Marshall Fine, a syndicated film critic and host of the blog Hollywood and Fine, published the first negative review of The Dark Knight Rises on Rotten Tomatoes, breaking the film’s 100 percent streak on the site’s “Tomatometer.” Batman fans reacted by threatening to kill him.
“At times, the action is so massive and thunderously clunky that I might as well have been watching one of the Transformer movies,” Fine wrote. He goes on to state definitively in the review, “The third Batman film in Nolan’s trilogy is also the weakest.” Fine’s review had garnered about 861 comments by 3:30 PM on Tuesday, the most of any reviews on The Dark Knight Rises Rotten Tomatoes review page so far.
Death threats ranged from the witty to the blunt, according to Indie Wire. On the cleverer end, some commenters quoted lines that Bane spoke to Batman in the trailer: Fine’s punishment “must be more severe.” And then there are the scary threats. One comment that has since been removed told Fine to “die in a fire.” Another commenter said he would like to beat Fine “with a thick rubber hose into a comma [sic].”
Several commenters also vowed to destroy Fine’s website and succeeded, in a way, for at least a few hours. A massive influx of traffic crashed the site’s server for a large chunk of the afternoon on Tuesday.
But is anyone really surprised? Impassioned commenters tend to overreact in these types of situations. And The Dark Knight Rises not only has the traditional superhero movie following of comic book nerds and action movie buffs, it also retains an impassioned audience who fell in love with the second Batman film, The Dark Knight. That 2008 film has a lifetime gross of around $533 million, according to Box Office Mojo—the fourth highest in movie history. And though blockbusters and Oscars rarely go hand-in-hand, Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his brilliant turn as the Joker.
More negative reviews of final film in Nolan’s trilogy have been posted since the incident, and as of 3:30 on Tuesday, The Dark Knight Rises has an 86% on the Tomatometer. (The film’s predecessor, The Dark Knight, ranks at 94%.) Christy Lemire of the Associated Press, Andrew L. Urban of Urban Cinefile, and Christopher Tookey of the Daily Mail all panned the film. Some of these critics are already receiving a flurry of disgruntled comments.
Lesson learned: Don’t mess with Batman… fans.
UPDATE: Rotten Tomatoes has stopped accepting user comments for Dark Knight Rises reviews and is considering switching to a Facebook commenting system that would eliminate anonymous posts.