Ridley Scott on superhero films: ‘Their scripts are not any f—ing good’

Cartier Glory To The Filmmaker Award ceremony, the 78th annual Venice International Film Festival, in Venice, Italy, 10 September 2021.

I went into Ridley Scott’s Deadline interview knowing that he was going to talk sh-t about superhero movies and I just wanted to find the context so I could write it up and “yas queen” Sir Ridley. However, it turns out that this Deadline piece is amazeballs! Ridley isn’t just talking sh-t about superhero movies, he’s talking sh-t about everything other than his beloved Lady Gaga. Ridley Scott has two awards-bait movies out this fall, House of Gucci and The Last Duel. He worked throughout the pandemic and it just happened that both the films were ready for release. Anyway, Sir Ridley is 83 years old and sharp as a tack! You can enjoy the full Deadline piece here. Some highlights:

He digresses to complain about iPhones: “Today, I think $400 million is still a heckuva lot of money, but when you look at Jeff Bezos, or Apple, these are two and a half trillion dollar companies. So, it’s gone grotesque; it makes no sense whatsoever. They can’t measure their genius by that amount of money. It doesn’t make sense, right? They found a window with a genius item [holds up his cell phone] and I think the f–ker who made this has f–ked up probably this entire millennium new generation. So, with this, you think you’re a f–king genius, right? If I asked a 20-year-old, what’s 12 times 12, they can’t tell me. They have to get onto the f–king calculator mode on this thing. Maybe this is simplistic, but I am very concerned about the next generation.

On accent work: “In The Last Duel, there’s no French accent. That would’ve been a disaster, and yet, it’s all French. Who cares? Like, shut the f-ck up, then you’ll enjoy the movie.

Casting Lady Gaga: “If I’d been doing this 40 years ago, it would’ve been Elizabeth Taylor. Patrizia looked like Liz Taylor, and she was small, and her husband was 6-foot-4. Adam Driver’s 6-foot-f–king-4. It’s almost like Adam is the straight man and Patrizia gets all the laughs, but you need the straight man for the laughs to work, and her evolution is a shock, when she steps across the line, certainly as you get into the end of the first act, and you start to sense that this may be going somewhere I didn’t expect.

He loved working with Gaga: “I mean, I work like a f–king demon, but she and I were really very good for each other because she keeps up. She’s on everything. It became more and more enjoyable because, singers can be a bit fragile. This is a big movie, and some singers have not made that transition. They make it in music, they do it quite well. I’m not going to name singers, but when a singer goes onto film, they can evaporate. Somehow, they haven’t got the presence. Not her. She’s right there, and she knows the camera. She’s used to that, from being a performer on stage…. So, she’s a multitalented, multifaceted producer, really, apart from being a performer. My hat came off to her, because I could see she knows exactly what she’s doing. And I know exactly what I’m doing. It was a very good marriage. She loved the fact we moved like lightning. We did the film in 42 days, and came in $5 million under budget.

He hates most superhero movies: “Almost always, the best films are driven by the characters, and we’ll come to superheroes after this if you want, because I’ll crush it. I’ll f–king crush it. They’re f–king boring as sh-t. Their scripts are not any f–king good. I think I’ve done three great scripted superhero movies. One would be Alien with Sigourney Weaver. One would be f–king Gladiator, and one would be Harrison Ford…[Blade Runner] They’re superhero movies. So, why don’t the superhero movies have better stories? Sorry. I got off the rail, but I mean, c’mon. They’re mostly saved by special effects, and that’s becoming boring for everyone who works with special effects, if you’ve got the money.

[From Deadline]

Alien IS a superhero movie, I’ll buy that. Gladiator is… not really a superhero movie? It’s its own thing, a sand-and-sword epic or whatever. But yes, storytelling is important. And it’s odd to me that the Marvel and DCU stans aren’t pouring scorn onto Ridley Scott right now, like they did when Martin Scorsese criticized superhero movies. Anyway, as it turns out… Ridley Scott is okay. He adores actors, he loves history, he loves his own kids and thinks they’re crazy-talented and he thinks “40 years ago” was the 1960s. I love him.

