Angry Man Tears: The Captain Marvel Edition

Man, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything fangirl-related on this blog.  Last August I came to the realization that I’d wasted so much time reviewing The 100 for 3 seasons that I’ve been put off from ever wanting to review anything again.  I’ve even had a few urges to delete every 100 review I’ve ever written, for fear that some poor unsuspecting noob will come across them and be totally misled.  Sigh.  I guess from now on, the safest bet is to review a) movies and b) TV shows that have already finished airing, so you can be certain they won’t shit the bed later.  As for The 100, I suppose I at least managed to provide some people with some good laughs and catharsis as we all came to the terrible realization of what a sadistic asswipe Jason Rothenberg truly is.

Anywho.  Since then I’ve joined many The 100 refugees and binged Queen of the South (USA) and 12 Monkeys (SyFy).  The beauty of 12 Monkeys is that it finished its 4-season run in 2018, so I could be guaranteed before watching that it was a known quantity to everyone who’d recommended it to me.  And I’m glad they did – I normally hate time travel stories, but what a thoroughly entertaining, thoughtful and heartfelt little show it was.  I’ve quite enjoyed Queen of the South too, but it’s 3 seasons in and still has more seasons to come, so it still has the potential to go off the rails at some point.  Fingers crossed it doesn’t go haywire.

So here we are now in late Feb/early March 2019, and Captain Marvel is the next big MCU flick due to hit the big screen.  Lady superhero movies are so rare that I’m always excited and hopeful any time a new one is due out.  And no, I don’t count the ensemble flicks where the female superheroes play second and third fiddle.  I’m talking about the ones where they are the titular character – the HBIC.  The last one of these we got was 2 years ago with Wonder Woman.  And before that it was … uhhhh … errr … Supergirl in 1984?  I honestly don’t even know.  Oh right, eek, Catwoman.  Oh shit, Elektra!  Aggh.  This is starting to make me wonder if there literally has ever been a quality lady superhero movie before Wonder Woman.  I think no?  Suffice it to say, there’s a ton riding on Captain Marvel at this point.  We’re in dire need of Good Lady Superhero Movie #2 in the extremely short history of lady superhero movies.

It has thankfully been a decent few years for representation in general, with Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in 2018, not to mention the impossibly sexy Jason Momoa getting his own starring vehicle with Aquaman.  Still, as an example:  Since MCU‘s inception in 2008 with Iron Man, it took them 18 movies to finally make one about Black superheroes/characters (DC still has yet to make one) and 21 movies to finally make one focusing on a lady.  But, progress!  I hope … finally.

Yet here we are on the cusp of Lady Superhero Movie #2 (of the last decade) being released, and the insecure MRA/incel/MAGA corner of the fanboy world is still as fragile as ever.  Maybe even more fragile at this point, as they’ve been triggered so much lately with the increase in non-straight-white-dude entertainment, our volatile political environment, ladies running for president, the #MeToo movement, Black Lives Matter, etc. etc. etc.  Women and PoC and LGBT folks sure do seem to be encroaching on white cishet dudes’ way of life lately.  It must be scary and uncomfortable for them.  Bless their feeble hearts.

Btw, a little clarification or disclaimer before I continue: In this blog post I’m going to use terms like “fanboys”, “white dudes”, “bros”, etc. for shorthand, but I want to be clear that this post only focuses on that sad subset of straight dudes out there who are insecure and feel easily threatened by women, PoC, and LGBT folks.  These are the type of guys who are very likely to purchase a MAGA hat and feel most at home participating in movements like GamerGate.  I’m always relieved to also see many guys out there who are nice and secure in their manhood and thus are enthusiastically supportive of movements and entertainment that don’t center them.  This post only focuses on that smaller subset of woeful guys/fanboys who have a chip on their shoulder and rage about it.

