As strange as it may sound after years of operating out of the Hollywood spotlight, The Killer and Hard Boiled director John Woo is getting all kinds of attention this week after receiving the Halekulani Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hawaii International Film Festival. But one of Woo’s recent comments that caught my attention the most was when the legendary action movie filmmaker said he has no intention of ever taking the helm of a comic book movie. Marvel, DC, or otherwise.
“I don’t have that gift. I’m not a sci-fi guy – I don’t think I could make a good one. There’s so much imagination… I don’t think I can reach that level.”
Wait, John Woo just said he’s not a sci-fi guy? Checks notes. But he directed the 1997 sci-fi action-thriller Face / Off starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. Does he not consider that supremely silly and stellar motion picture to be science fiction? Because I’m pretty sure that would make him the only one. Shrugs. But maybe it’s all for the best because as good of a science fiction thriller as Face/Off is (style-wise) let us not forget that Woo also helmed the garbage 2003 super science fiction flick Paycheck starring Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman. But I guess the less said about that movie, the better.
More interesting still than all of this is the fact that Woo says the late great Stan Lee actually did approach the Windtalkers and Once a Thief filmmaker to take the reins of a “pre-MCU” Marvel superhero movie. But as history lets us all know, Woo turned it down. I wonder what superhero movie Stan Lee pitched John Woo… the mind boggles.
But none of this really matters much in the long-run as it turns out while Woo “appreciates how [Marvel movies] entertain and make money” he ultimately agrees with the super controversial comments from Martin Scorsese regarding whether or not Marvel movies count as real cinema.
Woo admits this.
“I’m concerned about when these movies get more and more popular, I’m afraid it will make young audiences get lost when it comes to knowledge about film.”
Evidently, Woo then went on to say something about how Marvel movies “have become the standard for younger audiences and that they won’t have the desire to study or watch what Scorsese refers to as ‘real cinema’ such as Lawrence of Arabia, Mean Streets, A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey.” Hurm.
Okay, Woo now you’re getting a little out of line, sir. Remember, for every The Killer you directed there is always a Mission: Impossible 2 that soon followed. But I’m NOT here to talk bad about John Woo. No way. After all, at the end of the day, he is the mastermind behind Hard Boiled and I think if you manage to make a movie like that in your lifetime, you pretty much – like Scorsese – get a pass on being an old grump when it comes to today’s influx of comic book movies. This story comes to us from an interview Woo recently held with Deadline.