Amazing Kids! Magazine

Critical Reviews Plagued Last Year’s Live-Action Adaptations

By Sarina Patel, Jr. Assistant Editor and Comic Hub Co-Editor

 

Captain Marvel. Spider-Man: Far From Home. Avengers: Endgame. All films that top the lists of the most highly-anticipated comic book films of 2019. All films that might top the lists of the most highly-overrated comic book films of the year…as soon as this December. Back in 2013, not even the most prolific movie critic could have toppled the reign of then-blockbuster, The Hunger Games. But in the age of increasingly digitalization, where thousands of moviegoers are now empowered by online platforms to express their disappointment via critical posts on Rotten Tomatoes and snarky memes on Twitter, movie-reviewing sites have been given a formidable superpower of their own: the ability to influence how successful a movie will be while it is still in production.

Thanks to viral leaks, critics have plenty of material to sink their teeth into before the final product even comes out. Such is the case with Titans, the 2018 series adaptation of D.C. Comics’ Teen Titans franchise, in which Starfire (played by Anna Diop) was bombarded by widespread online backlash for her character’s costume design—an area over which she had no control over—because it was not in alignment with her character’s original look. Reviewing sites in 2018 were even critical of one another, with Vox writing about “racist fans attack[ing] actress Anna Diop for playing the superhero Starfire” and Bounding Into Comics listing “21 Starfire cosplays that look a thousand times better than the Titans live-action show”. This all occurred months before the actual release of Titans, when it quietly scored an 82% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 95% from Google users—displaying critical and commercial acclaim in the end.

This is not to say that movie quality is always unfairly judged on the merit of pre-released snippets. Of course, it is the critic’s job to deliver a thorough and analytical review of a piece of work and thus, some level of dissatisfaction is to be warranted…even expected. But it is interesting to note how an adaptation diverges from canonical (confirmed-to-be-accurate) comic book fare is now being seen as a marker of merit…or, if the adaptation diverges by an amount deemed as “disappointing”, a marker of critical dissatisfaction.

Take Venom, for instance. The film scored a scorching 28% on Rotten Tomatoes, a number that even the titular alien might find hard to swallow. The Numbers, a cinema statistic-crunching site, reported that Venom grossed about $213 million domestically and $640 million internationally, equating to almost $1 billion worldwide. This measure of commercial success, by all mathematical accounts, would make it a bestseller. But in today’s world, great quantity does not always translate to great quality, sometimes causing disconnect between movie consumers and movie critics. Let’s hope the definitions of “quantity” and “quality” become clearer in 2019.