'Captain Marvel' Review-Bombing Campaign Shows How Crowdsourcing Went Wrong

It’s metrics versus the people today on Waypoints. Patrick just wanted to know which movies are worth seeing, but he’s shocked by how much Rotten Tomatoes has become a front for the most asinine battles in the culture war. Meanwhile, Rob has been listening to Mike Duncan’s Revolutions podcast, particularly his series on the French Revolution. It’s a good telling of an incredibly complicated story, but does the framework of a story about revolutions, with protagonists and tragic heroes, have an inherently conservative bent? Finally, Danielle is fascinated by the strange ritual of the NFL Combine, and the weird ways it attempts to use physical measurements to predict future performance.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/43z7kp/captain-marvel-review-bombing-campaign-shows-how-crowdsourcing-went-wrong

(Technical note: the autopost system we use to cross-post Waypoint articles is having some technical difficulties. Please click on the above link to read the article in full!)

I’m surprised I didn’t notice anyone discuss what I use the audience rating for. Oscar nominees and genre films, and other cases where I can’t really trust the critics to be objective from the perspective of the audience.
Examples of movies underrated by critics compared to audience:
Bohemian Rhapsody - 60% critic, 87% audience
Green Book - 79% critic, 92% audience
Alita: Battle Angel - 60% critic, 94% audience
Event Horizon - 27% critic, 61% audience
Stargate - 48% critic, 73% audience

Examples of movies overrated by critics compared to audience:
The Favourite - 94% critic, 66% audience
Roma - 96% critic, 71% audience
First Man - 87% critic, 66% audience
Indiana Jones & the KotCS - 78% critic, 53% audience
It Comes at Night - 87% critic, 44% audience

Often when there’s a gap that isn’t associated with a review bomb, I typically find myself more aligned with the audience.

woke: captain marvel is feminist empowerment
broke: captain marvel is sjw propaganda
bespoke: captain marvel is an ad for the US airforce and as such is fash as hell

EDIT: I’m probably going to enjoy the movie, but this whole review bombing thing even more stupid to me when the movie is propaganda of a different, imperialist flavour.


Reviews aren’t meant to be objective.

H-How is it propaganda for the airforce? Are you only saying that because Carol’s a fighter pilot???

It’s a little more than that:


Captain Marvel has been heavily financed by the US airforce, and there are multiple trailers that have been produced in the run-up to release featuring the cast and crew talking glowingly about the airforce and the consultation process.


Damn, I didn’t know about that. Eat your heart out, Maverick.

Do people actually go out and sign up for the military after watching an action movie?

The idea of a “objective review” is extremely frustrating to me because the whole point of a review is to be a subjective report of the films quality. There’s no such thing as an objective assessment of quality because quality is subjective. A major part of this is also the volume of films critics often watch changes their tastes. This is the exact problem with games criticism, too. This disparity is usually wielded by certain parties as evidence of how the games journalism industry is a secret cabal of corporate shills and pretentious Leftists.

Though maybe I’m biased in this because, ya know, I would pick The Favourite 9 times out of 10 over any Marvel movie


Do people go out an buy a beats pill after seeing it in a music video? Well, if they didn’t then Beats wouldn’t spend that money.

Marketing is about more than cost-per-acquisition though. It’s about maintaining and projecting a brand into the minds of the audience and creating positive associations. Whatever the air force has spent on Captain Marvel, it’ll be a bargain relative to the SEO metrics alone, if not actual recruitment numbers.


Oh yikes. This just strengthens my resolve to skip it when it comes out. Thanks for the info!


It’s less about “this will make 18-year-olds sign up for the Air Force” and more about the fact that superheroes are supposed to be role models, and a key aspect of this role model’s backstory is her involvement in the Air Force. How many little kids have dreamed of being Batman or Superman or Wonder Woman? I’m sure there’ll be plenty of young girls idolizing Captain Marvel the same way, and while they can’t be Captain Marvel, they can be the next “best” thing: an Air Force pilot.


Which part of the audience? Do you agree with the 34% of the audience who didn’t like First Man (and are obviously wrong in their believe) or the 66% of the audience who liked it? Can you agree with the 66% of the audience who liked it, while disagreeing with the 94% of critics who liked it (that seems a neat trick)? Is it possible that you’re misinterpreting what the rottentomatoes.* score represents?


