A history of the bombing and its roots in misogynism
Misogyny is a culture of violence against women. Whether the woman is black or brown, queer or trans, or dresses a certain way, her body is at the center of the hate. This particular phenomenon is found in literary translations and on public access sites like Twitter and movie sites like IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. Actresses in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in particular, have advanced the way women are portrayed in film and television. They followed the path traced by their ancestors by embodying characters who kick ass and are well dressed for the fight. Yet misogyny on public access sites persists, particularly in the form of attacks on criticism.
Review bombardment is a phenomenon where white male “fans” will deliberately leave a bad review of a project before its release. These phenomena are more common with female-centric superhero productions. The MCU is in a place where they’ve made great strides in diversity and representation, but they still have a long way to go to sustain their talent in the face of xenophobic and misogynistic backlash. Often these “fans” are upset that the show focuses on, in one instance, the struggles of a Muslim teenager from New Jersey or, in another, that Black Widow’s costume is fully zipped. Misogynistic comments and criticisms occur disproportionately when women are progressively centered.
History of exam bombs
Many of the MCU’s “early” projects have garnered fan reviews on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes. Ant-Man and the Wasp was the first MCU title to name a female lead. The majority of 1 star reviews are empty and baseless. Making a movie is an exhausting process with many hours spent choosing the best actors or actresses, which is why MCU movies stand out. Empty comments tend to undermine skilled actresses, like Evangeline Lilly, who easily portray smart, intelligent women.
Likewise, with Wanda Vision, the first MCU series on Disney+ and the first female-led MCU series, Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Wanda Maximoff, was able to flex her fun muscles and wide emotional range. Typically, when women direct comedy, their humor can be biting or disparaging, something Wanda Vision did not do. This change is not for those who rely on bullying to be funny. Finally, with The Eternals being the first MCU film to have diversity in multiple ways, it was another refreshing “first”. The film is more representative of the world in general. One thing is certain with crit bombings: they lack the substance they claim these projects lack. Jar, this is Kettle.
Roots in misogyny
The Verge explained how the review bombs reveal two disturbing reactions to films like Black Panther and Captain Marvel: films with more women and black or people of color are major targets. We Forum found that women are more sexualized if they lead or direct 56 films from five different countries and three continents. Additionally, UN Women has uncovered several troubling aspects of violence against women; in particular how 1 in 3 women, worldwide, have experienced physical and sexual violence from known and unknown men. The link between cinema and real life is found in the trope sex is violence: two people who fight physically will become physically intimate. Due to the severity of misogyny in Hollywood and real life, the MCU had to approach its first solo female superhero film differently.
When Brie Larson accepted the role of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, she revealed to The Nerds of Color: “I didn’t realize how [having the script written by women was] until I read it for the first time and realized little things, like there are little moments where I was like ‘oh, it’s always been like a hitch’ and things that I I had to fight. As Captain Marvel made progress, much to the dismay of male fans, the first teenage superheroine had to be just as out of this world. Iman Vellani, who portrays the lovely Kamala Khan in Mrs. Wonderadmitted on The Kelly Clarkson Show that she felt no pressure to be the MCU’s first Muslim superhero.
Impact on women’s films and television series
Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, is the MCU’s first superhero/spy. As one of the most tenured actresses in the MCU, Johansson has been subjected to gender issues, alongside her male co-stars being asked thoughtful questions. Although these interviews were conducted by professional media, the line between authors of misogynistic criticism and misogyny in the real world is virtually non-existent, especially when interviewers repeat misogynistic comments in interviews. One of the ways Marvel retaliated against Black Widow’s hyper-sexualization was to change her superhero costume. In an interview with Variety, costume designer Jany Temime discussed the costume design process for the cast of Black Widow. Front and center was the suit tailored to a woman’s real body, meaning comfort was key.
Just as Black Widow paved the way for subsequent female superheroes in the MCU, Jen Walters/She-Hulk, played by Tatiana Maslany, breaks the fourth wall in a refreshingly new way. Between his comments directly in front of the camera or his twerking with Megan Thee Stallion, She-Hulk adds more dimension to the way women are portrayed. Especially when she walks into the bathroom of a strange bar and a group of women help her wash. This scene is warm, safe and magical, but it almost didn’t happen. Lead writer Jessica Gao told Screen Rant, “I really had to fight for that scene because a lot of people didn’t understand why it was so important.” MCU projects centered around female superheroes are under attack from annoyed fans who leave blank comments because their fantasies aren’t being fulfilled. Each female superhero is an evolution, adding to the narrative created by their predecessors. It’s wonderful to be a witness.