The release of Wonder Woman was a trying time for these sad boys to be sure, but WW had a slight advantage in that the character (the modern-day movie version) was introduced in Batman vs. Superman, a more comfortable setting for our sensitive guys.  She was more of a known quantity.  I think WW’s other key advantage is that other than general “girl power rah rah” stuff, lead actress Gal Gadot stayed pretty apolitical in the promotion of the movie.

But we live in a time where every year, every month, every day is more trying than the previous.  Brie Larson, who won the Best Actress Oscar for Room in 2016, got the pleasure of presenting the Best Actor Oscar to known creep/harasser Casey Affleck in 2017.  She was put in a tough position there, and while most actors would have played nice for the cameras in this situation, Brie made it clear in that moment that she was not cool with going that route.  She was polite, but aloof in a way that made it apparent how she felt.  I was impressed by how she handled it.

Since then I believe Brie has also been involved in the Time’s Up movement.  The girl is out there and she’s speaking her mind.  And she’s been using her platform to push for diverse voices to be invited to the table in the making and marketing of this film.  She’s pushing for progress and she’s entirely uninterested in making the Delicate White Boys’ Club feel comfy or coddled.

And I’m starting to realize that this is a major key to whether a female-led movie in a typical guy genre will be allowed to sneak through BroTown PD’s checkpoints relatively peacefully, or whether it’ll cause the bros to lose their shit and do everything in their power to destroy it.  Losing their shit, btw, usually involves coordinated attempts to dampen the movie’s success by convincing the world that it sucks, via the following avenues:

  • Writing negative comments everywhere they possibly can on the internet
  • Making angry YouTube videos about the movie’s supposed suckage
  • “Review-bombing” on Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB, Amazon … any sites that allow and aggregate user reviews.  If there’s anything I learned from the Lexa debacle on The 100 season 3, it’s that a small but extremely angry and dedicated group of people can really bring down the average user rating for movies and TV show episodes.  If you’ve got a couple thousand angry people with a lot of time on their hands to deploy multiple fake accounts, you can drop an average user rating like a rock.

“Why the hell would anyone do this??” you may ask.  In the case of The 100 it was primarily teens, who just inherently have a) a lot of time on their hands and b) not the best judgement on what is a worthwhile use of their time.  But in the case of movies like Captain Marvel, it’s grown men, presumably with some sort of adult lives and responsibilities and jobs.  Which takes it into sad, pathetic, creepy, unnerving territory.  If you, as an adult, are spending any decent amount of your time losing your shit on the internet about a movie with a lady and/or some Black people or whatever, something has gone seriously wrong in your life.

So which movies cause this furor and which ones manage to contain the anger to a medium simmer instead?  I’m sitting here racking my brain trying to remember if there was significant review-bombing of Wonder Woman, and while I definitely do recall man-whining, its audience score of 88% on RT indicates that it wasn’t a major target from this angle.  OH! I just got reminded of the all-lady screening that happened at one point and definitely caused online male outrage.  So yes, there was male bellyaching, but it didn’t get quite to the point of these guys trying to burn WW to the ground.  And I am pretty damn sure that the reason WW managed to just squeak by can be mainly attributed to Gal Gadot and the filmmakers not doing anything in the making or promotion of the film to step too hard on fragile male toes.

Black Panther did have review-bombing in the beginning I’m pretty sure – Its audience score on RT is 79%, which isn’t bad but should be far higher for such an amazing comic book movie.  Captain America: Civil War, by comparison, is at 89%.  I definitely remember snowflakey white people being super miffed that BP was so un-apologetically Black, with a Black director and starring mostly Black actors.  Which is of course hysterically greedy, given that the vast majority of movies in the history of movies have been made for/by white people.  Luckily, there were SO many other people out there who were sooo ready for this milestone and the awesomeness of Black Panther that the thing was an absolute juggernaut – So much so that the whiney white people tears were no match for its massive success.

