The controversies that the influential filmmaker Martin Scorsese faces alongside his acclaim

Martin Scorsese is undeniably a monument of film history, but the director and producer is no stranger to backlash. Here are five controversies that are also part of his remarkable legacy.

  1. Glorifying violence: Scorsese developed his trademark themes - including macho attitudes, bloody violence, and Catholic guilt - early on in his career. Notably, his film "Taxi Driver" (1976) made the Palme d'Or-winning masterpiece controversial due to its graphic violence and the 12-year-old Jodie Foster's role as a child prostitute.
  2. The Last Temptation of Christ was deemed 'blasphemous': Before discovering his passion for cinema, Scorsese planned to become a priest and identified as a Catholic. He has explored questions of faith in many of his films, but "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988) enraged conservative Catholics as it includes a hallucinatory sequence of Jesus having sex with Mary Magdalene.
  3. Marvel Cinematic Universe: In a 2019 interview with Empire magazine, Scorsese stated that he didn't consider Marvel superhero movies to be cinema. He likened them to "theme parks" and argued that they lacked the emotional and psychological depth he associates with true cinema.
  4. Expensive partnership with Netflix: Despite his claim that streaming services were "devaluing" cinema by reducing films to "content," Scorsese teamed up with Netflix for the "The Irishman" (2019), his film starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. The filmmaker explained that no one else in Hollywood was ready to pay for the production, which featured pioneering - and expensive - "de-aging" technology.
  5. Lack of strong female characters: This debate has been accompanying Scorsese throughout his career, but it was reignited following the release of "The Irishman," where female characters had just a few words in the three-and-a-half-hour-long movie. Nevertheless, a deeper dive into his filmography shows that the influential filmmaker has also directed works with strong female leads.