10th Annual LACMA ART+FILM GALA Presented By Gucci

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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63 Responses to “Ridley Scott on superhero films: ‘Their scripts are not any f—ing good’”

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  1. Amy Bee says:

    I get tired of these directors moaning about superhero movies. Just make good movies and shut up. Didn’t the last duel bomb at the box office?

    • Anony83 says:

      Agreed.

      And did you read the actual plot of the Last Duel? It was a hot mess and a half.

    • LULU wang was robbed says:

      It had the highest age restriction put on it and historical movies always do badly at the box office, it’s a real shame because it’s a gem of a movie. Best one I’ve seen this year, brilliantly written but Disney put barely anything into its promotion since it was a hold over from the Fox acquisition

    • BlueSky says:

      This! I am a Marvel girl and I can tell you those movies have been a great escape for me. No one goes into these movies thinks it’s going to be f@cking “Casablanca” . I’m so sick of this elitist take. He sounds out of touch and mad Just mad and bitter that people aren’t flocking to your movies anymore. “Aliens” is an all time favorite of mine and I enjoyed “Gladiator” Like you said just make good movies and people will show up.

      • Who ARE These People? says:

        What’s more, Casablanca wasn’t meant to be art. They cranked it out in wartime as a potboiler and wrote on the fly. It just happened to have a great writer, an action director and 2 hot stars. And here it is, still a great watch.

      • Eleonora says:

        I loved the Eternals.

        Since we had so many with a white male protoganist, I’m not going to abandon super hero now that there is finally more diversity.

    • Deering24 says:

      I don’t give a damn how powerful these guys’ resumes are—if they are dumb enough to dismiss Black Panther as crap, they have seriously lost touch.

    • Nina says:

      I love it when someone criticizes superhero movies. They have caniballised Hollywood and there’s way way too many of them

      • Ana170 says:

        No they haven’t cannibalized Hollywood. Hollywood has been struggling since 2001. People stopped going to movies after 9/11 and haven’t really returned. In addition, streaming has taken a huge chunk out of the audience. The studios have been relying on franchises, like Fast & Furious, Mission: Impossible, etc. to survive. A few of those franchises are Superhero movies.

        There are maybe 8 movies a year. Half are usually Marvel. Marvel is to the movie business what Michael Jackson was to the music industry the early 80s. They sell enough tickets to keep theaters open, presumably while the studios can regroup. Instead of complaining, the industry should be thanking their lucky stars Marvel showed up when they did.

      • goofpuff says:

        Superhero movies have always existed. Its just under different names and jobs. I feel as if most of the time my only choice is a “super hero movie” or a “patronizing movie”. So many of those ‘art’ movies have become so full of themselves, they’ve lost the plot as well. A good movie is a blend of both and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    • FF says:

      My exact sentiments. Is moaning about the competition the new thing to do when you can’t compete? It’s getting old.

      They should try and understand where their audiences are coming from and not wonder why most people opted not to watch a historical GOT equivalent complete with rape scenes released 7 years too late during a pandemic.

      This is the same attitude highbrowers had with Star Wars which inspired so many directors to pick up a camera at a young age.

      Best of luck with new film. I see Lady Gaga was doing all the promo heavy lifting – so it seems like she and Gucci are the only thing making it relevant. I’ll just wait until these same directors cast comicbook mainstays in their movies to get asses on seats. I’d not be surprised when they’re still throwing shade while doing it.

      Ps- Marvel stans are over this nonsense. These guys are sounding painfully out of touch, rubbing on their fading legendary status.

      • Emma says:

        The Last Duel sounded awful, and, yeah — I do not need to see any more rape scenes, ever. Had enough of that misogynistic crap from self-important old white men.

        House of Gucci sounds like a total camp fest — not expecting anything great from it.

        Blade Runner, of course … so beautiful. (But that script was thanks to Philip K. Dick, not this dude.)

  2. Noki says:

    Ridley Scott is a Hoot!!!

