Marvel and Star Wars are 'ruining' the film industry, Moonfall director says

A screenshot of the opening scene in Spider-Man: No Way Home
(Image credit: Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios)

Moonfall director Roland Emmerich has claimed that Marvel and Star Wars are "ruining our industry".

Speaking to Den of Geek ahead of Moonfall's February 4 release, Emmerich suggested that the lack of original movies was the by-product of the MCU's and Star Wars' wild theatrical box office success.

Of the 20 highest grossing movies of all time, two Star Wars movies – The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi – occupy fourth and 15th place respectively. The pair are joined by no fewer than six Marvel films, too, including the second-placed Avengers: Endgame.

Seven more MCU movies are set to arrive as part of Marvel's Phase 4 plans, and the possibility of more Star Wars flicks hasn't been ruled out by Lucasfilm and parent company Disney. It's this constant stream of projects from just two massive franchises, Emmerich claims, that's strangling the movie business – so much so that very few original films are made these days.

"Oh yes," Emmerich replied when asked if disaster movies like Moonfall have had to change tack in recent years. "Naturally, Marvel and DC Comics , and Star Wars, have pretty much taken over. It’s ruining our industry a little bit, because nobody does anything original anymore."

Emmerich's latest quotes are similar to ones that the Independence Day director made in 2019, telling Insider that he watches Marvel films "so I can fall asleep" while on long-haul flights. The filmmaker's remarks are sure to be likened to those made by acclaimed director Ridley Scott, who drew Marvel fans' ire for calling superhero movies "boring as s***" in November 2021 (per Deadline). 

Analysis: originality still exists in the film industry

Boba Fett and Fennec Shand discuss their plans with their troops in episode six of the Star Wars TV show

(Image credit: © 2021 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.)

On the surface, Emmerich's comments do make some sense. After all, 40% of the 20 most profitable movies ever are set in the Marvel and Star Wars universes. Those eight films have all been released in the last 10 years, too – proving that they're currently the most dominant forces in the movie industry.

But the notion that original movies aren't made anymore because of Marvel and Star Wars is a gross exaggeration. 

The highest grossing film of all time – James Cameron's Avatar – was a wholly original idea (if you overlook the obvious Pocahontas parallels) upon its initial 2009 release. That was only 12 years ago and, ironically enough, its success has spawned an Avatar franchise itself. Not only is a long overdue sequel finally coming in 2022, but there are three more sequels set to land in theaters before December 2028.

Given Emmerich's disinterest in Star Wars and superhero movies, it's surprising that he uses Christopher Nolan as an example of someone who "is a master" of making "bold, new movies". It was Nolan who directed the The Dark Knight trilogy between 2006 and 2012, with two of those three Batman movies – superhero films, remember – making over $1 billion at the global box office. Yes, the likes of Memento, Inception and Tenet pushed the boundaries of what's possible from a cinematic standpoint, but Nolan isn't immune to the allure of telling brilliant stories set in a superhero world.

And there are plenty of examples, in the top 50 highest grossing movies of all time list, that prove original movies still appeal to audiences and post huge box office numbers. Frozen, Minions, Pirates of the Caribbean and Zootopia are just four such examples that have all grossed over $1 billion worldwide in the past 20 years.

Add in eagerly anticipated original movies coming in 2022, such as Jordan Peele's Nope, Olivia Wilde's Don't Worry Darling, Robert Eggers' The Northman and Pixar's Turning Red, and there are lots of novel films set to launch very soon.

So yes, while Emmerich has a point about Marvel and Star Wars' box office dominance, his comments about the death of original movies are pretty hyperbolic. The sun will eventually set on the MCU and Star Wars franchises but, for now, they're here to stay – and that's alongside all original movies that are being, or yet to be, developed.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across. Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.