For the sake of this post, I’m going to focus on lady movies and think back to which of these have sparked the most online outrage over the past few years, such that the pattern starts to become obvious:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015:
    • Complaint: “The lady is upstaging the man!!  The star of this movie series is Max, not Furiosa!”
    • RT: The RT audience score on this is fine, but I think this was before review-bombing was quite so much of a thing.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens, 2015:
    • Complaint: “Rey is a Mary Sue!!  It’s unrealistic, a girl can’t be that good at so many things!  Ridiculous!”
    • Complaint: I know I’m focusing on the lady stuff in this list but this was also very relevant: “It has a … black guy!?”  Dude, please please correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember the negative reactions from the first couple TFA trailers literally just being, “The male lead is black and I don’t like it.” Was there more to it that I’m forgetting? I feel like it was just blatant, straight-up racism without any cover.
    • RT: This one sparked endless YouTube videos and angry internet postings, but didn’t quite hit the RT-bombing zone.
  • Ghostbusters, 2016:
    • Complaint: “This is my favorite movie from when I was a kid and now it’s girls!?  WTF??  Why would they ruin my childhood with GIRLS??”
    • RT audience score: 51%.  Review-bombing was definitely starting to become a thing here, and this movie was just decent/o.k. quality-wise, so it cracked easily under the weight of angry dude reviews.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi, 2017:
    • Jesus, where do I start?  I feel like this was where RT review-bombing really became a full-fledged attack vector.  Its audience score of 44% paired with its critic score of 91% shows a clear targeted effort.  “My childhood hero Luke Skywalker has been ruined, and all so they could waste so much time on the Asian girl and the Black guy doing nothing important!!  And the Admiral lady was annoying!  SJW GARBAGE!!”

And to dig into this phenomenon further, look at the progression of angry dude reactions from Star Wars: The Force Awakens to Star Wars: The Last JediBoth films were very well-received by critics.  Both of them had a lot of insecure fanboy  backlash.  Both of them starred the same white “Mary Sue” girl and black guy.  But a corner was turned between the two movie releases in terms of the level and the malignancy of the outrage.  With Force Awakens they complained incessantly, to be sure.  But with Last Jedi, they turned a corner into wanting to burn down the entire franchise.  So what changed?  What set them into complete meltdown mode?

The level of male outrage seems to be directly proportional to the level of force with which each of these movies stepped on fragile straight white guy toes.  With TFA Rey annoyed them by being good at too many things and Finn annoyed them by being … uhh … Black … but beyond that, she and Finn didn’t do too much to threaten the white fanboys’ favorite storylines/heroes.  TFA didn’t take any of their faves “out of character,” or take any of the storylines in too weird a direction – i.e. The two non-white-male leads managed to exist in the movie without crossing too many white boy lines.  It all translated to maybe a medium step on white boy toes.  So we got online bitching and moaning, but they weren’t trying to burn the entire thing down just yet.

The same can be said for Rogue One, which, being a prequel, could exist without fucking too much up for the delicate fanboys.  Then when Last Jedi came along the escalation probably started with a slight cumulative effect:  After dealing with ladies and non-white guys in two Star Wars movies in a row, the situation was becoming precarious.  So white fanboys didn’t need a whole lot to go wrong in Last Jedi in order for the entire house of cards to come tumbling down.  And boy, did it tumble.  Add an Asian chick with a decent amount of screentime and fuck up their Luke Skywalker headcanon (an unthinkable sin as it turns out), and hoooo boy that is IT.  White boy toes have been stomped.  The camel’s back is snapped in two.

To touch on the other movies above as well, Fury Road fucked with Max’s manly influence and screentime, leaving him somewhat neutered by Furiosa in the fanboys’ eyes.  Triggering.  And Ghostbusters ruined the fanboys’ childhood memories of their favorite movie(s) by replacing them with girls.  Toes were crunched thoroughly.

