After seeing Suicide Squad this weekend, I wanted to write a piece about Rotten Tomatoes. I read the reviews posted by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, which tempered any expectations that I had for the movie. It appeared that WB wanted to use Suicide Squad in the same way that Fox used Deadpool. A brash action comedy that helps launch their respective movie-verse. Whereas Deadpool was an undisputed success, Suicide Squad was met with mixed results. The critics lambasted it with a 26% rating. However, as of this morning, the audience gave the movie a 68% and it raked in over $575 million dollars.
This got me thinking about a conspiracy theory that I have heard pretty regularly about the Disney/Marvel corporate offices. The theory says that Marvel/Disney pay critics a kick back to give their movies good reviews regardless of the movies' actual content. Further, the theory states that Disney/Marvel pay critics to review WB/DC movies poorly. At first glance this theory seems ridiculous, but it keeps popping up in message boards and in conversation.
So I went to the numbers to look at the data and found some interesting, but far from conclusive results. First I created a list of comic book movies whose source material was from Marvel or DC Comics, not including their independent branches. I went back to 1998, when Blade came out. Blade looks like it was the first comic book movie, which did not feature Batman or Superman, which did relatively well. I also included a few Disney movies, based on comic books or comic bookish in nature, in order to see if their number varied from their Disney Marvel venture. Here are the results for each studio.
Fox – The biggest difference between critics' reviews and audience reviews were for X-Men: Apocalypse, a 23% difference. Twice a movie was rated higher by critics than Audiences, X2 and Daredevil, never thought I would write that sentence. The lowest rated movie was Fantastic Four with a dismal 9%, tied with Catwoman as the lowest movie on this list. The highest rated movie was X-Men Days of Future Past with a 91%.
Disney/Marvel – The biggest difference between critic's reviews and audience reviews were for Thor: The Dark World, 11% difference. There was one instance a movie was rated higher by critics than Audiences. The lowest rated movie was Thor: The Dark World with a 61% and the highest rated movie was Guardians of the Galaxy with a 91%.
Marvel – The biggest difference between critics' reviews and audience reviews were for The Incredible Hulk, a 4% difference. Three out of their five movies were rated higher by critics than by audiences and once they were rated the same. Their lowest rated movie was Incredible Hulk at 67% and the highest rated movie was Iron Man with an impressive 94%, tied with Batman: The Dark Knight for the highest rated comic book movie on this list.
Universal – Universal has only produced The Hulk. The Hulk was rated significantly higher by critics than by audiences, a whopping 32% better. This is the biggest rating gap, where the critics liked the movie better than the audiences.
DC/WB – The biggest difference between critic's reviews and audience reviews were for Suicide Squad, a 42% difference, followed by Batman v. Superman with a 38% difference. These two movies are by far the biggest difference in rating between Critics and Audiences. Only one movie was rated higher by critics than by audiences, Superman Returns, which is a little surprising. Their lowest rated movie was Catwoman at 9%, tied with Fantastic Four for the lowest rated comic book movie on this list. The highest rated movie was Batman: The Dark Knight with an impressive 94%, tied with Iron Man for the highest rated comic book movie on this list.
Sony – The biggest difference between critic's reviews and audience reviews were for Spider-Man wherein the critics liked it 22% better than audiences tied with Ghost Rider where audiences liked it 22% better. Three out of their six movies were rated higher by critics than by audiences, all three Spider-Men. Their lowest rated movie was Ghost Rider at 17% and the highest rated movie was Spider-Man 2 at 93%.
New Line Cinemas – The biggest difference between critic's reviews and audience reviews were for Blade Trinity a 36% difference, which happened to be their lowest rated movie at 24%. Their highest rated movie was Blade 2 at 57%.
Lionsgate – The biggest difference between critic's reviews and audience reviews were for Punisher a 34% difference, which happens to be their highest rated movie. Their lowest rated movie is Punisher: War Zone, which received 27%.
Disney – The biggest difference between critic's reviews and audience reviews were for Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time, a 22% difference. Their lowest rated movie was the Lone Ranger at 31% and their highest rated movie was Tron: Legacy tied with John Carter at 51%.
In conclusion, it appears that the theory that Marvel/Disney is paying off critics to review their movies better than they should be and give negative reviews to movies that are not made by them, does not hold up. It appears that after the Marvel Disney merger in 2009, they were getting the same marks as before the merger. Additionally, Disney movies that came out under the Disney brand that were incredibly big budgets movies did not seem to fare well with critics.
6 Random Thoughts
1. I do find it interesting that the two biggest gaps between critics and audiences happen to be DCU's two newest movies that are trying to compete with the MCU.
2. Marvel/Disney's worst critic rated movie is Thor: The Dark World at 66%, better than Lionsgate, New Line and Universal's best critic rated movies.
3. I find it funny that Suicide Squad, Green Lantern and Ghost Rider all have a critic review of 26%.
4. Batman Begins and Deadpool both are rated at 84%. Does that mean that Deadpool 2 will be as good as Batman the Dark Knight?
5. Spider-Man 3 is rated better by critics than Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad.
6. Marvel/Disney have no stinkers, Fantastic Four, Daredevil & Catwoman I'm looking at you.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating as of 8/26/2016
X-Men: Apocalypse C 48% Aud 71%
Deadpool C 84% Aud 91%
Fantastic Four C 9% Aud 19%
X-Men: Days of Future Past C 91% Aud 91%
The Wolverine C 69% Aud 69%
X-Men: First Class C 86% Aud 87%
X-Men: Wolverine Origins: C 38% Aud 59%
X-Men: Last Stand C 58% Aud 62%
X2 X-Men United C 86% Aud 85%
X-Men C 81% Aud 83%
Fantastic Four C 27% Aud 45%
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer C 37% Aud 51%
Daredevil C 44% Aud 35%
Elektra C 10% Aud 30%
CA3 C 90% Aud 90%
Antman C 81% Aud 86%
Avengers2 C 75% Aud 84%
GOTG C 91% Aud 92%
CA2 C 89% Aud 92%
Thor 2 C 66% Aud 77%
IM3 C 79% Aud 79%
Avengers C 92% Aud 91%
CA C 80% Aud 74%
Thor C 77% Aud 76%
IM2 C 72% Aud %72
The Incredible Hulk C 67% Aud 71% (Universal was involved)
IM C 94% Aud 91%
Hulk C 61% Aud 29%
Suicide Squad C 26% Aud 68%
Batman v. Superman C 27% Aud 65%
Man of Steel C 55% Aud 75%
GL C 26% – Aud 45%
Jonah Hex C 12% Aud 20%
Batman: TDKR C 87% Aud 90%
Batman The Dark Knight C 94% Aud 94%
Batman Begins: 84% Aud 94%
Superman Returns C 76% Aud 61%
Catwoman C 9% Aud 18%
ASM C 73% Aud: 77%
ASM2 C 52% Aud 65%
Spiderman C 89% Aud 67%
Spiderman 2 C 93% Aud 81%
Spiderman 3 C63% Aud 51%
Ghost Rider C 26% Aud 48%
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance C 17% Aud 32%
New Line Cinemas
Blade C 54% Aud 78%
Blade 2 C 57% Aud 68%
Blade Trinity C24% Aud 59%
Punisher C 29% Aud 63%
Punisher: War Zone C 27% Aud 42%
Tron: Legacy C: 51% Aud 53%
John Carter C 51% Aud 60%
Prince of Persia C 36% Aud 58%
The Lone Ranger C 31% Aud 51%