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For some fans, the low scores felt like a referendum not only on Snyder's work, but the DC Extended Universe franchise as a whole—so much so, a few defenders even began to speculate as to whether Rotten Tomatoes was manipulating the DCEU data (or, at the very least, grading the reviews on a much steeper curve than the Marvel films). Such theories filled messageboards and Quora discussions, and there was even a Change.org petition to shut the site down that collected more than 23,000 signatures).

DC fans very much do notwant these movies to suck, and when their very suckitude becomes a semi-objective truth—something that can be "proven" with a measurement like the Tomatometer—it can become the Mother Box of all insults.

Considering how some DC obsessives have reacted to the films' bad reviews—there have been death threats in the past—the conspiracy theory is actually a somewhat measured response. Yet there is no damning, X-on-the-bench-style clue-bonanza to pore over here, aside from the reviews themselves. There's also little in the way of motive: Why would RT want to intentionally and repeatedly crucify a franchise–especially one maintained by Warner Bros., which has held various financial stakes in the company? If RT did hold DC films to a harsher standard than Marvel films, why would movie critics acquiesce to having their opinions misrepresented? And how would the site's anomalous 92 percent critical score for Wonder Woman play into this supposed RT v DC secret war?

The simple answer to all of these questions is that the DC Extended Universe is, even its better moments, a wobbily constructed franchise-in-flux, and that the critics have responded accordingly. Yet it's hard not to understand why so many DC fans look at these RT scores and feel as though they're under attack, as well. In the social-media era, the lines between our personal lives and the pop-cultural ones have been erased, and the heroes we once adored and/or doodled in private have become literal public avatars. DC fans very much do not want these movies to suck, and when their very suckitude becomes a semi-objective truth—something that can be "proven" with a measurement like the Tomatometer—it can become the Mother Box of all insults. Even if the See It/Skip It ratings-ruse wasn't some Warner Bros.-dictated corporate maneuver (as an RT spokesperson told the Chicago Tribune), dangling the verdict in front of fans, and putting off the inevitable, felt like a misuse of power.

Which may be why, by Monday morning, another Justice League score had begun to draw attention on Rotten Tomatoes: The movie's audience score, which collected more than 100,000 votes, and is currently standing at 85 percent. Maybe those competing numbers speak to a larger divide, and that the critics who disliked Justice League are simply unaligned with the average moviegoer (a complaint that goes back decades now, and feels as pointless as ever). Perhaps there's a minor DC-fan counter-rebellion underway, with some users amping up their score a to send RT a message (or to encourage others to see the movie for themselves). Or maybe the future of movie discussion will simply come down to a numbers game, one in which viewers stake out a position, find the stats that seem to back it up, and stick to their own league.




If you tell a Marvel fan that Thor: The Dark World kinda sucked and Iron Man 2 was a sprawling, unfocused mess, they'll shrug and say, "Yeah, I kinda liked 'em. But you're right."

But if you go online and say similar things about Suicide Squad, Batman v Superman or Justice League, you'll be met with venom, hostility and, in some cases, legitimate death threats. If you point out that critics and fans — at least according to Rotten Tomatoes and CinemaScore, which measure such things — are divided on the quality of these films, you'll be called names as polite as "Marvel shill," and the tenor only goes downwards from there. And don't even mention the grosses. (For the record, Justice League, at $94 million domestic in its opening weekend, grossed almost $100 million less than Avengers: Age of Ultron in the same context — and a hair less than Wonder Woman, despite having six heroes to just the one.)

Now, there's no way to know if Marvel fans would be so drunk with rage if the MCU had floundered out of the gate the way the DCEU is. But there might be something in this: Much of the DC identity lay, especially in the wake of 1984's one-two smash of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, in the idea that gritty was cool. Dark was the way forward.

(Never mind that Richard Donner's Superman is the foundation upon which all of this is built. "You'll believe a man can fly" might as well be "You'll believe a man can skulk.")

Marvel was always younger, jokier, poppier — Spider-Man's wisecracks; the X-Men's teen drama — while DC was none-more-black. When Tim Burton borrowed Frank Miller's pearls-scattering origin sequence, and in the process, became a genuine pop culture phenomenon, DC fans were thrilled. When Nolan leaned into the dark for his trilogy, they were ecstatic. Snyder picked up that ball and ran with it — right into a wall of mainstream audiences and critics who, perhaps, thought that the Man of Steel should spend less time in the shadows.

Maybe, just maybe, when the dark failed, the stalwart DC fan felt that anyone who tried to shine a light on why deserved whatever they got.

Tribalism is a shiny, beautiful double-edged sword. One stroke makes you feel at home with people who share your beliefs. It's where community comes from: Folks who can, together, push towards a common goal. The warm blanket of unity. But the other stroke brings its own kind of heat — a fury for anyone who doesn't agree. Who doesn't wear the right colors. Who doesn't toe the line and like the right stuff with the same full-throated cry.

Will DC and Warner Bros. find their footing? Maybe. Maybe not. I sure would like them to, because we're better off with the "distinguished competition" operating at the highest level. The rising tide lifts all boats. But a functioning fandom, like a functioning society, needs to be able to brook disagreements and embrace a plurality of opinions.

When you demand that everyone love what you love, in exactly the manner in which you love it, or suffer the consequences — real, lasting consequences — you've pushed past fandom and into fanaticism.

And a thing that was borne out of innocent childhood passion shouldn't be the cover for this much anger.


I am a huge DCEU Fan myself and I have posted reviews to the DCEU films on my blog, and I while yes most of the fans are just regular casual joes; however, there is a section of them that are hotblooded salt factories that are way too obsessive. These subsection of fans are obsessed with always being on the defensive. Feeling the need to defend every single thing about the DCEU whether it be good or bad, smart or dumb. These fans are insecure people, who don't seem to be comfortable within their own fandom. I wanted to highlight these articles in order to shed some light on this type of toxic fandom. Yes, RT, Critics, and we as a fan community as a whole have contributed towards this toxic environment, but their needs to be a sense of personal responsibility as to how individual fans conduct themselves.

As the article mentions the DCEU fans are very sensitive right now due to all of the criticism and reaction(box office and other wise) towards Justice League(which should have been DCEU's crown jewel). As the article mentions if the shoe was on the other foot MCU fan, may have turned down the same dark path. I think we can all make things healthier if we just remember these are "fictional characters" and it's not the end of the world if someone doesn't like a movie or something in a particular movie you happen to love. Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving!!!!