It's 'Captain Marvel' vs. the trolls on Rotten Tomatoes

Brie Larson as the titular hero in <em>Captain Marvel</em> (Photo: Marvel Studios)
Brie Larson as the titular hero in Captain Marvel (Photo: Marvel Studios)

Carol Danvers is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s most powerful heroes — but alas, even she can’t banish trolls. As Captain Marvel opens theatrically, already voters on Rotten Tomatoes have sabotaged its audience score. As of Friday morning, the film had an 81 percent fresh rating from critics and an audience score of 33 percent. Why is this suspicious? Because, as The Hollywood Reporter pointed out, the score came from over 58,000 reviews — more than Avengers: Infinity War received during its entire theatrical run. In other words: most of the people voting down Marvel’s first female-led superhero film hadn’t yet seen it.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Because of the surge in misogynist trolls — or, in the diplomatic words of Rotten Tomatoes’ press release, “an uptick in non-constructive input” — the site recently removed users’ ability to post reviews before a film’s release. And Captain Marvel was receiving 0 percent fresh audience scores long before it hit theaters.

As of press time, the number of user ratings on Captain Marvel has decreased, suggesting that Rotten Tomatoes is making an effort to weed out the bad actors. But you can still get a taste of the comments on Metacritic, where the film has a user score of 2 out of 100 (in contrast to the reviewer score of 65 out of 100). Among the 500 negative reviews are some users who appear to have seen Captain Marvel, and many who obviously haven’t. There are numerous mentions of the derogatory phrase “SJW” (social justice warrior), accusations of “feminist propaganda,” and complaints that actress Brie Larson should smile more (a “controversy” that started with the release of the film’s poster, and which Yahoo Entertainment discussed with Larson in the interview below).

“That’s just a depiction of the female experience,” Larson said. “This is part of why art that depicts the female experience is so important because on one hand, for women and girls it allows us to go, ‘Oh, I have that experience too.’ And those that aren’t in our bodies can go, ‘Wait, that happens to you? We’ve got to do better.’”

Previous films hit by “review bombing” on Rotten Tomatoes include Black Panther, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and the Ghostbusters remake. All of them were targeted for the same reason: the irrational belief that racially diverse casts and female lead characters in genre films are somehow a threat to white men (who still have the vast majority of roles in studio films). In the case of Captain Marvel, this toxic segment of superhero fandom is specifically angry with Brie Larson for advocating for feminist causes offscreen and for, well, not giving a crap about what the trolls say. Perhaps that’s the best superpower of all.

Watch: Why ‘Captain Marvel’ filmmakers avoided superhero’s problematic past and embraced a new empowered version:

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