At this point, it’s become an annual tradition. Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment release the latest installment in the DC Extended Universe. Critics rate it. DC fans get outraged and complain about bias. It’s around this time when fans start comparing the DCEU movies to the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and ask why critics on average rate the Marvel movies higher than the DC movies. Surely there has to be a reason, and that reason must be bias or covert paydays.
As a lifelong DC fan, I would like to say something to my fellow DC enthusiasts. THERE. IS. NO. CONSPIRACY against the DC Extended Universe. The assertion that hundreds of separate publications and sites are banding together to secretly plot against Justice League and other DCEU movies is absurd.
Even as I type this, thousands of tweets claiming bias are being sent out. Thus, I wanted to address some of these sentiments.
“Justice League is at 37% on Rotten Tomatoes. This film deserves much higher.”
I think this idea actually stems from not understanding how the Rotten Tomatoes score works. 37% isn’t the ‘F’ you may have gotten in grade school. It means that of all the critics whose reviews were aggregated on Rotten Tomatoes, 37% of them said “Yes, it’s good,” while 63% of them said “No, it’s bad.” That’s all it is. In theory, a movie with a 100% on the Tomatometer could indicate that 100% of the critics thought the movie was “meh, I guess it was fine.” Similarly, a 0%, in theory, could mean that 100% of the critics thought it was “somewhat entertaining, but not a good movie”. The Tomatometer might give you a decent idea of the structural weaknesses of a movie, or help influence whether or not you want to take the gamble and buy a $12 ticket. But overall, it may just be a meaningless number.
Also remember that the majority is not always right. Rather than looking at the score, look at the individual reviews of reviewers and critics you trust. Of course, it would be naive to say that Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t matter. These scores have become a huge part of the movie going experience, especially when tickets are becoming more expensive while simultaneously, Hollywood is releasing so many duds.
“Critics just like to hate on DC.”
This is an absurd statement. What possible reason could there be for the critics to just dislike DC? If you recall, the original Keaton Batman movies were all really well-received. These came out before the golden era of superhero movies. There was no set precedent from the start that dictated that DC movies will be held at a different standard.
Also, did everyone already forget that earlier this year, Wonder Woman scored 92% on Rotten Tomatoes? And don’t forget the Dark Knight trilogy. Batman Begins scored 84%. The Dark Knight is sitting at 94%, and The Dark Knight Rises at 87%. It makes no sense that critics would randomly pause to not be biased toward a few DC movies, and then return to attacking the others. That perceived “flip flop” is just people having opinions.
“It’s hypocritical that this Marvel movie is getting praised for being funny and light-hearted, while Justice League is getting criticized for being funny and light-hearted. Which is it?”
You’re comparing apples to oranges. Every movie is inherently different. You can’t treat these like a scientific equation; there are too many unquantifiable variables. In regard to this specific statement, there is no universal rule that dictates “humor equals good,” and “gritty equals bad.” It depends on the tonal consistency of a movie, the writing, and a bunch of other factors. For instance, if you’re watching a heavy film about genocide that throws in a bunch of random dick jokes, chances are it’s going to be a miss. If you do the same in a movie that’s supposed to be a comedy, it’ll obviously be received much better. In regard to these superhero movies, it means that some critics did not like how humor was handled in one movie, and liked how it was handled in another.
Don’t listen to critics. Fans are more important.
I both agree and disagree with this statement. I agree that at the end of the day, your opinion as a viewer and fan is what should count. That said, this thought implies that critics are not fans. In reality, film critics love movies just as much as the rest of us do. One could even argue that they love them more so, since they’ve devoted their lives to studying and analyzing them. They don’t nitpick just for the hell of it.
It seems like people carry a mistaken notion that critiquing or pointing out the negtives in something means that you don’t like that thing. On the contrary, you can point out the flaws in a movie and still like it. Those two concepts aren’t mutually exclusive. I enjoyed Man of Steel, but it also had a ton of flaws. I must have rewatched the Batman warehouse scene from Batman v. Superman at least a hundred times. But in terms of writing, the movie was all over the place. Again, that doesn’t mean that I won’t go back and rewatch that scene a hundred more times before the next Batman movie.
Being open-minded and critical is important to all things, and applies to every facet of life. Which person do you like better; the narcissist, or the one who acknowledges his or her own weaknesses and wants to overcome them? If as fans, all we ever did was just priase something without voicing our opinion on weaknesses, we never would have gotten an excellent Wonder Woman movie. If we don’t express our disappointment, then what reason do producers and directors have for making the next movie even better for us? We’re paying money to see these movies. As a collective, we can sway what gets made, and how it gets made.
“Don’t believe the negative reviews”
Implicit in a lot of similar tweets is that there is a right or wrong answer to your enjoyment of a movie. There isn’t. There is nothing to “believe.” The reviewers are giving their opinion on the movie. Decide what your opinion is on your own. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t.
Marvel vs. DC
You don’t need to choose a side. You can like both. Fanboy-ism ruins everything. You see the exact same arguments spring up during an Apple or Android phone release. You could literally replace the proper nouns in these arguments, replacing “Apple” and “Samsung” with “DC” and “Marvel,” and they’ll all still make sense.
During the summer of 2012, I got the opportunity to intern at Marvel Entertainment. It was during the height of The Avengers and it was an exciting time to be there. While there were highlights to the internship, one memory that sticks is how much the majority of people working there loved comics. This extended beyond Marvel, and to DC and other publishers as well. Plenty of creative talents have written or illustrated for both Marvel and DC. There was also a box of comics by Intern Row that was full of DC comic books. They were comics that DC sent to Marvel, and Marvel sends DC free comics as well. If the people who create the stories can coexist, then why can’t us fans?