Is Ethan Hawke’s Attack on Superhero Movies Misguided?

Richard Brody responds to Hawke's recent anti-superhero comments.

ethan hawke
Actor Ethan Hawke attends the "Juliet, Naked" New York premiere at Metrograph on August 14, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

Ethan Hawke recently took on superhero movies, arguing that they are wrongly called great movies and elevated because of the corporate influence of the big studios. The New Yorker’s film critic Richard Brody is interested in Hawke’s assertion, but argues that critics are as involved in the framing of superhero flicks as important works as big business.

As Brody contends, critics are obligated to pay mind to that which is most popular, which can lead to a disintegration of the line between that which is successful, and that which is deserving of praise. Brody writes, “The mere fact of spending large amounts of time pondering these works leads to a critical Stockholm syndrome, a belief that movies in question are of sufficient quality to merit the sustained attention.”

Still, Brody cautions Hawke against the distinction between today’s Hollywood fantasies and the film masters Hawke singles out, particularly Ingmar Bergman and Robert Bresson. Fantasy is the lifeblood of movie history, Brody contends, and cannot be dismissed because of superhero fatigue.

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