Rotten Tomatoes got a few flack for how it handled the ranking of Justice League, and a Marvel screenwriter thinks the criticism is valid.
Robert Cargill has penned an article for IndieWire and argued against Rotten Tomatoes’ decision to withhold the Justice League’s score. As fans may remember, Justice League’s ranking on the movie review site was kept a huge secret and was set to debut on their web show See It/Skip It. According to Cargill, who has co-written Marvel’s 2016 venture Doctor Strange, the level of secrecy signifies a much bigger problem with this website.
“What scared me, frankly, was that all of the film’s reviews were held back from the site as well.” Cargill explained. “In an era when Rotten Tomatoes has become the go to aggregator — one so powerful and commonly used that simply googling a film also turns up its Freshness rating in Google’s general information box — websites rely upon exciting blockbusters like Justice League to drive traffic to their reviews, and discover their sites and writers. I, myself, use it every week to sift through and read a handful of both positive and negative reviews, usually by critics I trust.”
“But this week, mere hours before the first screening of the film, they weren’t there.” Cargill continued. “As far as Rotten Tomatoes was concerned, there were no reviews posted for the film. Whatsoever. Despite hundreds of them having already having been posted online.”
And as Cargill had clarified that this is not a case of a Marvel vs. DC bias and he wants fans to respond positively to Justice League.
“Do I want Justice League to be good and succeed? No, I want it to rock my face off and make several dump trucks of money. Just like Wonder Woman did. Because I want to see (and maybe even make) a hell of a lot more great comic book movies.”
But as Cargill argued, the “experiment” of Rotten Tomatoes withholding the information so it can debut on See It/Skip It may have a slippery slope for the film industry.
“I’ve been in these two industries altogether for going on twenty years now. And I’ve seen shady things behind the scenes in both the movie business and journalism. So when something like this happens, it often makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The only way an aggregator like this works is if it is entirely impartial. Rotten Tomatoes isn’t a cute gimmick anymore. It’s not just a helpful tool. It’s a guiding force in the industry. And it wields a lot of power. If comic books have taught us anything, it’s that — say it with me — with great power comes great responsibility. And as a film critic, filmmaker, but chiefly film lover, I want to see that this power is wielded properly, and impartially.”
Justice League is in theaters now.