Ahhhh, Rotten Tomatoes! That infamous aggregator that can sink a film or ensure one’s success with a flick of the Tomatometer. Much has been said about Justice League‘s Tomatometer score, and some have even theorized that the film’s audience score may have been artificially inflated the same way The Last Jedi was accused of having its score artificially deflated. However, for the first time there is empirical evidence that this is not the case, and that the cause for the review disparity runs far deeper.
Prominent YouTube personality MatPat, and his team from The Film Theorists channel, developed a Natural Language Sentiment Algorithm that analyzed the text of Justice League reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, looking for anomalies indicative of bot behavior. Their findings showed that Justice League reviews were, overall, not the victim of botting, but rather, there was a clear and distinct pattern of fans giving the film poor marks in their written reviews and a 5 Star rating for the overall.
In one example, The Film Theorists’ algorithm found a written review with 2 Star sentiments and an overall 5 Star review. The review read, “The plot is shaky and has questionable storylines. Character portrayal and team chemistry have great potential to be fully utilized on future set-up. Not for all audiences for sure, but some comic nerds might get excited.”
Rotten Tomatoes has often been accused of “Marvel Bias,” and this review trend from fans translates to a sort of “Criticism of Critics.” But there’s also evidence that the trend doesn’t help the DCEU, but rather hurts its ability to get better. Famously, Chris Hemsworth demanded changes to the Thor franchise after director and geek film critic Kevin Smith leveled criticism against Thor: The Dark World. The end result was constructive criticism winning the day. Thor: Ragnarok is currently the highest rated Thor film on Rotten Tomatoes, and the fourth highest rated MCU film overall. The facts don’t lie, folks.
As MatPat puts it, “Studios can make better movies when they know what they need to do. While a lot of fans of course want to run to defend their favorite franchises, it’s important to know that fans have some of the most powerful voices in the industry. And a lot of times it’s the FANS- not the critics, not even the bots- who get the credit for pushing for big changes in their favorite fictional universes.”
This is a sentiment we also hold on this site. Franchises live or die by how fans respond, and the power is in our hands to let Warner Bros know we want only the best content they can deliver.
You can watch MatPat’s Film Theory here:
And for more DCEU news, stay tuned to WOBAM!
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