As yesterday’s reviews of Thor: Love and Thunder came in, it was clear that something wasn’t quite right with the scores. Most Marvel films receive better reviews than most other films, but Thor: Love and Thunder ranks fifth out of all MCU films on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 71 percent rating. This is a far cry from Thor: Ragnarok, which has a 93 percent rating and ranks among the top five.
This started an old argument: that Rotten Tomatoes critics’ scores don’t matter and we should wait for audience scores instead. I hear this a lot, so I thought I should go through the MCU and see if it makes sense. When it comes to Marvel movies, do audiences and critics really disagree that often? Will fans like Thor: Love and Thunder even if critics don’t like it?
What I found may come as a surprise to some. Based on the critics’ list, here are the 28 MCU movies in order of how well they were liked by the public.
- 98 out of 100: Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – 98
- 95 out of 100: Spider-Man: Far From Home
- Guardians of the Galaxy – 92
- 92 percent of people liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
- Iron Man – 91/100
- Black Widow – 91
- The Avengers from Marvel – 91%
- 91 out of 100: Avengers: Infinity War
- Avengers Endgame – 90 percent
- Captain America: Civil War gets 89 out of 100.
- Thor: Ragnarok: 87/100
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – 87
- Spider-Man: Homecoming – 87
- Doctor Strange: 86/100
- 85 percent of people liked Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
- Ant-Man – 85 percent
- 82 percent liked Avengers: Age of Ultron.
- Ant-Man and the Wasp – 81%
- 79 percent said Black Panther.
- Eternals – 78 percent
- Iron Man 3—78%
- 76 percent said Thor.
- 75 percent liked Thor: The Dark World.
- 75 percent of people liked Captain America: The First Avenger.
- 71 percent liked Iron Man 2.
- The Incredible Hulk is 70%
- Captain Marvel – 45 percent
So, what should you take away from this? With one or two exceptions, the overall list is pretty much the same as the critics’ list. Some movies do move up or down a few spots, but only a few really stand out, and they do so for pretty clear reasons.
I think it’s interesting that two of the top three spots go to Spider-Man movies, which fans seem to like the most (those are rated highly by critics too). Shang-Chi is one of the top ten best-reviewed Marvel films, but with a 98 percent audience rating, it appears that people liked it more than most.
What about those odd ones? I can really only think of three that matter:
Black Panther, which has a 96 percent critics’ rating and is the number one film, has a 79 percent public rating. I’m willing to bet that at least some of this is because racist reviews bombed the movie when it first came out.
Captain Marvel’s critic score dropped from 79 percent to a much lower-than-average 45 percent. This was definitely because some “fans” were upset by what Brie Larson said, and this is when Rotten Tomatoes started asking for “verification” for audience scores. I think this change kept movies like Shang-Chi or Black Widow from getting bad reviews for being racist or sexist, like Black Panther and Captain Marvel did before them.
As for the idea that if critics give something a low score, fans will give it a high score, there’s only one really big exception, and that’s Eternals, which was the only MCU movie critics gave a “rotten” score of 47 percent, but fans gave it 78 percent. Not the best movie by any means, but also not the worst. Otherwise, it’s not often that audience scores are a lot higher than critic scores, so it’s hard to imagine Thor: Love and Thunder getting a score that’s way above average. I think it could do what Multiverse of Madness did and get a small boost in popularity, since that movie went from getting a 74 percent score from critics to an 85 percent score from audiences.
So, in reality, critics and fans are pretty much on the same page when it comes to the MCU, with a few exceptions caused by review bombing campaigns. Aside from that, tastes are more alike than you might think.