Back in 2012, my favourite thing to declare was that I listened to “real” music. I didn’t listen to pop, I didn’t listen to hip-hop or R&B, I listened to “rock and/or roll,” preferably indie and unlabelled, and while looking apathetically at my phone. Understandably, I was also the worst. And I was young and insecure and had bangs and long black hair and hated everything everybody else liked because it was easy.
Most of you probably did the same. One of the great rights of passage as a kid/teen/twenty-something is revelling in angst and judgement while trying to carve out the space you need to grow. Most of us grow out of it. Ethan Hawke hasn’t seemed to.
At least not when it comes to superhero movies. To him, they aren’t “art” the same way Bergman may be. Which, like, oh boy.
“Now we have the problem that they tell us Logan is a great movie,” he told Film Stage. “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 cos 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.”
Here’s the thing. Ethan Hawke is welcome not to like superhero movies. He’s also welcome not to think they’re high art. That’s his call and his opinion. But instead of rallying against filmmakers and the industry as part of some “damn the man” soapbox journey, he’s justifying his own pretentiousness by relaying the myth that if popularity is present, something isn’t important. And that’s inaccurate and unfair. Especially since his opinion comes from his own biases and fails to take into account what movies like Logan might mean to someone who isn’t like him. I mean, imagine claiming that Black Panther wasn’t art? Because the characters wore costumes and there were special effects? Imagine even comparing it to Persona? As if there can only be one genre of “film”? (Also: Titanic also had costumes and special effects. And that movie won Best Picture, so dial it down, guy.) (And lest we forget Gattaca while we’re at it.)
One of the hardest parts about growing up is realizing that you don’t speak for everyone. Or even worse: that not liking a thing that everybody else does makes you interesting. Nobody here needs to like all the movies or see all the films or harbour a desire to revel in hours of Avengers content. But to that same end, nobody gets to discount what superhero movies might mean or what kind of communities they help build or their impact on future filmmakers who’ll go on to create even more art. Just because you may hate Top 40 doesn’t mean everyone going to see Beyonce is wrong or clueless. It might just mean that you don’t want to engage in something. And, well, who cares?
Unless you want to be the old man who yells at clouds. And if you do, I guess you can pull your chair up next to Troy Dyer a.k.a. Ethan Hawke.