"Logan" director James Mangold says tentpole movies are often just two-hour commercials.
The R-rated "Logan," Hugh Jackman's final Wolverine blockbuster, really pushes the emotional boundaries of what a Hollywood superhero movie can be, so it shouldn't be too surprising that its director, James Mangold, isn't a huge fan of cookie-cutter flicks.
Still, his send-up of tentpole movies on a recent episode of the podcast "The Business" is notable because it deftly distills the problem many see with big-budget films these days, especially superhero ones.
"Tentpole movies in general, they are not movies, generally — they are bloated exercises in two-hour trailers for another movie they are going to sell you in two years," Mangold said. "There are so many characters that each character gets an arch of about 6 1/2 minutes at best, and I'm not exaggerating. You take 120 minutes, you take 45 of it for action, what are you left with, divide it by six characters, you have the character arc of Elmer Fudd in a Warner Brothers cartoon. That formula is empty for me."
And Mangold isn't just talking about the studios trying to mimic Marvel's success with lesser material. "If I'm going to insult other movies, I'm going to do it with a big broom," he said. "I'm going to say that this is endemic. I'd say if you're just going to look at Marvel's grosses and somehow make their movies free of this kind of criticism, that's not fair."
He did mention "Guardians of the Galaxy" and the first "Iron Man" as examples of good filmmaking, but he said the collective world of superhero movies was repetitive.
Mangold is certainly in a position to criticize.
"Logan" is remarkable in balancing big-budget action with a human drama that has some critics calling it the best superhero movie ever. It took huge risks and ultimately landed with audiences in a palpable way.