“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” may have been vivisected by critics, but fans on social media have shown a greater appreciation for the onscreen showdown between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.
Fifty seven percent of the conversation on Twitter following the film’s debut has been positive, according to social media tracking service Fizziology. Less than 10 percent of the tweets about the film have been negative, with the rest falling under the neutral banner. Fizziology says that reaction is in line with the reception for blockbusters such as “Furious 7” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
That’s a big difference from how most major critics greeted the film. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott entitled his review “Batman v Superman…v Fun?,” New York Magazine’s David Edelstein branded it a “storytelling disgrace;” and the New Republic’s Tim Grierson called the picture a “joyless slog.” That added up to an anemic 29% “rotten” rating on critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
“I’ve never seen this kind of disconnect between critical reaction and fan reaction,” said Ben Carlson, founder of Fizziology. “A lot of the conversation was about how the reviews were wrong.”
The positive Twitter reception is also counterintuitive because “Batman v Superman” only received a mediocre B rating from CinemaScore. The tracking service is intended to measure audience sentiment, and in this case, the result signaled that fans enjoyed the movie far less than other Batman and Superman films such as “Man of Steel” and “The Dark Knight.” However, the CinemaScore improved with audiences under the age of 18 and under the age of 25, who handed the film an A- and a B+, a signal that younger, digitally engaged crowds like the film better.
Despite the bad reviews, “Batman v Superman” has found success at the box office, earning $209 million in its first week of domestic release. Beyond the reception, there was an enormous amount of social media activity surrounding the film that may have helped it weather the critical slings and arrows.
Throughout the year leading up its debut, “Batman v Superman” was tweeted, blogged, or shared about over 180 million times on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+ and Wikipedia, according to social media tracking service ListenFirst Media. Among 2015 and 2016 releases, that only trails “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (232 million) and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (273 million).
The conversation intensified from Thursday through Monday when audiences were actually beginning to get a look at the film. Conversation volume surrounding “Batman v Superman” hit 1.4 million, according to ListenFirst, trumping “Deadpool” (1 million), “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (981,231), “Furious 7” (973,582), and “Jurassic World” (610,579).
“There are certain times where the overwhelming excitement and engagement from the average person can carry a film at the box office,” said Jason Klein, co-CEO of ListenFirst.
Both ListenFirst and Fizziology provide data for most of the major Hollywood studios, including Warner Bros., the studio behind “Batman v Superman.”
Fizziology’s Carlson said that there were certain elements of the movie that fans seemed to embrace, in particular the introduction of Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck’s performance as Batman.
“From the very first teaser trailer, this has been a film that people have been hungry to talk about,” said Carlson. “The thing that’s interesting is that interest has built and built and built, and you don’t always see that.”