DISCLAIMER: I’m sure there was some normal internet fandom-whining in there too. It is your Constitutional right to hate on a movie, because it is only a frakking movie. Seriously, it’s in the Constitution, go read it.
BUT, the trolling on CAPTAIN MARVEL blew up particularly hard on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a website that somehow has become important to the film industry. It became evident that there existed a coordinated effort to drive down the film’s rating (sight unseen), and again on Captain Marvel’s opening weekend, the film was “sandbagged” on the popular film rating site.
DISCLAIMER 2: I don’t give one flying frak about Rotten Tomatoes scores. Like Yelp reviews of Asian restaurants, RotTom is a large platform for people who know nothing to say so very loudly. If Rotten Tomatoes goes offline tomorrow, I’m pleased to say it will have affected my film-watching experiences in this lifetime exactly 0%.
EXCEPT! Here’s where it gets personal, because CAPTAIN MARVEL is an excellent film. It over-delivers AF. Like BLACK PANTHER and JESSICA JONES, it’s just way better than it has to be to serve its primary function (i.e., the Marvel Thing This Month). It does indeed reach higher, and further, than is required of its genre. Honestly, going in, I thought it was gonna be just an okay movie. But it’s much more than just okay, and that’s why I THINK it was attacked not only by normal trolls (Threat Level 0.05) and fragile misogynists (Threat Level Varies By Armor Class) but by semi-organized white supremacists (Threat Level OMG Not This Again).
Because not only is Captain Marvel a white woman (Jeez, the horror! Have you read a comic ever?), she’s best friends with a black woman. She teams up with a black man (Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) on a rescue mission where the rescuee turns out to be not quite whom we thought it was from the outset.
SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS FOR THE CAPTAIN MARVEL FILM, AND SOME DEEPDISH MARVEL NERD TALK, FOLLOW:
The Kree, in the comics, are not really analagous to white supremacists as we have them on Earth, but canonically they are alien-technology-powered Genetic Supremacists, which dips into the same uncomfortable waters. Look, comic superheroes wouldn’t be anywhere without crazy gene-experiment origin stories — it’s a big trope of the form. All’s I’m saying is, the Kree are always messing with gene-altering technology to make people better stronger faster, and I concede that their first major avatar in the Marvel Comics Universe was this guy:
…who eventually died of cancer. Anyways, the neat sci-fi allegorical trick they play up in CAPTAIN MARVEL is, yeah, the Kree are on the side with the beautiful people (Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Gemma Chan, Annette Benning) and some of them are blue and some are brown and some are white, so they’re not exactly opposed to diversity of skin tone….but the Kree ALL have an Asshole Superiority Complex which turns out to be the dividing line between Earth and Hala.
And the Skrulls turn out to be not whom you thought they were, because they never are.
Anyways, so back to the CAPTAIN MARVEL uber-trolling. In the course of Twitter-covering Marvel Studios’ live press event last Monday, I firsthand encountered all these Twitter trolls who seemed to be fake, phishing, and most disturbingly, fit the profile of the Russian disinformation campaign that has infiltrated our social media since at least the 2016 presidential election.
Why would Russian Intelligence care about CAPTAIN MARVEL the not-real American superhero? Haven’t got there yet. But I get why the white supremacist movement in America would care (partly for reasons laid out above), and maybe they would care enough to follow this very easy playbook:
- Create a fake social media profile.
- Pick a side, left or right, SJW or Trumphead, and create a piece of misinformation that will get them REALLY MAD.
- Watch your target get mad, incite them to be madder, watch things fall apart.
This was going on ALL OVER THE TWITTERPLACE during CAPTAIN MARVEL’s opening week, especially with (incorrect) stories of Maria and Monica Rambeau’s origins in the comics and misused throwing around of the phrase “cultural appropriation”….all WRONG, btw, just MISINFORMATION that any casual reader of Marvel Comics could quickly discern as Not What Really Happened. This in addition to the assholery about Brie Larson supposedly hating white men. (The attacks on her are rooted in Institutional Misogyny fer sure, but can be passed off as personal opinion, and thus lack the burden of a factual basis.)
I’m not going to show these Tweets, ’cause I don’t want to amplify them. If ya don’t believe me, don’t believe me. My sole concern is in answering the question of Why would someone care if CAPTAIN MARVEL is thought of as a good film, does good box office, or is highly-rated on a popular film website? It’s a Marvel Studios tentpole release, it’s not like it’s gonna disappear from the culture; why all the fuss?
BIG. SPOILER. ALERT. And keep in mind, Marvel Studios’ operational security on their plotlines is consistently on-point. VERY FEW people knew the full plotline of CAPTAIN MARVEL prior to actually seeing the film. Skip the next italicized paragraph if you don’t want to know about one of the more fascinating turns in the story.
CAPTAIN MARVEL is about white people and black people (and alien people) teaming up to (among other things) aid a group of green-skinned alien refugees. It’s got a white woman and a black woman who are best friends, sisters-at-arms, and co-protagonists. Every character in the film is complicit in prolonging the Kree-Skrull War; as she spoils in one of the first trailers, Carol Danvers’ mission changes from winning the war to ending it.
Another way of putting that is, it’s one of the greatest films Marvel Studios has made, if not the greatest. It’s fun, photonic, sharply written, beautifully edited, the score and the soundtrack songs kick all sorts of ass, there are call-outs and Easter Eggs for a thousand 1990’s things as well as Marvel things, the cast is truthful and committed, Brie Larson’s performance is sarcastic and pained and capable and searching, as you’d want any lead character to be, and I might add, she looks just like Carol Danvers does in the funnybooks.
So why again, would that be a conceptual problem for anyone who is NOT a white supremacist? You can NOT LIKE THE FILM AS MUCH AS I DID, that’s totes cool, bro, but why would you want to sew racial divide and impugn Larson’s very existence, before the film is even seen? WHO WOULD DO THAT?
A Skrull would, traditionally. But traditions can get made over. Go see CAPTAIN MARVEL, it’s a really good movie.