Everyone loves a good franchise film, but directors like winning Oscars even more, to be honest. Franchises have been a part of culture, since the Universal monster movies and the “Road to…” movies that starred Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. The films have started with one film and, spending on that particular film’s success, it would include a plethora of other films and, thus, the franchise was born.
Marvel hopped on the bandwagon with a litany of their own franchise films like Spider-Man, Iron Man, and The Avengers. Many directors, like Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, and Jane Campion, have denounced these types of films and have called them less-than-cinema or worse.
I don’t agree with that sentiment, but I have noticed an unusual pattern of Oscar-winning directors not achieving the same level of success that non-Oscar winning directors have achieved. If you don’t believe me, I will gladly prove it in the content and art of this article.
Marvel’s Acclaimed Director Problem
Marvel has been known for cranking out some bangers and winners when it comes to what critics really want from these films. Most of the films in Marvel, specifically the MCU, have garnered a positive reception and have been well-received by audiences.
However, I have noticed that the movie Eternals took a sharp nosedive with the critics with only a 47% approval rating to show for its valiant efforts. Here’s the funny part. It was written and directed by Chloe Zhao, who received an Oscar for the film Nomadland. It seems pretty odd that an Oscar-winning director would have a problem helming a Marvel franchise film.
It doesn’t stop there with Marvel. Taika Waititi helmed the third Thor film and it opened to mostly positive reviews from critics with praise towards his direction. Two years later, the director wrote and directed Jojo Rabbit and received an Oscar for his screenplay. Earlier in the year, he came out with the next Thor film Love & Thunder, and critics did not like it as much as Ragnarok. It was criticized for its script and poorly-timed jokes. If you think that that is a coincidence, I will move on to exhibit B.
Indiana Jones and Beyond
Everyone knows about Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Indiana Jones franchise, which began in 1981 and was helmed by Steven Spielberg. The first three films have received positive reviews. In 1993, director Spielberg released the film Schindler’s List and received two Oscars for his work. Five years later, he got another Oscar for his film Saving Private Ryan. A decade later, he made the fourth entry in the Indiana Jones franchise The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which fans absolutely detested.
It failed to embody the same spirit that the first three films had. That might have been due to the script or Shia Labeouf, but it still seems strange that Speilberg wasn’t able to pull off the same charm with the fourth installment after winning his Oscars.
Moreover, Jurassic Park, which is also a franchise, was first released in 1993 before Spielberg got his Oscars for Schindler’s List and when he directed the sequel in 1997, the film opened to mixed reviews. Is that by accident?
It seems that directors can work a franchise perfectly, until they win an Oscar. It just seems oddly strange that that occurs. Hopefully, someone will break the cycle.