Although early reactions to the new Marvel movie “Black Panther” have been almost universally stellar, there are some critics who not only disliked the film ― they’re looking to sabotage it.
And now the rightful king of Wakanda, director Ryan Coogler, is responding.
A Facebook group called Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and Its Fanboys, whose moderator describes himself as “alt-right,” recently announced its plans to intentionally tank “Black Panther’s” Rotten Tomatoes score once the movie starts showings on Feb. 15.
Last year, the same group claimed to use bots to take down the score for “The Last Jedi,” which is now around 48 percent despite a critics’ score above 90.
On Thursday, we asked Coogler for his thoughts on the group’s threat against “Black Panther.” The director hadn’t heard about Down With Disney, but he didn’t seem fazed when we explained it.
“For me, I’m looking forward to everybody seeing the film,” Coogler said. “I’m really looking forward to sharing the film with audiences regardless of what their political views are … that’s kind of where I [stand on that].”
Asked about his thoughts on Rotten Tomatoes ratings in general, Coogler said, “It … can be an oversimplification of what critics are saying about a movie. It’s quicker to look at the consensus than it is to read the articles. But I’m a person who definitely respects film criticism and draws on it in the filmmaking process.”
HuffPost previously messaged the self-identified alt-right moderator of Down With Disney, who told us his chief complaints with “The Last Jedi” revolved around its “feminist agenda.” He claimed Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is a “victim of the anti-mansplaining movement” and that Poe and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) are in danger of being “turn[ed]” gay.
Following its proclaimed “success” in its campaign against “The Last Jedi” ― and “the sudden rise in those disgruntled with Disney business practices” ― Down With Disney created a Facebook event explaining its qualms with “Black Panther.” They include “corporate manipulations which created falsified bad press for the DCEU (DC Extended Universe)” among its reasons.
“It’s time to strike back at all those under Disney and bring down the house of mouse’s actions for paying off the critics that hurt DC Comics on film and for other parties affected by them,” states the description of the event.
The moderator also said that he will be making similar events for “Infinity War” and unspecified Netflix shows to “rally together to truly make a difference.”
“If you want to spread spoilers to Marvel fanboys, use this event as a platform to inform us of targets!”
At the time of this post, 3,700 people were attending the Down With Disney “Black Panther” event and 1,900 more were interested. However, the group appears to have run into some problems, because a link to the event now goes to an error page.
Representatives of Rotten Tomatoes previously denounced the page’s claims that bots attacked “The Last Jedi” score, telling us, “There’s nothing unusual in the behavior” of reviewers. “The only thing that we’re seeing is people are really passionate and they’re taking time to actually post reviews.”
Down With Disney maintains that the negative reviews are a result of bots it deployed.
Rotten Tomatoes also recently gave a statement to The Wrap condemning hate speech and promising to block those participating in it:
We at Rotten Tomatoes are proud to have become a platform for passionate fans to debate and discuss entertainment and we take that responsibility seriously. While we respect our fans’ diverse opinions, we do not condone hate speech. Our team of security, network and social experts continue to closely monitor our platforms and any users who engage in such activities will be blocked from our site and their comments removed as quickly as possible.
It remains to be seen what effect, if any, there will be on the “Black Panther” audience score. Regardless, if early reviews are to be believed, audiences are still going to leave saying, “Wakanda forever!”