This is why we can’t have nice things.
No movie in 2019 is more eagerly anticipated than Captain Marvel.
The long-awaited first female-led superhero film in the Marvel franchise, it stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, a fighter pilot turned alien warrior hero so powerful that she’s not only going to save the world, she’s going to save the Avengers, too. Remember: Iron Man, Captain America and Thor et al finished Avengers: Infinity War in a bit of a tight spot after Thanos killed half the population. Never fear, Captain Marvel is here.
Over here in the Stylist.co.uk offices we know that women are strong and smart and powerful and awe-inspiring. We celebrate this on a daily basis. But there are many out there who aren’t as comfortable watching a female superhero save the world in such spectacular fashion.
And they’re all trolls lurking in the swampy backwaters of the internet.
A campaign spearheaded by sexist social media users to target Captain Marvel with negative reviews has hit Rotten Tomatoes today. The idea, according to these users, is to ensure that the movie’s audience score is impacted and reduced.
Just to be clear, the film hasn’t even been released yet. But that hasn’t stopped people leaving negative comments on the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes’ page anyway. These reviews target the film’s female-led subject matter and star Larson’s commitment to utilise inclusion riders on the press tour for the movie to ensure that female, disabled and people of colour journalists are given preference for interview time.
“I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male,” Larson has said. “Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive.”
The trolls hanging out under the internet’s proverbial bridge have taken umbrage at her thoughtful, insightful comments. “Not interested in supporting Brie Larson’s agenda,” one commenter sniped by way of a review on Rotten Tomatoes.
“As a white male I don’t think Brie would want me watching this movie,” another added. “Larson has made it clear… men need not attend this movie,” one wrote. “I somehow feel that Skull are not the enemy but that I am, since Brie Larsen (sic) has been careful to state that she doesn’t want the Press Tour to include types like me,” another added.”
“Brie Larson has already said this isn’t for me. I’ll spend my money elsewhere,” someone else wrote.
There are dozens more where these comments came from referencing Larson’s stance on inclusivity and, more generally, the push for diversity onscreen in this female-led superhero film.
If you could permit me the opportunity to speculate, I would hazard a guess that the Venn diagram between the Captain Marvel trolls and the trolls who hated Star Wars: The Last Jedi because its plot was led by a group of complex women isn’t actually a Venn diagram at all, it’s a circle.
Thankfully, these negative reviews are hidden in a section of Rotten Tomatoes that you can’t immediately see, and though they are impacting the audience score – currently sitting at 63%, a lower score than the controversy-shrouded Liam Neeson film Cold Pursuit – they will soon be obscured by the actual reviews from actual film critics in a matter of weeks.
For now, we’ll have to settle for the first social media reactions from the lucky few who have been able to catch an early screening of the movie on 20 February. Those viewers called it “cool, “a blast, “a joy” and said that it “soars”.
So that’s that. We’d rather listen to the words of people who have seen the movie than all the nameless, faceless trolls hellbent on sinking Captain Marvel before it’s even released in cinemas, simply because Larson wants to ensure that diverse voices are allowed to interview her and comment on a film made expressly for everyone.
But if you really want to hear the opinion of a white man, how about listening to Regan, Stylist.co.uk’s social media editor and a lifelong Marvel fan. He’s not deterred from seeing Captain Marvel because of Larson’s laudable comments. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“As a white man I think we should actually all just shut up and enjoy the movie,” Regan told me, when I asked him for this thoughts. “This isn’t about us, and it shouldn’t be.”
Captain Marvel is in cinemas on 8 March, International Women’s Day. Regan already has tickets.