Why are some male Korean viewers so bitter about The Marvels?
The latest MCU movie is facing a wave of criticism, and it’s got people wondering what the uproar is all about. Even before the film’s release, it received a lot of negative feedback and complaints, especially within online communities that are male-dominated and share beliefs associated with alt-right ideologies.
This backlash stems from the previous film Captain Marvel, which strongly emphasized the idea of a female superhero, Carol Danvers, taking charge of her own destiny. The Marvels continues this theme by showcasing the solidarity among female heroes as they protect the universe from various attacks.
Brie Larson, the actress behind the main character, has been vocal about the feminist aspects of her role since the first installment of the movie. The film’s director, Nia DaCosta, also adds to its significance as the first Black female director to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These factors have made the movie a target for those with anti-feminist views in both Korea and North America.
The release date of the movie was postponed multiple times due to the pandemic, which led to dwindling expectations. The rescheduling also caused concerns about the quality of the film, as other Marvel movies and series, like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Secret Invasion, released earlier had received mixed reviews.
Furthermore, SAG-AFTRA, the union representing tens of thousands of actors working in Hollywood, went on strike, which had a negative impact on the promotion of The Marvels and its performance at the box office. Due to these reasons, some American entertainment media outlets predicted a modest box office performance for the film, estimating earnings in the range of 50 to 70 million dollars for its opening week. This is quite different from the whopping 153.4 million dollars that Captain Marvel earned in its debut week during the MCU’s heyday.
Many, especially those from certain online communities, were ready to criticize the movie immediately after its release. There have been various negative comments like “The characters’ expressions in the poster look like a Kimyeosa (a derogatory term for an inexperienced middle-aged female driver),” “The actors can’t deliver action scenes, so they’ll try to cover it up with CGI,” “Why is it so poorly made?” and “I doubt people will pay to see it.” There has also been derogatory comments about the actors’ appearances and using disrespectful language related to women in response to the film.
The movie’s ratings on the South Korean search platform Naver also exhibited gender-based variations, with a 5.72-star rating among men and an 8.75-star rating among women. Some comments noted, “No matter how bad the movie is, people tend to give it high ratings simply because the main character is a woman. I can clearly see the bias. Yes,” “It seems like they give a perfect 10 even if it’s not fun, just because men dislike it and want to argue,” “Is that the number of landmines in South Korea?”
Apart from viewers, most news outlets primarily focused on Park Seo Joon’s limited screen time in the movie, rather than the movie itself. Many headlines included his name in the movie review articles. Here are a few examples: “Park Seo Joon’s 5-Minute Try Not to Laugh Challenge“, “Park Seo Joon Faces a Cat Attack, Still Not Exciting“, “Where is the ‘Short and Impactful’ Appearance? Park Seo Joon’s 5-Minute Appearance Fell Short of Expectations” and “The Marvels: Park Seo Joon’s Awkward 3 Minutes Amidst Lack of Originality and Freshness.”
Regarding this negative hype about the film, Hwang Jin Mi, a popular culture critic, stated, “I believe that people with distorted common sense are propagating illogical ideas. Refusing to accept female characters because most of the lead characters in the Marvel series were male is trapped in hateful thinking. It is not right to indulge those who spread irrational thoughts online without even watching the movie.”
As The Marvels continues to screen in theaters, it remains to be seen whether the film can overcome its initial negativity and take its rightful place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.