    • minx says:

      I like that he’s peppery.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ minx, me too!! I think he is right in on many fronts. ICG is not going to make the movie great, the script and actors make great movies. I also despise the fact that Hollywood remains steadfast on making a series of the same film over and over. MI 24? Why, because the first one did so well? Get off of the serials and make good movies!! Not that I watch TC movies, as I refuse to watch anything he is in.

  3. Sierra says:

    This coming from the man who directed Prometheus…..

    • Deering24 says:

      Ugh. Scott and his crew were so hopeless at coming up with the “super-cosmic” answers they hyped that they succeeded in making a mess of the whole Alien mythology. And did every other character in this have to be bone-stupid?

    • GRUEY says:

      Lol this!!! Prometheus. I have a love hate relationship with that movie and Covenant because they are almost good and they are beautiful. But just…so dumb.

      But, I do kinda agree with him about Marvel. For every good one (black panther) there are 10 that are just too stupid to be watchable and I include avengers in that, sorry not sorreeeee.

      • Thirtynine says:

        Yeah, I love Prometheus. It really is awful, but there are just some scenes I could tune in for again and again. Fassbender is so compelling. And I loved Aliens and Bladerunner too. But I agree, not so much with Marvel movies in particular, but so many blockbuster type movies have dreadful scripts. Titanic comes to mind.

      • Thirtynine says:

        Yeah, I love Prometheus. It really is awful, but there are just some scenes I could tune in for again and again. Fassbender is so compelling. And I loved Alien and Bladerunner too. But I agree, not so much with Marvel movies in particular, but so many blockbuster type movies have dreadful scripts. Titanic comes to mind.

    • Eve says:

      @Sierra:

      …and Alien: Covenant.

      You think Prometheus has a confusing “plot” (if you call that a plot)? I dare you watch Alien: Covenant.

      🙄

    • The Recluse says:

      I had such hopes after Prometheus. I thought we were about to get to explore a whole new universe and story line about the origins of the human species and the nature of life, but then they made Covenant, which was more of the exact same monster movie stuff, plot and all from the previous Alien sequels. I hated it.
      When Scott’s writers can come up with something truly mind blowing in that regard I will listen to his complaints. There have been some truly great Marvel movies: Black Panther, The Winter Soldier, and the fun ones like the Antman movies.

  4. Deering24 says:

    “ If I asked a 20-year-old, what’s 12 times 12, they can’t tell me. They have to get onto the f–king calculator mode on this thing.”

    Hell, I’m hardly a millennial, but the calculator was one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread when I was a teen. Folks were doing this same whine when the first handheld calcs. came out—but trust me, few in my generation knew any equations outside of 12×12 right off the bat.

  5. Anony83 says:

    I’m sorry, but I read the plot synopsis of the Last Duel and anyone who thought that movie was a great idea doesn’t get to tell me what I find entertaining.

    I don’t get why people can’t treat movies like anything else. If you don’t like them, don’t see them, and let people who do like them pay their money to support the studios that fund your weird medieval “Me Too” story.

    • LULU wang was robbed says:

      Did you actually watch it though? Or read the book it was based on?
      I’m guessing no, because you wouldn’t be writing it off like this if you had

      • Coco says:

        Just because you like the movie doesn’t mean others have to.

        As for your comment above about (historical movies always do badly at the box office) if that was fact then the studio wouldn’t have sent 100 million to make the this movie if they know that they weren’t going to make any money back on it, the budget would have been a lot smaller.

      • Emma says:

        I don’t have the time to watch a long dreary movie or read a dreary book just to see if I’m qualified to write a comment online about it.

        Take this for what it’s worth, but I see who’s in it and I read the plot and I read 1-2 reviews from trusted sites and I make a solid decision for my time and money.

        I’m not tuning in to see a woman get brutalized and raped onscreen. No, thanks, because there’s no way that’s enriching my life.

    • Marietta2381 says:

      The movie actually was very well done. I loved Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck, and Adam Driver in it. Matt Damon was eh.
      And to your comment about it being a ” weird medieval ‘Me Too’ story?” That it was not. It’s a True Story based off of something that happened all time in the 1300s but no one talked about. I personally would rather see a True Story than some lame super hero movie, but I know I’m in the minority. He’s also not telling you what is entertaining, it is purely his opinion. Or is he not allowed to give his opinion? Just as you gave yours.

