As Disney and Marvel Studios gear up for the March 8 release of Captain Marvel, the first female-led solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some fans aren't celebrating but are instead attempting to poison the well, and presumably damage its opening-weekend box office. Trolls are bombing Captain Marvel's Rotten Tomatoes entry with negative reviews intended to sabotage its audience score.
It's important to note that no public screenings have been held for the film.
Most of the negative comments littering Captain Marvel's audience review section of the aggregator site aren't so much concerned with the film as with its star, Academy Award winner Brie Larson. Left by predominately male users, the remarks are primarily focused on what they claim are her "racist and sexist" views.
The outrage, such that it is, stems from a recent interview in which Larson called for inclusivity after she noticed that journalists attending press events and reviewing films were "overwhelmingly white male."
"Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive," she told Keah Brown, a disabled journalist whom she specifically sought out. "After speaking with you, the film critic Valerie Complex and a few other women of color, it sounded like across the board they weren’t getting the same opportunities as others. When I talked to the facilities that weren’t providing it, they all had different excuses."
Those comments have been singled out by some corners of the internet, and seemingly purposely misinterpreted to mean Larson doesn't want white men reviewing, or seeing, Captain Marvel. Many of the comments on Rotten Tomatoes certainly reflect that distorted view.
Of course, Larson was a target for criticism well before this, for everything from her championing of Captain Marvel's feminist themes to, of all things, not smiling enough in the first trailer. That led to the unfortunate social media trend of "fixing" the footage by Photoshopping a smile onto her face. But by voicing her opinion, she's became a much larger target for a subset of fans who seem to think the film isn't tailored enough to them (beginning, perhaps, with it starring Carol Danvers instead of the original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell).
Other major films have been targeted in similar outrage campaigns, most notably the divisive Star Wars: The Last Jedi, whose Rotten Tomatoes audience score plummeted as the blockbuster sequel rolled out worldwide. The review aggregator website insisted the low audience score was indeed genuine, but later research found the online vitriol directed toward the film and its cast was amplified by Russian bots. (Far from harmless, harassment drove The Last Jedi co-star Kelly Marie Tran off of the internet.)
Fans upset by the poor critical reception of 2017's Justice League also threatened a reviewing-bombing campaign against Marvel's Black Panther, in some sort of confounding tit for tat. That plan obviously failed, if it ever got off the ground.
However, The Last Jedi went on to earn more than $1.33 billion worldwide, while Black Panther grossed $1.35 billion, and garnered seven Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture. That would certainly seem to suggest reviewing bombing does little but temporarily scratch an itch felt by angry commenters.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck from a script they wrote with Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch, Meg LeFauve, Nicole Perlman and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jude Law as Mar-Vell, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer, Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos and Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau. The film arrives on March 8.