Comic book fans, can’t we just get along? For as long as Marvel and DC have existed, so has their inherent rivalry. What started between the two publishers has carried over into movie adaptations, with the DCEU being the current underdog. It’s only natural for fans to be protective over their favorite characters and movie opinions, but some are now claiming a larger controversy with Rotten Tomatoes against Joker.
Since Todd Phillips’ drama loosely based on the Clown Prince of Crime premiered at the Venice Film Festival, Joker has been largely been met with positive reviews. Oscar buzz and talks of it being a “masterpiece” have surrounded the upcoming movie, which currently has a 75% Fresh Rotten Tomato score on the review-aggregation site. This sets up an overall enthusiastic opinion for Joker ahead of its release. However, one fan noticed this potential bias between Marvel and DC films. Check it out (and keep reading for context):
As the Twitter user points out, BBC.com reviewer Nicholas Barber awarded a 3 out of 5 star review for Joker, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Avengers: Endgame. However, next to the ratings there is a divide between DC & Marvel releases. The Joker score has a “Rotten” symbol next to it while Spider-Man and Avengers both have “Fresh” tomatoes next to them. At first glance, it doesn’t look great for the site, perhaps showing a side on the whole Marvel vs. DC debate.
When looking at Nicholas Barber’s Rotten Tomatoes page, Joker isn’t the only 3 out of 5 review with a “Rotten” symbol next to it. He also awarded upcoming releases The King and Ad Astra with 3 out of 5’s. The King is “Rotten” and Ad Astra is “Fresh." How does that work? They have the same rating, right?
Nicholas Barber talked to ComicBook.com to try and clarify the situation, since his name is now out there as the new poster child for RT controversies and DC/Marvel bias. He said his editors at various outlets submit his reviews to Rotten Tomatoes. He said neither he nor Rotten Tomatoes determine whether his reviews are "Fresh" or "Rotten." Sounds like it's up to his posting editors to decide, presumably based on the overall take of his reviews.
When looking through Joker’s other 3 out of 5 ratings, not all of the scores were “Rotten,” as Barber’s was characterized. It should be noted that most review sites don’t consider a 0.5 out of 5 to be a valid rating, so a 3 out of 5 would be perfectly in the middle, so neither “Rotten” or “Fresh." But it wouldn’t be fair for the site not count the review toward its overall percentage because their opinions aren’t definite about it.
Just take a look at these two 3 out 5 reviews, with different designations on Rotten Tomatoes:
Nicholas Barber, BBC.com (3 of 5 “Rotten”) :
Well, OK. Phillips and Silver are entitled to imagine any version of the Joker they like. But their film is way too superficial to take seriously as a study of class conflict and mental illness.
Adam Solomons, HeyUGuys (3 of 5 “Fresh”) :
Light on the laughs and lacking in moral backbone of its own, Joker settles for its decent performances and some stylish filmmaking.
As you can tell, the two reviews have different tones to them even if they share the same rating. The “Rotten” one is more critical, while the “Fresh” score seemed to enjoy the film more. You’ll see this consistently throughout the site too. Rotten Tomatoes controversy, debunked?
Audiences will get to form their own opinions on Joker when it opens in theaters on October 4.