This Tuesday I wrote about the controversy surrounding Marvel’s latest film, Captain Marvel. The reaction to the film had become so politicized that movie rating site Rotten Tomatoes had made a change to their site to prevent people from posting negative “reviews” prior to a film’s release.

Well, Captain Marvel opens today which means that today the floodgates were opened at Rotten Tomatoes and in a matter of hours there were tens of thousands of mostly negative reviews of the film. From the Hollywood Reporter.

The Disney film had only been in theaters for hours on Friday when the female-driven superhero picture was torpedoed online via Rotten Tomatoes.

As of 8 a.m., the film had a 33 percent audience score from more than 58,000 reviews. That is more than the total of audience score reviews for Avengers: Infinity War for its entire theatrical run.

I don’t know how many thousands of people saw the film last night as part of early previews but unless every one of them contributed a review, it seems likely a lot of these people were just trying to drive the film’s score down without having seen it. Rotten Tomatoes apparently felt that way too because it subsequently deleted more than 50,000 of these “reviews.” From ComicBook.com:

Rotten Tomatoes just had to purge over 50,000 bad reviews from Captain Marvel.

Not bad as in negative mind you, because that happens all the time and is part of the process. No, these were part of a “review bomb,” illegitimate reviews intentionally aimed at lowering the score that can be affected by such a campaign, the Audience Score. This became quite noticeable once Rotten Tomatoes saw the overall number of user reviews for Captain Marvel sat at around 58,000, which is way above the norm for a movie.

If you visit the site now, there are just over 10,000 reviews producing an audience score of 34%. That’s still really low and it still looks to me as if a lot of the people posting things may not have seen the movie:

  • “Rated half a star because 0 isn’t available.”
  • “it’s really bad, boring & generic cringe fest !”
  • “Movie was terrible, boring story with horrible acting.”

Those are not excerpts, those are complete reviews. There are a lot of them like that. Did any of these people see the film? Your guess is as good as mine.

There are a lot of positive reviews as well, and some of them are quite short too, e.g. “Fantastic movie, Brie Larson is perfectly cast as Carol Danvers.” Did that guy see it or is he just anti-anti-Captain Marvel?

All of this apparently stems from some comments star Brie Larson made last year about white, male movie critics being overrepresented. The trolls who are apparently posting the negative reviews don’t like being lectured and I get that. Making everything political just makes everything worse in my opinion. These are wish-fulfillment popcorn movies. They’re just supposed to be fun.

And if you really step back, they tend to be sort of innately conservative. Usually, the plots have to do with evildoers who are doing something dangerous or insane with their power. That’s true of Red Skull, Loki, Ultron, Aldrich Killian, Kaecilius, Darren Cross, Erik Killmonger, and of course Thanos. They are all trying to change things in dramatic ways and the heroes are trying to conserve what exists, especially to preserve the lives of ordinary people who can’t stand up for themselves. That’s the pattern. Admittedly, sometimes the villains have a point. That’s sort of the case with Ultron and certainly the case with Killmonger. That makes the stories more interesting but for the most part, these are films about preserving stability.

I think that makes them less-than-ideal candidates for loading up with social justice baggage. As I said before, I don’t care if Marvel wants to promote this as the most important thing woman-kind has ever accomplished. But pissing off all the white, male fanboys who have made Marvel billions of dollars in the past decade doesn’t seem smart. This really isn’t that hard. Instead of sending the message that we must like it, just make a good movie. And it’s not clear if that happened. From Vulture:

Captain Marvel is a movie you want to say nice things about because the worst people on the internet are against it, but that also feels slightly false because it’s just okay. As Thrillist’s Emma Stefansky put it, “we got ghostbustered y’all.”

You remember Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters remake, which arrived in the marginally more innocent days of summer 2016 and offered almost a point-by-point preview of the Captain Marvel experience: the same geek-culture backlash, the same media stanning, and ultimately the same dispiriting result — a forgettable epic whose sky-high budget and expectations cost it, in the words of Alyssa Rosenberg, “the ability to say anything risky and harsh and true.” Three years later, the online conflict surrounding the movie is the only thing anyone remembers about it.

Actually, I remember that Ghostbusters (2016) was terrible. I saw it and the critics were right about it. And I also remember that the people desperate to defend it because they liked the rah-rah feminism angle used to promote it wound up looking like fools.

But tonight, I’m going to see Captain Marvel so I can make up my own mind. I’m still rooting for it though it’s starting to feel like an underdog.