Whining Bat-fans cause Rotten Tomatoes to shut down comments on The Dark Knight Rises review page

Hey, have you heard that there's a Batman movie coming out this Friday? That Christopher Nolan made? And it's the last one he's going to make, and everyone is all psyched about it? Well, some people have seen it and have written reviews for The Internet, and some "members" of The Internet are not happy about some of these reviews being less than 100 percent stellar. A barrage of angry, angry comments (which would be a really interesting spin-off game for Hungry, Hungry Hippos) has caused the review site Rotten Tomatoes to shut down its comments section completely. Outage due to outrage. By a bunch of bratty, bratty babies. (Yet another excellent spin-off idea.)

Come inside, hear more about the insanity that took place at Rotten Tomatoes and see why its editor-in-chief Matt Atchity made the call to shut it all down.

Rotten Tomatoes posted the tweet above as part of a series announcing that beginning on July 16, comments on the review page for The Dark Knight Rises were to be "temporarily disabled." Because an 87 percent "fresh rating" -- meaning that the reviews for the movie were 87 percent glowingly, extravagantly positive -- was simply not satisfactory enough for the most die-hard (and trigger-happy) fans of Nolan's Batman trilogy. Not happy with a B+, I guess.

You might be wondering how many reviews for The Dark Knight Rises were negative at the time of this uproar. The answer is two. Two reviews. Two people thought The Dark Knight Rises was not as entertaining as they'd hoped. And so they received death threats.

Yeah, shame on you, Marshall Fine and Christy Lemire, for not liking a movie about Batman. How dare you. For this you surely deserve to die.

"Death threats" was the term used by Furious Fanboys in their coverage, made against Fine -- whose review was the first negative one posted on Rotten Tomatoes, and whose site was crashed by all the people who "took issue" with his opinion (as of this writing, it's still experiencing some issues) -- and Lemire, who also got the misogynistic treatment, lucky girl! In an open letter posted to the site, Atchity said that the site expected that a heavily anticipated superhero movie with a "passionate" fan base would attract a lot of attention. A bad review for such a movie might just send someone off the deep end. And with the glorious anonymity of the internet, plenty of people are going to type some really nasty things and then feel like their penis grew three sizes that day. But this situation was clearly an exceptional one.

It also didn't help that someone posted a fake negative review (pretending to be from a legit organization) seemingly just to poke the hornet's nest. So, there was that, too.

I reached out to Atchity to get a better look at why this situation was worse than most:

I saw one site use the phrase "death threats" to describe some of the comments, but did it really get that far? Yes, it did get that far. Threats were made against both Marshall Fine and Christy Lemire. [Ed. note: OVER A BATMAN MOVIE.] Whether or not they were meant seriously isn't the issue; we simply won't tolerate threats or harassment in comments.

Was this the largest amount of negative comments you saw, or just the largest amount of horribly negative comments you saw? It may not be the largest, but it's pretty high up there.

When was the last time you saw this kind of response to negative reviews, and was this the first time you considered turning off the comments? We saw a lot of negativity as recently as May, when The Avengers was released. But Monday was a one-two punch of two negative reviews coming on that would be affecting a previously perfect score, and the user response escalated really quickly. We'd talked about removing the comment system on reviews as part of our discussions about managing the site in general, but this is the first time I felt we needed to turn them off because they became unmanageable.

Many have supported ending comments on reviews completely. Is there a strong possibility of this happening? If not, do you expect to bring them back today or tomorrow (as the movie opens in theaters)? A lot of options are on the table, and there is a strong possibility we eliminate individual threads assigned to each review link. We could end up (for instance) making one comment thread for each film, as opposed to breaking them down per review. I think the dogpile might be less likely that way. But we haven't made up our minds yet.

Can you recall the worst or one of the worst comments you saw that didn't veer into horrifically dangerous territory? I don't want to repeat the invective I've seen about critics I respect, but the ones that amuse me are the ones where people do a line-by-line analysis for a review when that commenter clearly hasn't seen the movie.

Actually, that might make for a really funny parody review blog: "No viewing needed! Reviews of movies we have never seen!" What would also be really funny are all the panic attacks had by all the trolls who would take it seriously. (And all the smart, fun, and witty commenters who can go ahead and make fun of them.)



  1. Expected. Youtube’s comments are also so outrageous that I have installed derp herp extension for firefox. maybe the functionality should be extended to other sites as well.

    1. VCR? That’s some obsolete tech right there. I think it’s up to the internet to drive a stake through the blood-sucking studio exec’s hearts.

