With Captain Marvel opening higher, further and faster than any female-led film in history, it seems safe to say that the efforts of various trolls to sabotage the movie's success have failed miserably. Yet there is an irony in that failure, both in how they managed to showcase their ignorance of Carol Danvers' character and what she represents in general and in how they attempted to promote Alita: Battle Angel - a movie even more antithetical to their stated values - over Captain Marvel.
The stated reasons behind the trolls' efforts to wreck Captain Marvel's opening weekend are as wide and varied as the tactics utilized in accomplishing that end. Angry YouTube videos complaining of Brie Larson being a man-hater and Tweets of alleged insider sources claiming that Larson had been fired from Avengers: Endgame ran wild in the weeks leading up to Captain Marvel's release. The effort to "review-bomb" aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes resulted in the site removing users' ability to rate or comment on movies before their official release date. YouTube took similar steps to change their search metrics, so as to stop trolls from dominating the searches for videos relating to Captain Marvel.
Perhaps the most prominent of these efforts was spearheaded by Jack Posobiec, a self-described "political operative" most famous for his role in the efforts to see James Gunn fired from Disney. Posobiec posted a video to his Twitter account, encouraging his followers to take part in the #AlitaChallenge and see Alita: Battle Angel during Captain Marvel's opening weekend, declaring"we’re gonna stop giving money to people who hate us." (Curiously, Posobeic had previously complained of Alita: Battle Angel putting him to sleep, in a deleted tweet).
Presumably the intent behind promoting Alita: Battle Angel over Captain Marvel was to pit two science-fiction themed movies with female leads and feminist themes against one another as proof that their hatred wasn't of women specifically, just of Brie Larson. There is a deep irony, however, in a right-wing movement promoting Alita, given that the film's core ideals are far more progressive in tone and diametrically opposed to the beliefs of American conservatives like Posobiec than those presented in Captain Marvel. The original manga that inspired Alita: Battle Angel is famed for its environmental and populist themes, as Alita fights against a corrupt elite of wealth-hoarding plutocrats, who live in luxury above the Earth they have all but destroyed with the waste from their city in the sky. By contrast, Captain Marvel offers perhaps the most idealized view of American military pilots since Top Gun, featuring two pilots and a secret agent with a military background single-handedly stopping an alien invasion of Earth.
Before the weekend was halfway over, it became clear that the boycotts and the review bombs were a bust, with Captain Marvel having scored the second-highest March movie premiere on a Thursday night in history. Despite this, Posobiec doubled-down and somehow managed to further embarrass himself and his movement. In a desperate attempt to appeal to older comic book fans, Posobeic sent out another tweet, suggesting that Stan Lee would not approve of Captain Marvel and the latest batch of MCU movies.
This effort was rightly roasted by Stan Lee's friends and followers, who pointed out the deep irony making such a claim about Lee, who's known for his outspoken liberalism. Posobiec was also mocked for his apparent ignorance that Stan Lee's death was not so long ago that he was ignorant as to what Marvel Films was doing with his creations in their most recent movies. Indeed, Lee had visited the set of Captain Marvel to film one of his famous cameo appearances and was reportedly pleased by the efforts to bring Carol Danvers to life.
While the intentions of these trolls can be debated, one thing seems clear in the wake of their failure - there is no profit to be found in studios lending an ear to online trolls. The record-setting crowds lining up to see Captain Marvel compared to the more modest gains made by Alita: Battle Angel over the past weekend are proof of that. With any luck, these individuals will find some more wholesome and profitable way to spend their time.