And now we’ve got Captain Marvel, with Brie Larson mercilessly taking a sledgehammer to white cishet comic fanboy toes left and right.  Her insistence on bringing more female and PoC journalists to participate in press junkets translates in their minds to “I won’t allow white men to interview me and I don’t even want them to see this movie!”  She doesn’t smile enough in the trailers or promo pics.  Her voice is too girly for a superhero.  And to make matters worse, she’s set to probably be a major key to defeating Thanos in Avengers: Endgame.  She’s not just confining her SJDub villainy to her own movie, she’s bringing it into their dudely MCU territory as well.  She’s infecting the Avengers with her SJW plague.  It’s really an absolute nightmare for them.

Haha, it’s almost hilarious the extent to which Captain Marvel is fucking with these guys – She’s even icing the cake by releasing her movie a month before Shazam and “stealing” what was apparently Shazam’s original name in the comic decades ago, so even the DC fanboys are triggered.  It’s possible the DC boys may be the angriest ones out there at this point; I’m not entirely sure.

With all this said, it will not surprise you to find out that this was what Captain Marvel‘s audience “Want to See” rating looked like before Rotten Tomatoes finally threw their hands up in the air and disabled the thing last week:

I managed to catch this right before Rotten Tomatoes finally decided to change this illogical audience rating system, which was stupid and completely vulnerable to abuse.  The interface/functionality makes no sense – You can see above that before a movie has been released, you can tell RT whether you want to see it, or you’re not interested, or you want to … add a rating?  For a movie that no one except official press members has even seen yet?  How?  Why would they allow people to review a movie they haven’t seen?  Of course trolls are going to abuse this feature.  And sure enough, here is just a tiny sample of what the audience “reviews” looked like for Captain Marvel before they were taken down:

I mean, Christ.  Can you imagine women ever banding together to try to destroy a movie made about a man who imposes his manliness on us and offends our womanly senses?  We would literally have to spend our entire lives doing this because we’d have to do it for practically every action movie ever made.  It’s preposterous, but when the manbabies do it it works, because a thousand articles were written about the fact that Captain Marvel‘s audience score was being tanked before its release.  It got the broflakes the exact attention they wanted.

I’m glad RT has disabled this functionality for pre-release movies, as it does solve one issue, which is confusing normal people who lead reasonably healthy lives and don’t pay attention to this online idiocy, when they go to look at movie info and showtimes before its release.  Someone like this is likely to be confused by such a low score when they search a movie on RT.  What this does not solve is the fact that these pathetic sad man children are going to jump right back on their review-bombing the second the movie is released.  I’ve seen some great suggestions on how to solve this issue too though – limit the access to the rating feature to people who have actually purchased tickets for the movie through an app that can link to RT.  It’d be nice if sites like RT were smart enough to do this, to shut out the trolls.  I won’t hold my breath though.

Here are some more tragic white cishet dude tears for your viewing pleasure:

(All of these are angry dudes except Bryan Young, who is simply reporting the actions of angry dudes)

Etc etc etc, you get the idea.  Men are spending an inordinate amount of their lives being angry at a girl movie, generating a bazillion hours of YouTube videos to help stoke the outrage.  Sad!

So what will come of all of this, and will this movie even be good??  Jesus Christ, if the movie sucks after all this I will be really, reeaallly disappointed.  We have to wait 21 movies for MCU to finally make one about a girl, and when it finally does happen, we have to spend the entire lead-up to the movie enduring all the men hysterically screaming and raging about it in our faces.  Just like the 2016 election.  If the movie is then not even good after all that, it will …… be another typical day in the life of a woman.  Or a non-white person.  Or an LGBTQ person.  To speak as a woman, we’re totally used to it, but we’re also getting pretty fucking sick and tired of it.  So fingers and toes and everything else crossed, we’ll see what happens when the reviews (and the movie) finally get released this week.

In the meantime, please watch this absolutely perfect summation of everything I’ve been attempting to describe here:

Let’s all have a moment of silence for all the straight white men out there at this difficult time, to acknowledge their suffering from the girl movie.  Won’t anyone think of the white men?!  Someday, maybe someday.  Until then, their struggle continues.  Good luck boys, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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