The difference between games and movies is investment. A hour and a half of watching some dumbasses make a ford mustang drift has a lot less effort for me than trying to make a mustang drift in a game. Seriously though, watching a movie takes a lot less effort and time on my end. With this smaller investment, I’m a little, probably a lot, more forgiving of it’s faults. Games are a medium I have to feel. I have to work at it and sink a lot more time into it. I have to live with a game. I guess what I’m saying is that, when looking at an aggregate like rotten tomatoes for movies, I’m just looking to see what the consensus is. When I’m looking at games, I go to reviews of people I like, trust, or agree with most of the time on that type of game.

As for football, I’m somewhat interested in the politics of it but don’t really care about the sport itself. I’m just interested in the treatment of players and the wasting of public money on new stadiums. I am also a little intrigued as to how, known piece of trash, Vince McMahon will make the sport worse.

I’m almost definitely going to see Captain Marvel, I’ll probably enjoy it, and it’s warm relationship with the airforce will probably be problematic af. I’ve made peace with the tension that exists there. Marvel movies are just an opportunity for me to shut off the more critical parts of my brain and enjoy a big, shiny spectacle for two hours. The bigger issue, I think, is the way all these anodyne depictions of the military bleed together and seep into public consciousness. I doubt anyone’s going to walk out of Captain Marvel and immediately sign up for the airforce, but the military absolutely does rely on the sanitized version of itself that Hollywood presents to make its recruiting pitch that much easier.

As for the review-bombing angle, I find audience ratings on Rotten Tomatoes about as helpful as user ratings on Metacritic. Which is to say I don’t. The majority of the time they’re just a kneejerk reaction to the critical reception (which is skewed in its own way, but that’s another discussion) and the pool of people leaving these ratings aren’t representative of general audiences. I’m much more likely to pay attention individuals and outlets that I’ve become familiar with over a long period of time, and whose tastes I know are in line with my own. For example, Vampyr is a game I probably wouldn’t play based on its critical reception, but I’ve seen enough discussion of it, here and elsewhere, to know that I’d probably enjoy it.

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Hell fucking yes they do. The US Navy had something like 50,000 extra people walk in wanting to become Naval Aviators in the year after Top Gun came out. Air Force had a big jump too.

Rotten Tomatoes scores are useless and audience scores are doubly useless. Maybe I’m just a movie snob but I generally prefer to decide whether or not I like a movie myself, by watching it. If I’m not sure, I have some critics that I read where I have developed an understanding of the relationship between my tastes and theirs. A statistical average is meaningless, especially when it’s transparently wrong as hell.


And not to put too fine a point on it, Captain Marvel seems to be gesturing hard at Top Gun. I mean, they changed the cat’s name to Goose from Chewbacca!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to the movie as well. And I do think the Top Gun references are fun nods to an iconic movie. But let’s not kid ourselves that this type of thing does not contribute to the mythologizing of the American military machine.

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I’ve always wondered how much, like, Stargate SG-1 might’ve affected recruitment. I absolutely loved that show growing up - I’ve watched it all the way through… probably three times :grimacing: - but it can’t really be denied that it paints the US Air Force in a flattering light, the occasional corrupt colonel aside.

One of the reasons the military is featured predominantly in American films is definitely propaganda, but also…

Producers are happy to feature positive representations of the American armed forces, because the Pentagon gives them a FANTASTIC discount on equipment and extras.

The decision of which film to sponsor and provide support to, and which to avoid, is made in a small two person entertainment office within the Pentagon. It’s in this office that scripts are read, comments are offered, suggestions are made, and revised scripts are re-read. Films that portray the military in a positive light are often given a green light, while films that are critical of the military or the wars it fights, are, unsurprisingly, not given a green light.

I need a documentary on these two dudes, “Hey, is this scene where Jake Gyllenhaal is threatening a fellow marine with a loaded rifle while screaming like a mad man REPRESENT US in a positive light?”

This part is hilarious to me:

Sometimes, the decision of whether or not to support a film isn’t so clear cut … Independence Day did not. What distinguished the latter two films as being not worthy of Pentagon support? In Independence Day, it was that Will Smith’s Navy pilot character was dating a stripper, which was considered inconsistent with military ethics.


I think the most extreme example of this may still be Apocalypse Now which was denied support not because the main antagonist was an insane colonel but because the explicit goal of Martin Sheen’w character was to “terminate, with extreme prejudice”.

Coppola refused to change that aspect of the script, so he had to rely on the Philippine’s armed forces, which kept getting pulled away from shooting because the country was in the middle of a civil war.

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