Mikelin/Getty Images)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.