Marvel’s latest offering Ms Marvel has been creating a buzz for all the good reasons and bad. It is the first time that a Pakistani-Muslim superhero is getting her own show and has ticket most of the boxes when it comes to representing Pakistani Muslims.
The show, featuring the origin story of Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), has been a departure from the usual trope of superhero shows and has been loved by critics and fans alike. However, the series got ‘review-bombed’ on IMDB minutes after the pilot episode aired, landing it a rating of 6.6 out of 10.
It seems that for all the things that make the show stand out of the rest, are the same reasons why the show is being 'review-bombed' by a group of fans. A double-edged sword.
But before we discuss what led to the show being 'review-bombed', we need to know what 'review-bombing' is. 'Review-bombing' is basically a planned and coordinated spamming of reviews of a product to sabotage its popularity and success.
How Was Ms. Marvel 'Review-Bombed'?
Ms Marvel is currently the second lowest rated MCU show on IMDB, just ahead of Inhumans (2017), with a 6.1 rating, while Inhumans has a 4.9 rating, at the time of publishing this article.
A quick look at the ratings will tell you that most of the users have either rated the show 10 stars or one star. 32.7% of the users have rated it 10 stars while almost 27% of users have rated it one star. This indicates hostility from a certain group.
Over on Rotten Tomatoes, critics have given it a 98% rating, which is the best rating for a MCU offering yet. The audience score is 82%, though that score is slightly skewed as it refers to the percentage of users that rated the show 3.5 stars or higher.
A quick look at the demographic chart will reveal that adults above the age of 30 have given the greatest number of reviews of the show on IMDB. They have also given the show the lowest rating in the age brackets.
If you compare the number of one-star ratings of Ms Marvel to other MCU shows, the former has the highest number of one-star ratings at 26.9%, with Moon Knight at a distant second with only 5%. The other shows are 3% or less.
Meanwhile, Ms Marvel also has the highest 10-star ratings at 32.7%, higher than any other MCU show.
What is interesting here is that Ms Marvel wasn’t the only show to have been review-bombed. Moon Knight too has been ‘review bombed’ although not to the extent that the former has been. Marvel’s Eternals too had been a victim of the same.
Why The Review-Bombing?
What’s common between Ms Marvel, Moon Knight and the Eternals – which led to them being ‘review-bombed’? Representation and Depiction.
Marvel productions which have showcased representation in Hollywood have been the target of 'review-bombing'. While Ms Marvel shows a Pakistani-Muslim protagonist and a showcasing of Islamic culture without stereotyping it, Eternals had an Asian female director, showcased South Asian and more particularly LGBTQIA+ culture.
Meanwhile, Moon Knight was 'review-bombed' by Turkish-origin audiences for showcasing the Armenian genocide.
The types of negative reviews that the show received can be divided into two broad categories. The first category is for age, where the reviews call the show ‘childish’, ‘kid-centric’ and ‘cringe’. They believe that they can’t enjoy the show because it is meant for kids.
We had mentioned earlier that most of the reviews were by people aged 30-44, and that this show is for a much younger audience (the protagonist is 16 years old), a departure from all other Marvel shows.
The other group of reviews are slamming the show for its representation of a Muslim protagonist and Muslim culture. Ms Marvel in the comics was initially portrayed as a white female (Carol Danvers or Captain Marvel) before being recast as a person of colour (Kamala Khan). Many believe that the show should have casted a white female as the lead, instead of a Muslim girl.
Closed groups have been created on social media which have slammed the show for the above-mentioned reason. Although it must be noted that no direct link could be established between the 'review-bombing' and the existence of these groups.
The show is heavily immersed in celebrating Muslim culture, which while has been appreciated by critics, but has not been taken too kindly by these set of reviewers who have slammed the show for this.