Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t do well with critics, but was a giant hit with fans. The New Republic called it an “indigestible, posturing, two-and-a-half-hour mope-fest,” while Time Out blasted it, calling it “a $250 million tombstone for a genre in dire need of a break.”
In my written review I gave it an unenthusiastic two out of five star rating, describing it as “essentially a long trailer for the next DC superhero ensemble movie tagged on to a WrestleMania style smack down.” On my regular Canada AM review segment I joked it should have been subtitled Yawn of Justice.
About four seconds after I wrapped my television review the first of many tweets and facebook responses started cluttering up my social media pages. I’d detail them all individually, but most of them were variations on this one from Frank in Nova Scotia: “@RichardCrouse good thing #DawnOfJustice was made for fans and not critics. These are usually the good ones. Can’t wait to see it.”
I hope Frank liked the movie. I suspect he was part of the opening weekend’s overwhelmingly male demographic—66 percent of the audience were male, 63 percent between the ages of 18 and 34—who flocked to the film. Also, his twitter cover page shows Superman shooting lasers from his eyes at Batman. I imagine if he could find a picture of Supes blasting a critic he would have used that one instead.
Superhero movies tend to accentuate the divide between critics and fans and rarely has the gap been wider and deeper than it is in the reaction to Batman v Superman.
The thing is, there shouldn’t be a divide between professional moviegoers and fans. It’s not Criticman v Fandom or Us v Them. We share a love of story, characters and images on screen. We may express our opinions differently, but as Devin Faraci pointed out recently film critics are film critics because they are passionate about movies. Take Movies.com writer John Gholson for instance. In response to the blow back his negative review of the film received he tweeted, “If you think “I wanted to hate” BVS, you’re out of your mind and the reason I’m still upset days later is because I wanted to LOVE it.”
For sure there are critics who automatically dismiss superhero movies. Or romantic comedies, or whatever your favourite genre, but no one forces you to read them. Choose your favourite film critic like you would a friend, someone who shares your enthusiasms, or challenges them or whatever makes you happy. The point is no one is holding Batman’s grapple gun to your head making you read bad reviews of your fan favourites.
Better yet, take musician and social activist Jello Biafra’s advice. “Don’t hate the media,” he said, “become the media.” It’s never been easier to express yourself publicly, whether it’s on your own blog or social media but here’s a pro tip: go see the movie before sharing your thoughts.
Not that reviews or blogs were going to make a great deal of difference to Batman v Superman’s box office fate. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore nailed it when he said, “Reviews don’t matter. The Batsuit and Superman’s cape are made of Teflon.” The movie was review proof as evidenced by its 29 percent Tomatometer score compared to its massive $ $166.1 million North American take.