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“Batman v Superman” and the Declining Impact of Movie Critics

By Thomas Gillen
Assistant A&E Editor

Throughout the history of cinema, movies that have been destroyed by critics have often ended up making hundreds of millions of dollars due to the support from fans. With the popularity of websites like Rotten Tomatoes, it’s easy for audiences to find out how well received a movie is. On Rotten Tomatoes, film reviews are collected and the percentage of positive reviews are calculated. The resulting calculation lists the movie as either “Fresh,” having a high percent of positive reviews, or “Rotten,” having a low percent of positive reviews. One of the most popular movie franchises to gain support from fans, despite low review scores, is the “Transformers” franchise. Since coming to the big screen in 2007, the franchise has grossed almost $3.8 billion, even though the highest a movie in the series has placed on Rotten Tomatoes is 57 percent.

The recently released “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” is an example of this phenomenon and was designed to introduce audiences to DC’s cinematic universe, also known as DCEU. The DCEU is DC’s answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where all DC characters exist in the same universe and interact with each other on screen. After 2013’s “Man of Steel” failed to establish the DCEU, it was up to “Batman v Superman” to create a believable world while satisfying the high expectations of the fans. Unfortunately, a week before its release, negative reviews started appearing online and things did not look good for the highly anticipated film.

Rotten Tomatoes collected some harsh reviews. “In the end, ‘Batman v Superman’ is a tiresome, ill-tempered film, and one too lazy even to earn its dismal outlook,” wrote Christopher Orr in the Atlantic. “The studio has, in the usual way, begged and bullied critics not to reveal plot points, and I wouldn’t dream of denying you the thrill of discovering just how overstuffed and preposterous a movie narrative can be,” wrote A.O. Scott, the film critic for the New York Times. According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Batman v Superman” has 90 fresh reviews and 211 rotten ones for a total score of 29 percent. Yet, despite this less than stellar score, the movie broke numerous records at the box office since it opened on March 25.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” steamrolled past records, debuting at a gargantuan $170.1 million over Easter weekend despite being pilloried by critics, according to Brent Lang on That ranks as the top opening weekend for a DC Comics film, the best March launch ever, and the sixth-biggest domestic opening weekend of all-time, he noted. It is clear that fans were not deterred by the negative reviews, as “Batman v Superman” has passed over $700 million at the box office.

Like many fans, I enjoyed “Batman v Superman” even though there were problems with the story and it spent too much time setting up for the future “Justice League” movies instead of focusing on the conflict between Batman and Superman. While most of my favorite movies are critically acclaimed, such as “The Dark Knight” and “The Lord of the Rings,” I do enjoy a lot of movies that were not looked on favorably by movie critics. One of the prime examples of this is “Van Helsing,” starring Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale. Even though it made almost $300 million worldwide, it scored a 23 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite this low score, I enjoy “Van Helsing” for what it is and can’t help but watch it whenever it is on TV.

“Batman v Superman” was never going to be the best superhero movie of the year and nor should it have been. It had to compete with several other superhero movies including “Deadpool,” which became the highest grossing R rated movie of all time; “Suicide Squad,” another DC movie that features characters such as the Joker and Harley Quinn; “XMen Apocalypse,” and two highly anticipated Marvel movies in “Doctor Strange” and “Captain America: Civil War.” It was never going to reach the heights of “The Dark Knight” trilogy or debut to critical acclaim. It’s a movie designed to please fans and to satisfy their dreams of finally seeing Batman and Superman fight on the big screen with the formation of the Justice League about to begin.

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