  6. minx says:

    Not a fan of the superhero genre either, their story arcs all seem the same.

  7. TIFFANY says:

    Had dude looked at his own resume lately?

    There is a difference between filtering and lack thereof and being a douchebag because you are a entitled white man.

    And yeah, that is why Aliens is the greatest of all time because Cameron got the memo.

    • SKF says:

      Aliens was a fun romp. Alien was brilliant. One of the best movies ever. It’s a cerebral thriller and a sci-fi flick and a monster movie / horror film all rolled into one. The actors looked and sounded like real people. The tension was sky high. Honestly, they are not even on the same plane of existence. Aliens was just really fun. Alien changed film.

      I love comic book movies, I really do; but I also want to see cerebral films and they are at risk of dying out if people don’t go and see anything but comic book movies. It’s a worry.

      • goofpuff says:

        I want to see cerebral films too, but they have gotten too cliche. Always lots of talking, no real character development beyond being excessively whining, or too much violence especially against women or why is the main character generally a white one (if its not a film from another country). Sometimes I get a really good one, but is alot of sifting through.

  8. ABritGuest says:

    Aren’t these prestige directors tired of this? If super hero movies aren’t for you just move along.

  9. Tinuvielle says:

    Some superheros movie are terrible, sure…
    But… Scott made the awful Prometheus (where all the caractères were so freaking stupid..), the misogynistic The Last Duel.

    And Scott just like to throw dirt at everyone. When Blade Runner 2049 got out, he just complained that the movie was too long and all the good bits were his ideas. (And Scott is the dude that keep changing is mind about Decker being a man or a Replicant). Denis Villeneuve did a marvellous job with Blade Runner 2049 and he is quite a better story teller than Scott ever was.

  10. Mike says:

    He is a great director but not all of his takes should be considered gold. He did cast a movie set in Africa with all white characters except the thieves and servants and said it was because he could not get financing for a movie starring black people in Ancient Africa. So I just consider him an old man with outdated views about some stuff

  11. Erin says:

    Always find it refreshing when a director brings it in an interview. Don’t really understand why so many people feel the need to defend superhero movies so much. It’s okay to like dumb loud stuff as long as you don’t assign it undue importance. Superhero movies are not meant to take up valuable space in your brain. I have a soft spot for Ridley because I have a soft spot for people that can talk big studios out of lots of money for weird projects without a clearly defined audience. You know, tell the story you want instead of what the audience expects.

    • Becks1 says:

      It kind of makes me laugh bc I saw the headline to this post and I knew what the responses would be, lol.

      Superhero movies can be really bad. some are good, some are great, but a lot are really really bad, even the ones that are praised to the heavens or make a ton of money at the box office. It’s okay if you enjoy them. It’s okay if you even think Aquaman is a great movie (I couldn’t get past the first 15 minutes lol so maybe I’m missing something.) People can like what they like. Ridley is clearly not a MCU fan, some people aren’t ridley scott fans.

      it is what it is.

    • A.Key says:

      I honestly don’t understand why people watch superhero movies! I tried several different ones and failed to stay awake every single time. They’re so bad. If you strip away the cool technology put into making them, there’s nothing to watch.

  12. StellainNH says:

    If a movie entertains, whether it has an awesome script, great cinematography, or special effects, then it is successful.

    I don’t watch movies because they are considered “Oscar worthy”. I watch them to be entertained for that period of time.

  13. ThatsNotOkay says:

    Has he SEEN House of Gucci? Because…

    It’s literally lost the plot. Everyone is acting in different movies. Jared Leto is a parody of a person—like how an extra terrestrial would imitate an Italian person after having spent three days in Italy a century ago. Pacino is doing his own thing but when the two interact, it’s like you fear you’ve had a mental break because you’re watching a split screen of two separate flicks.

    Adam Driver is understated and barely a presence—everyone acts AT him. And Lady Gaga brings a lot of fire and energy to the role. Yet not a single male costar gives back what she’s giving them to react to. It’s a shame, because I would have liked to have seen whatever film Lady Gaga was acting in.

