Even before Captain Marvel began battling the Skrulls in theaters on March 7, she was facing another foe online: internet trolls. On Rotten Tomatoes, the comment section for the Marvel film was filled with negative reviews before it opened.
Some were most likely in response to comments star Brie Larson had made about diversity and inclusivity among film critics, wanting to see more than just the opinions than middle-aged white men represented. Some were probably the usual gang of misogynists who show up with torches and pitchforks whenever a female is the lead in a genre picture. (See: Ghostbusters 2016, Wonder Woman, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: Rogue One, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the new season of Doctor Who, etc.)
Rotten Tomatoes recently instituted a new policy that no longer allows the general public to review a movie before its official release date. (Rotten Tomatoes insists this was not done on behalf of Captain Marvel specifically.) Within hours of Captain Marvel‘s premiere, it had tens of thousands of reviews and an audience rating of 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. (Compared to a rating of 81% by the critics.) The internet trolls had sandbagged it._
As The Hollywood Reporter noted, Captain Marvel had already amassed more audience reviews than Avengers: Infinity War did in its entire run.
Rotten Tomatoes is now saying thousands of those numbers were reviews submitted before the movie opened, and a bug in their system accidentally let them through. They have now been deleted. But the audience score for the film still hovered around 55% throughout opening weekend. (As of this writing, it is up to 62%.)
Fandango also appears to still be attracting trolls with vague but hateful reviews like the following:
ABSOLUTE GARBAGE FOR THE BRAIN
Femimism destroys brain cells. Don’t subject yourself to this POS movie.
WASTE OF MONEY
Sick of SJW’s taking over every single darn escape from reality entertainment avenue
HATED IT WORSE THAN MY CAT DYING OF KITTY AIDS
IT WAS TRASH
It was 100% sjw trash. wish i could give less than 1 star
Captain Marvel won this round, as the movie made $153 million on opening weekend. It won the top box office slot two weekends in a row. And it made over $760 million worldwide at this point. Furthermore, Rotten Tomatoes is now planning to create a way to have users verify they’ve seen a movie before being allowed to leave a review.
Carol Danvers isn’t the only Marvel hero to face backlash. The whole world seemed to be excited for Black Panther‘s release last February, but not everyone was. Facebook banned a group called “Down with Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys.” The group planned to bring down the audience score for the movie on Rotten Tomatoes because of concerns about minorities and “social justice warrior” messages. The Facebook ban didn’t stop thousands of trolls from going to the Internet Movie Database to give Black Panther a 1 out of 10, the lowest rating possible — before it even opened. Not that anyone noticed, most likely with the flood of positive reviews coming in for this record-breaking film.
The popular Star Wars franchise is not immune from trolls either. The hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII was started by a few internet trolls who opposed a woman and a black man starring in a Star Wars film.
Daisy Ridley left social media after an Instagram post was deemed by fans to be too political, and she was attacked for it. Kelly Marie Tran left Instagram after trolls repeatedly left hateful, racist, and sexist comments on her page because they didn’t like her character in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The 2016 all-female reboot of Ghostbusters faced some of the worst trolling. IMDb users down-voted it to a 3.7 out of 10 before it opened. Leslie Jones eventually left Twitter for a period of time, because she was receiving death threats and unspeakably racist messages and images.
So far, Tessa Thompson (from Thor: Ragnarok) doesn’t seem to be receiving the same treatment for Men In Black International. Perhaps because she’s “only” the co-star, and not the sole lead. Most YouTube comments on the trailer bemoan the absence of Will Smith. Only a very few complain that a woman shouldn’t star in a movie called MEN in Black, or that the movie is pushing a social justice warrior message. (Seriously? Have you seen how goofy the trailer is?)
Marvel is looking to cast their first openly gay male lead for The Eternals, and unfortunately he’ll probably have to deal with the trolls too.
I’m excited to live in a time when there is so much diversity and representation on-screen. This past year, there were an amazing amount of films written by, directed by, and starring people of color. There was a record number of Oscar wins by both women and black people this year. How is that not exciting to people? I don’t understand people who see a political agenda in a well-made movie, just because it features a woman or someone who’s not Caucasian. I hate that anyone tries to put a damper on the enthusiasm of fans who are passionate about something.
I’ll give the last word on this to Clark Gregg (MCU’s Agent Coulson) who described haters as “butthurt” and “dinosaurs heading towards the tar pits.”
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