  2. >plenty of people are going to type some really nasty things and >then feel like their penis grew three sizes that day.

    I get lots of emails about penis enlargement, but none of them mention Bat Man.

    1. I get lots of emails about penis enlargement, but none of them mention Bat Man.

      You’re obviously not hanging out in the right corners of the net.

    1. But it did happen with the Avengers, though not to the level of shutting down comments.  I remember the stories at the time about people getting mad about the slightly negative reviews because it was going to lower the overall ranking for the movie down from a perfect score.  WHICH. IS. INSANE.

    2. Good question.  I wonder how much of it has to do with Batman and how much of it has to do with Christopher Nolan.

      1. This is all Hans Zimmer’s fault.  The score for the Joker’s theme in The Dark Knight just crazies up the blood.

      2. The fanboyism for The Dark Night has been off the scale since it was released. I regularly saw it referred to as “the greatest work of cinema of our time,” (groan) and Ledger’s dying before the release fueled some sort of deification for the actor.

    3. The expectations of fans are pretty high. It wouldn’t surprise me if this same type of chaos occurs when the new Hobbit movie is released. The current Batman trilogy has put a lot of effort into making excellent movies. So if you are a fan of Batman, respect Nolan’s work on this trilogy (of what you’ve seen), and have high expectations, you might be a little emotionally wounded if someone criticizes the movie.

      1. Sure, and I hope the film is enjoyable, but…

        It seems like they are criticizing the *possibility* that the Dark Knight Rises might not be the greatest film in the universe.  

        Because it probably won’t be.And that’s when things veer off into no-longer-dealing-with-reality territory.

        At which point I begin to wonder if the aggro fans aren’t just way too excited about the deranged worldviews celebrated in the dark knight films, rather than the whole semi-good-conquering-consummate-evil thing.

        Because, you know, if, in fact, the Dark Knight films are kind of a “psychopaths unite!” moment for many viewers, then, um, maybe it *should* get a lower than perfect score.  As in, way, way lower.

        But, I have to add, the main problem with negative film reviews is the critics’ compulsion to *make* the film suck by giving away the ending and/or other key plot points. I assume they do that because either (A) they simply didn’t get it and rather than admit they don’t understand some films, they just say the film sucks, have nothing else to say, and resort to plot summary, or (B) so they spoil the experience for the viewers, so the film lacks any surprise, so they will agree with their negative review. Or both.

      2. So what? What if I find fault with Nolan’s work and want to criticize, and I get paid to do that? People need to calm down and grow up. It’s a movie. Critics get paid to watch pretty much all of them, so their margin of comparison and experience is going to be different from most. Further, a good critic is going to judge the film on its merits and honestly offer you their opinion so that you might inform your own, but it’s just THEIR OPINION. A critic’s review, positive or negative, has never caused a film to be re-edited or removed from circulation.

        People need to grow up. Christopher Nolan is just as human as you and I, and therefore imperfect. So get over it.

      3. I think the mistake is that there’s a difference between being a fan of something, and becoming so emotionally invested in it that it forms part of your identity – therefore when someone criticizes it you can’t help but take it personally.
        I’ve seen sports fans get pretty passionate, but it’s nothing compared to what I see in the fan community! What is wrong with these people?!  

    4.  (Foreword for potential haters: I say this as someone who’s likely been a comics fan for much longer than you’ve been alive.) Superheroes in general have a heavy combo of personal identification and power wish-fulfillment, and Batman, for several reasons (being built up as the perfect man, cool gadgets, being rich, and general badassery) is several orders of magnitude above Joe Average Superhero in this regard. Simply put, for someone who’s really into Batman, anything having to do with the character (and particularly a much-anticipated, cleverly-promoted high-profile movie) simply can’t not be awesome.

      1. Interesting. As a person who never enjoyed comics, even as a kid, this is a useful insight and explains much of the invective I’ve seen. I knew some folks take it (the reviews) personally, I didn’t realize that there was any self-actualization/wish fulfillment in comic fan stuff – I’ve always thought of comics as simply entertainment, and no more, and not really having any real deep connection to anything important.  

        That’s a TIL moment for me, right there, thanks. 

        1. I didn’t realize that there was any self-actualization/wish fulfillment in comic fan stuff – I’ve always thought of comics as simply entertainment, and no more, and not really having any real deep connection to anything important.

