For much of the past year, there’s been a bit of a groundswell among a small but vocal contingent of movie fans, who are angry at film critics for their perceived bias in favor of Marvel Studios’ movies over Warner Bros/DC’s. This has even manifested itself in a conspiracy theory, that movie critics are in fact being bribed by Marvel parent company Disney in order to praise Marvel films and trash DC ones.
If fans thought this groundswell would be disrupted by the release of the latest DC Extended Universe film, Suicide Squad, that appears to not be the case, considering early reviews of the film have been mostly negative. Now, certain DC fans have focused on a new target amidst the online movie culture: The website that aggregates critics’ reviews.
A petition was launched Tuesday on Change.org, just a few hours after the Suicide Squad embargo lifted, calling to “Shutdown Rotten Tomatoes.” Introduced by Abdullah Goldwater of Alexandria, Egypt, the petition states Rotten Tomatoes’ aggregation of “unjust bad reviews” for Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice have negatively impacted “people’s opinion” of these films.
The petition, as of this writing, has garnered 1,534 signatures of its current goal of 2,500 (this goal has been increased from 500 to 1,000 to 1,500 prior to the 2,500 goal). Should the petition reach its goal, it will be delivered to Rotten Tomatoes itself, which would be asked to voluntarily shut itself down. As of the first 56 reviews, Suicide Squad has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 34 percent, firmly placing it in the Rotten category.
Now, the creator of this petition is free to hold whatever views he wishes about Suicide Squad, about the relative strength of the DC and Marvel universes, and the merits of film critics. And this is true whether or not the author of the petition or any of its 1,534 signatories have yet seen the very film that they’re defending, which doesn’t arrive in theaters until Friday.
However, this petition, as well as the general idea among fans that film critics are conspiring against their favorite movies is based on a whole host of assumptions that are false: That film critics aren’t supposed to be biased; that any significant number of critics have especially strong leanings towards Marvel or DC in particular; that any movie studio would waste its money on bribes for critics; that Batman V Superman didn’t deserve its negative reviews; that critics have the power to hurt the box office performance of blockbuster movies. Additionally, though fans frustrated with the reviews of Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman may believe the shut down Rotten Tomatoes will help, it would simply eliminate the review aggregator, not the reviews themselves.
Suicide Squad is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash and Batman solo movie are currently without release dates.