I’m sure you’ve heard about it across social media sites, or through internet chatter. There’s something going on between Captain Marvel and Rotten Tomatoes and it has blown into a full-fledged controversy. Its impact became so widespread recently that Rotten Tomatoes was forced to implement some rules on its site to prevent abuse of ratings. So what’s been going on and what exactly is this supposed controversy about? I thought I’d put forth a chronological narrative of events to give some idea to people who’ve been out of touch with this bit.
Captain Marvel has been mired in some form of hate and debate for a long time now. The earliest indications were Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige’s comments, stating that Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel will be the strongest Avenger introduced in the MCU thus far. This snowballed further with statements from Brie Larson herself, adding that Danvers can move planets and Feige further cementing Captain Marvel’s position as someone who will play a very important role in the MCU going forward.
It all came to a head when Brie Larson expressed her desire to see more diversity in the then upcoming Captain Marvel press junket. Her statements were misread as Larson wanting white male men to stay away from the press screening, inviting black, latino and other women and men of color to grace the event. Instead, it was viewed all over the web as Larson having something against white males and presenting herself as something of an SJW, perhaps even the epitome of it.
This certainly didn’t sit well with a lot of people online (presumably white males although we aren’t sure). They took offence to Larson’s remarks, and started twisting the narrative to make it sound like Larson officially hates white males, and would rather have them stay away from the MCU. It lead to angry discussions about how Larson and her character Captain Marvel, a newcomer to the MCU, are taking all the hard work and credit away from superheroes like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk who’ve been a part of the MCU for much longer. This made people angrier still in that they didn’t want to see Captain Marvel play a major role in defeating Thanos in Avengers: Endgame.
And so, united in hatred, these netizens took to Rotten Tomatoes to lower the movie’s audience want-to-see rating. Note that this isn’t a rating that indicates the movie’s score; those ratings won’t open until Captain Marvel‘s release. Instead, this was a percentage indicating how many among the audience were wanting to see this movie. Originally a much higher score, hovering around the 70s, this was hijacked by trolls and brought down to 27%.
For a long time, the notion was that this won’t affect the higher-ups but that turns out to not be the case. In a move implemented about two days back, Rotten Tomatoes made changes to the site, banning any sort of ratings against a movie before its release. Gone was the audience score expressing how much people are interested in the movie. But it wasn’t just for Captain Marvel, the score is no longer valid for all movies. This means any sort of score for a movie will now be available only once the movie releases.
Will this deter the trolls from further action? Absolutely not. They’re going to take over the site’s ratings once Captain Marvel is out, and even flock to other sites like IMdB to bring down its rating. Don’t be surprised then if you see Captain Marvel receiving low audience scores but high critic scores, it’s the same thing that happened with Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Black Panther for different, but equally problematic reasons.
What’s my take on all of this? It’s horrendous for people to band together to either raise or lower a movie’s rating, as that skews the perspective for a lot of people who aren’t aware of these controversies. Such people may genuinely perceive Captain Marvel to be a bad movie and miss out on something that they could’ve liked instead. Bottomline then? Stay away from the negativity. Whether or not you’d like to watch Captain Marvel is a decision you should make yourself, regardless of any critic or audience reviews.
And in case you need some help, remember that Captain Marvel will be followed just a month later by Avengers: Endgame and will undoubtedly have some connections to it. That should help.
Captain Marvel releases in theaters on March 8, 2019. Advance tickets are now on sale for this MCU movie directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.