          If you’re not really into comics, then you might at least be aware that the only hugely popular genre of comics is superhero comics.  Imagine if you went into a bookstore and 90% of the store was vampire romances.  (OK, I know, I know, doesn’t take much imagination.)  Imagine that there is one little rack in the back of the store for all of literature, religion, history, science, etc. — everything else is YA novels about vampires in love.

          That’s comics, but instead of randy undead it’s all about huge muscle-bound men with mysterious powers saving helpless people from evil.  Almost the entire comics market is driven purely by adolescent wish fulfillment.

      2. Long-time comics reader here, and I never considered comics or knew someone who looked at them with wish fulfillment. Would any fictional world then be labeled wish-fulfillement, like LOTR, or Narnia? Comics are good stories, quickly told. Not everything is Freudian. Stan Lee gets credit for creating “relatable” characters, the weaklings that gain super human strength and win the girl – but the relatability is more like an adjective or referential que for the reader, not an actual jumping off point for self-identifying, “Hey! I like science too, and wish I could save the day! “.

        1. There are people in any fandom who look at it as wish fullfillment, or even a part of their identity.  I am very close friends with someone who has owned a comic book store for several decades, I have been a collector, I was a member of a comic book club (as an adult), and have both worked and attended a number of cons. Some people get so invested that they feel like it is part of who they are. Either its a specific character, or comic, or book, or tv show, or genre. They come to know ALL about it and incorporate it so much into their lives to the point that it could be compared to a relationship, and not a healthy one. And if you threaten any part of that relationship or its validity (as in you don’t like something about it, or you find it lacking, or you question their knowledge of what it is they are involved in) these certain people can become somewhat scary in their reaction.  You are very lucky if you read comics and have never encountered any of these people.  I wouldn’t say they’re are a lot of them, but trust me, they are out there.

  3. Is the painful, endless stream of Batman films ever going to stop? I feel like I have Bat-fatigue Syndrome. Also, Vampire-fatigue and Zombie-fatique

    1. Well you are bound to love the Night of the Living Dead remake with vampire Bat Man battling the zombies (and werewolves).  And when we say “bound to love” we mean that in a legally binding contractual sense, because you were too lazy to read the fine print in that click through license.

    2.  How about superhero movies in general? (I realize it makes Batman fanboys “blood boil” if you call him a superhero) Can’t believe anyone would be anticipating another Iron Man movie after the stinker that was the sequel. Quite enough Spider Man too.

  4. Ehh, if you have decided to watch a movie no matter what the reviews say, and are really excited, and you go read the negative reviews., you are just looking for a fight.

    I will see batman, and likley love it.  A few months down the line I will look into reviews that point out how Nolan is not much of a detail person and therefore employed sloppy camera work and some stupid plot holes.  But I will be emotionally ready for it then and It will not make me want to punch the internet in the face….   I hope.

    1. “Likely” love it?  That’s only, like, a 60-70% enjoyment rating of the film you haven’t yet seen!  How dare you, sir?

      1.  There is a 99% chance I will like or really like it, with a 70% chance of love.   Probably a 10% chance of it being my all time number one favoritist movie of the decade.   But there is 15% chance I will regret my immediate joy after several months of reflection and downgrade the move to good, or pretty good.  

    2. Ehh, if you have decided to watch a movie no matter what the reviews say, and are really excited, and you go read the negative reviews., you are just looking for a fight.

      Ehh, if you never go outside and are mortally terrified of even mild discomfort, yet dream of being Batman so that you can fulfill your high school revenge fantasies, you are just looking for an anonymous and completely safe fight. FTFY

  5. Good for Christy Lemire. Love her reviews.
    I can’t wait to see the “What The Flick” segment on it.

  6. If it’s so inoffensive that NOBODY dislikes it, it’s not worth seeing. And if 86% of the critics validating your opinions isn’t enough, then you’ve got some serious insecurity issues.

  7. I find it difficult to understand this type of fanboyism. I will go see movies or buy certain things no questions asked because it’s by a favorite director or whatever and I will of course be predisposed to liking it, meaning I’ll be likely to overlook many of its flaws… but if it sucks, I can accept that. And if someone has a different take on it that’s just, like, their opinion; it’s an opening for a potentially interesting debate about the film’s merits, which is a good thing and a lot more fun that just telling someone they’re wrong.

    Alas, we shouldn’t be too surprised considering how irrational most people are about their opinions, political beliefs, etc.

  8. I wonder if Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy (nee MST3K, now Rifftrax) got death threats for riffing the original DK (it’s on youtube of course). I wouldn’t know because I’m of the Joel-and-Trace persuasion myself (MST3K was often brilliant with Joel and Trace; merely okay without them).

