December 6, 2023

As reviews began yesterday for Thor: Love and Thunder, it became clear that something was somewhat wrong with the scores. While Marvel movies do much better on average than most movies, Thor: Love and Thunder It currently ranks in the bottom five of all MCU films scored on Rotten Tomatoes with a 71% critic score, which is a far cry from higher Five bull Ragnarok which owns 93%.

This sparked a familiar argument, that Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ scores don’t matter, and we should wait for audience scores to come out instead. I’ve heard this a lot, and thought I should really check it out and see if this logic is installed in the MCU. Do audiences and critics really differ on all that much when it comes to Marvel movies? Was Thor: Love and Thunder built to please fans even if critics didn’t like it?

What I found may be somewhat surprising. Here are all 28 MCU films ranked by audience score, based on The list of original critics is found here.

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home – 98%
  2. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – 98%
  3. Spider-Man: Far From Home – 95%
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy 92%
  5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier 92%
  6. Iron Man by 91%
  7. black widow 91%
  8. Marvel’s The Avengers by 91%
  9. Avengers: Infinity War at 91%
  10. Avengers Endgame 90% off
  11. Captain America: Civil War 89%
  12. Thor Ragnarok – 87%
  13. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 87%
  14. Spider-Man: Homecoming – 87%
  15. Doctor Strange 86%
  16. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness – 85%
  17. Ant-Man at 85%
  18. Avengers: Age of Ultron – 82%
  19. Ant-Man and the Wasp 81%
  20. Black Panther – 79%
  21. Eternals – 78%
  22. Iron Man 3 – 78%
  23. bull – 76%
  24. Thor: The Dark World at 75%
  25. Captain America: The First Avenger at 75%
  26. Iron Man 2 – 71%
  27. The Incredible Hulk by 70%
  28. Captain Marvel by 45%

So, what are the main takeaways here? With only one or two exceptions, the overall list looks… almost the same as the list that critics rated. Sure, some movies move up or down a few places, but there are only a few true outliers, and these are outliers for some very specific reasons.

I think it’s worth noting that the Spider-Man movies are fan favorites, taking two of the top three slots (these movies were rated high by critics too). And while Shang-Chi is one of the top 10 reviewed Marvel movies, a 98% audience rating means people really liked it more than most, apparently.

As for those outliers? I really only count three of any significance:

Black Panther, the number one critic, got 96% of viewers with 79%. I’m willing to say that at least part of this is due to the bombing of the racist review at the time of his release.

Captain Marvel goes from 79% critical to 45% lower than anything else, which was it at all Due to the review bombing after star Brie Larson teased some “fans” with different comments, this was actually the moment when Rotten Tomatoes started asking to “check” the audience’s results. I think this allowed movies like Shang-Chi or Black Widow to escape potential racial or sexual outbursts like Black Panther and Captain Marvel before them, because of this change.

As for the concept that if critics score something low, the audience is bound to score it high, there is only one. truly A major outlier, that’s the Eternals, the only “Rotten” movie has a MCU rating of 47% by critics, with fans giving it 78%. Not a great movie by any means, but definitely not at the bottom either. Other than that… there aren’t many cases where audience scores are much higher than critics’ scores, so it’s hard to imagine Thor: Love and Thunder offering some high points based on history here. I expect he could do what the Multiverse of Madness did, seeing a little bump in the fans, as this movie went from a 74% critic rating to an 85% audience rating.

So, actually, critics and fans… are actually pretty aligned when it comes to the MCU, outside of a few outliers generated by active review bombing campaigns. Otherwise, tastes are more similar than you might imagine.

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