  14. Case says:

    I think at the heart of it, my issue with these directors criticizing superhero films is that it’s downright rude to your peers. If you don’t like them or don’t get the hype, that’s fine. We all have different movie preferences. But by speaking in this way you are insulting colleagues in your field — directors, writers, and perhaps actors that are in your films. Can you imagine if a literary fiction author said “Thriller novels are stupid. The plots are dumb and they’re so boring.” Wow, how disrespectful!

    Personally, the only Ridley Scott film I love is Alien. I find a lot of his other films, personally, to be overrated. I largely don’t jive with his style. But even so, I’d never say I don’t understand why he’s a popular filmmaker — he has some classics that have made an imprint on film as a whole, and that’s notable.

    • Kristen says:

      I agree. He could simply say, “Superhero films aren’t for me,” and that would be a totally fine way of indicating his preferences without insulting others.

  15. Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

    He loses some credibility because none of those three films are superhero movies. Just because a film has a strong protagonist doesn’t make it a “superhero” movie.

    It’s a wide genre with some common elements, just like those epics that Ridley Scott loves. I’m also maybe a bit surprised at his criticism, because he has done films that are rich in mythology, and superheroes are a form of modern mythology.

    Complaining about popular films lacking artistry is basically yelling at kids to get off your lawn.

  16. Esma says:

    Eh… superhero movies do tend to have script issues. But give me a break about kids these days don’t know math bla bla bla. Yeah but they know a ton more about other things that your generation have no info on Ridley… Social issues, psychology, cultural nuances etc. So what if they use a calculator more? Get off your high horse.

  17. RavenA206 says:

    The issue I have with these crusty dried pieces of milqetoast always going after ‘supero movies’ is because it is always someone who has never had a single BIPOC-led movie or even a prominent role in their also over-budgeted nonsense movies. There is an easier way to say “we only want movies to be for and about white men” because this crap is getting boring and repetitive.

  18. Ann says:

    Scott has a massive ego and is proudly trolling people, but idk, I think it’s fun to read? He’s just a crusty old blowhard. I happen to LOVE “Gladiator,” so I’m glad he made it. As for super hero movies, he has a point. It’s not that they’re not good or don’t fill an important niche in the industry, it’s that there are SO damned many of them. They are bound to get repetitive.

    That said, if someone went off on his movies like this and did it in an entertaining way, he’d deserve it.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Ann, I agree. Now that I look at your take to his comments, you are right. Though I still loathe the fact that Hollywood relies too heavily on serials. Great, you made one excellent film, no need to create 15 serials to go with it! Bring more ideas and scripts and don’t jump on every serial movie out there.

  19. Rice says:

    Oh Ridley, this is why movies are classed according to genres. It’s cool that you ignored your stuff like Prometheus, but, sometimes, most folks want to watch a movie where they can escape into ridiculous special effects, laugh-out-loud humour and fight scenes. If one doesn’t like a certain movie genre, then don’t watch it, or get high before you watch. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

  20. Wilma says:

    Lots of Ridley Scott movies have script issues and had them during filming. No-one knew how Gladiator was going to end while filming until the very last moment. Also his movies don’t have arcs that are that different from superhero movies. I don’t mind directors criticizing other movies, but they always assume that their own work is tha best ever and treat other genres as monoliths whereas there usually is a lot of variety within a genre.

  21. Zut Alors says:

    Sir Ridley, Gods of Egypt would like a word.

  22. LightPurple says:

    This from the man who directed The Martian, which references Lord of the Rings (not a superhero movie but yes, sort of) and Iron Man and starring: Matt Damon (Thor: Ragnorak & Thor: Love & Thunder); Jessica Chastain (X-Men: Dark Phoenix); Michael Pena (Ant-Man movies); Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier); Kate Mara (Iron Man and Fantastic Four); Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dr Strange); Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange); Donald Glover (SpiderMan).

    • Becks1 says:

      I mean……does he say he’s never going to work with someone who was in a super hero movie? Or that he thinks they must be bad actors to take the roles? it may be that he really likes and respects those actors and that he thinks the superhero movies don’t do justice to them.