    This is the song of Mystery Science theater
    This is the song of Joel and the ‘bots —
    They tried to kill them with a forklift…
    (after Fugitive Alien)

  9. So as geek culture moves into the mainstream, it takes ugly, rabid fanboyism along with it.

    Gaming reviews have long been hobbled by this. Major releases are rated on a strict scale of 7.5-9.5 out of 10. A score of 7.5 is considered a complete pan and will make publishers threaten to pull advertising (often getting the review changed in their favor). Posting a score under 7/10 for a big-name game will get you fired. It makes you wonder what a game (or now movie) would have to do to earn a 1 or 2 on this distorted scale.

    “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises tied me to a chair and killed my dog. 5/10″

  10. You see this a lot with video games – where you have a popular series (Call of Duty, Halo, almost anything Nintendo) and there’s a non 10/10 preview the butthurt just hits the fan with people (who have never played the game) complaining about ‘this obviously bias review’.

    And it’s gotten better since there’s enough good games for it now that they’re not quite so rabidly defensive, but in the past, god help you if you panned a hotly anticipated PS3 exclusive that was deemed to be The One that would cause all the ‘XBots and Nintendopes’ to finally buy a PS3.

  11. Just imagine: This is the level of fanboy outrage that Marvel and DC have to put up with every. Damn. Day.

    1.  It’s also the only reason they’re able to charge $4 for 12 leafs of paper sopped with chemical gloop.  Just sayin’.

  12. I have a feeling that the movie is going to be horrible. The main thing that made the other two watchable was Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, the way that you sat through the Burton/Schumacher  films for Michael Gogh’s Alfred. The plastic action figure bat suit, Bale’s “I need to take a dump” Batman voice and the 9/11 era TERROR TERROR TERROR vibe made the first two as enjoyable to watch as going through Transesophageal echocardiogram is without the drugs.

    1.  …watch Terminator: Salvation…keep waiting for Bale to break character and say “I’m the batman.”

    1.  get use to it. After the success of Batman you can expect all third rate superhero movies to be Dark and Gritty. Started with Spider man and will surely move on to Super Man and others.

  13.  This sort of nerdrage makes me sick and sad; it’s nice that comic books and superhero movies are no longer being considered the sole province of Comic Book Guy-type losers, but that’s largely nullified by the gross overentitlement on the part of people who demand both that their entertainment be flawless and that it be accepted by everyone uncritically. Whether it’s people flooding the Consumerist blog with votes against EA that ranks it as the worst corporation in America, over genuine corporate villain Bank of America, because of their disappointment over the ending of a single videogame (Mass Effect 3) or Anita Sarkeesian getting threatened over some relatively mild criticism of videogames, it’s some deeply ingrained bullshit that desperately needs to stop.

    1. “Overentitlement.” 
      An over-used word these days, but one which most accurately describes geek culture, unfortunately. I think it’s going to be the word of the decade, because even though fanboys have always had rabid assholes in their midst, they seem to be louder now than they were before.
      What’s that thing Asimov said?  Something like “the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”. Yep, that’s the internet.  

    2. The difference between entitled nerdrage and entitled spoiled dicksticks elsewhere (for example, last Christmas’s “My mom only bought me an iPad 2 and a Camaro, what a selfish bitch #christmasruinedforever” Twitter posse) is visibility. Your nerdrage-filled fanboy is busy fighting the great flame wars of the day in the trenches of comic book forums, while the general population is being vapid ignorant idiots on Twitter and Facebook in public.

      /partially sarcasm

  14. Way to give Jack Thompson something to start his career back up, Batfans. And way to drag us comic book fans back into our basements and the 80s. :(

  15. It’s too bad that they took down the comments section.

    I would have posted that not only am I not interested in Batman, but that I also have absolutely no intention of ever viewing it, purchasing it, renting it, or even discussing it. Add to that that I also am not interested in any “super heroes” motif, story, comics, or anything related or similar in nature, in any fashion whatsoever.

    To rub salt into the wounds, as it were…

    …and spit in their eyes.

  16.  I was considering going to see Dark Knight Rises this weekend, but this is exactly the kind of stuff that makes me not want to bother. I’d rather take flak for not seeing a ‘landmark pop culture event’ movie rather than have to argue with crazy fanboys if I don’t like the movie.

    1. If you’re taking flak for not seeing a Batman movie, you should consider upgrading your social circle.

  17. Didn’t the same thing happen to the two reviewers who didn’t like Toy Story 3 and “spoiled” its 100% RT rating?

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