      • FF says:

        In all likelihood he will and when he does his project will benefit from those stars cache from those same superhero movies he’s deriding. It goes back to what Case said it’s just rude. And mainly he’s denigrating his your peers and their work just because he thinks his s*** doesn’t smell, when his films have had plenty of writing issues. It’s throwing stones from a glass house. The snobbery on these – largely – white but pretty much old guys is getting overbearing. I think they’re not getting enough oxygen resting up high on their laurels.

        Plenty of people think he was past his peak a while ago but we can all manage to stay respectful.

  23. Ameerah says:

    Im so over these directors whining about Marvel. Like, just do what YOU do and shut up about it. They come off as whiny and elitist. And considering some of the absolute TRASH (Exodus: Gods and Kings, anyone?) Riley has directed he is one to talk.

  24. Chimney says:

    Loving that these crusty old directors are trashing Marvel bc I hate their stuff too but it’s really on the journalistsfor asking click bait questions. Like people could have just assumed Jane Campion hates all loud bad movies so why ask?

  25. MelOn says:

    Marvel movies have a story line, I like a lot of them but not all of them. DC movies are not very well planned out so they’re not as good. Gladiator is what they call a sword and sand movie, I didn’t like it and Blade Runner is sci-fi. Really?

  26. Illum says:

    I love Ridley Scott as a public person but all his movies leave you with a crummy aftertaste. They are quite superficial, designed to titillate in some way, except for Gladiator and maybe The Martian (Mindy Park was meant to be of South Korean descent as Andy Weir clarified) . Even Bladerunner was so overrated! Alien movies, including Prometheus and Covenant, were nasty, except when James Cameron brought some heart into them with his one movie. House of Gucci goes like, “Wow, look at Gaga Acting with a capital A in outrageous clothing and an Italian accent!” He used to do adverts before he started in film and I think his instinct is to ensure commercial success.

  27. DeluxeDuckling says:

    Superhero movies stink – I’m so sick of them. I have a partner who feels the need to watch every new marvel and DC property and feels hurt if I ‘dont want to hang out’. I’ve seen so much of this drivel, mind numbingly dumb genre

    • Illum says:

      Agreed. Stopped watching them years back. Did see Infinity War and Endgame though. Most films and streaming shows aren’t worth wasting your time on, to be honest. I’m really selective about what I watch these days and will see maybe 5 or 10 movies a year (no series), including at home streaming, when I used to watch at least 100 a year. It’s all about awakening your reptilian brain to keep your eyeballs glued. Books are better for your brain and emotional state. All that goes right into your subconscious brain and who knows what it’s doing to you, really. I will watch Dune this year and that’s probably it. I don’t even watch arthouse films as they offer the same “bleak energy.”

  28. A.Key says:

    I agree with him. Doesn’t mean his entire filmography is perfect but he is right that superhero movies lack decent scripts. They’re all about special effects and lame jokes. I watched the Matrix and Gladiator recently and was shocked how much thought was obviously put into the dialogue and storytelling in those two movies, and how much scripts have degraded in the past 20 years…. Movies are all about computer effects these days and it’s so sad.

    • Illum says:

      “how much scripts have degraded in the past 20 years”
      - Too much content competing for your attention. It used to be quality over quantity…

  29. Div says:

    I mean, he absolutely is funny.

    I feel like multiple things can be true. Superhero movies do have a major problem with being formulaic, and fans being super defensive over it need to chill (and I say this as someone who likes Marvel movies). I can understand why directors get frustrated that studios are basically only willing to spend money on super hero movies and remakes nowadays along with some family films. My guess is that for a lot of directors, it’ s better to make a flop than a formulaic by the numbers film. I really doubt Scorsese, Ridley, Jane Campion, and all the other people complaining about comic book movies are just being snobby.

    At the same time, it’s a bit rich of Ridley to say this as his own scripts have been the issue as of late. Gucci is getting mixed reviews (although it looks like it will stay fresh on rotten tomatoes)…and the major criticism is the script/editing (not the accents). He’s also made Gods of Egypt and other films that had script problems.