An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia
Exhibit 80: Marveling Over Superhero Meltdowns
The Media Research Center shows it can hurl as much abuse at Marvel as it does at DC when their superheroes fail to comply with right-wing heteronormative narratives.
By Terry Krepel
The Media Research Center takes no sides on the superhero universe debate -- it hates that Marvel doesn't adhere to its preferred right-wing narratives as much as it does when the DC universe fails to comply.
For instance, the MRC was not a fan of the film "Black Panther" when it came out. When the film's trailer was released in 2017, Corinne Weaver complained that star Chadwick Boseman -- whom Weaver somehow identified as "Marshall Boseman" -- said that then-President Trump was "giving voice to white supremacy, he has made it OK for white supremacy to exist because he hasn’t said that it’s wrong." Weaver didn't rebut Boseman, so we can assume that she agrees with his argument and is just mad he said it.
Gabriel Hays damned "Black Panther" with faint praise, calling it "merely a decent superhero movie, not exactly the standard the Oscars usually goes for," sneering that it was being "held as revolutionary filmmaking by Hollywood’s PC police for an apparent mystical celebration of African American culture."
Hays dedicated another post to dismissing the film as "typical Hollywood filled with violence, including 163 shootings, while Marvel stars call for gun control." Hays did not document where his "163 shootings" stat came from, nor did he indicate he counted them himself.
(Strangely, a couple weeks later, the MRC was all giddy about the remake of the film "Death Wish," with Scott Whitlock gushing over how "liberal film critics hate" the film. Whitlock did not count the number of shootings in the film like Hays apparently did for "Black Panther," though one would have to assume that a film based on a violent revenge fantasy has dozens upon dozens of them. But as long a movie sufficiently pisses off liberals, it can have as much violence as possible, according to the MRC.
In 2019, the MRC spent a lot of time throwing hate at the new superhero movie "Captain Marvel," fretting that the film may too politically correct for its right-wing sensibilities. Gabriel Hays cited an interview with star Brie Larson to claim the film examined "intersectional feminism" and was going to "flow down the PC sewer" with its "female-centric gaze." Hays went on to tout the "strong pre-release boycott of this film due to Larson’s PC pulpit."
A few days later, biased reviewer Christian Toto trashed "Captain Marvel" in a post that started off not by examining the film itself but by attacking Larson for having "railed against too many white male reporters, trumpeted the film’s feminist agenda and dictated which under-represented writers could pen her glossy magazine profiles." It wasn't not until the sixth paragraph that Toto finally got around to addressing the actual film, sniffing that it "suffers from anemic characters, lame comic relief and, worst of all, a talented actress who’s all wrong to play a superheroine."
But the MRC's narrative must be served, and he bashes one character for being "always around the corner, telling Vers she’s too hysterical to make an impact. How did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez not score a cameo?" He concludes by huffing that the film "cares far more about lecturing audiences than entertaining them."
Hays returned to spend a post being triggered that the film was promoted on the Twitter account of the late Stan Lee:
If your feminist superhero movie is losing in the court of public opinion and millions of dollars are on the line, how far would you go to save face? Well if you’re Marvel, I guess you might drag up the ghost of Stan Lee to do some last minute PR. An effective tactic? Er, maybe ... ? Creepy and ghoulishly opportunistic? You betcha.
While Hays and Toto rooted for the film to be a bomb, they were surely disappointed that non-triggered fans didn't agree; "Captain Marvel" grossed a massive $153 million on its opening weekend.
Still, the MRC didn't back off. A March 15 item by Clay Waters bashed the New York Times for reporting on how the movie review site Rotten Tomatoes revamped its scoring system to discount pre-release attacks by trolls doing the same thing that Hays did by whining about the film being too PC. "The article was an amusing example of how avidly the ostensibly anti-capitalist left will defend a multi-billion dollar capitalist enterprise (Marvel Studios and its ongoing myriad-film superhero saga) when the right ('troll') enemies are lined up on the other side," Waters huffed.
In March 2020, Hays took Marvel's bait and went on an extended freakout over Marvel introducing a superhero who's nonbinary:
Marvel’s most recent comic book isn’t even about superheros this time around. It’s progressive propaganda with a crime-fighting veneer. That’s it.
Hays further whined that "Today’s hero template can’t just include fighting skills and the desire to help the average citizen, it needs woke activism," finally sneering: "Kibblesmith added, 'I wanted to have teen characters who felt as ‘now’ as the New Warriors did in 1990. The New Warriors have been zeitgeist characters from the beginning.' Well, today it seems that 'now' feeling also comes with side effects of nausea and weeping for the culture."
No, Gabe, that's just your reflexive -- and all too predictable -- right-wing hate taking over.
Talking about race
The failure of Marvel superheroes to conform to right-wing heteronormative stereotypes continued to be a steady source of content for the MRC. Veronica Hays whined on March 17 that a "transsexual woman" artist helped make Captain America non-heteronormative:
Someone switched out the super soldier serum. Captain America is now gay. Our beloved champion is now a social justice warrior, taking on the form of a gay teen with tattoos, multiple piercings, and an edgy, shaved haircut. Make sure you refer to him with the correct pronouns, or else..
The MRC then shifted its focus to being angry about superheroes talking race on a related show. On March 29, Lindsay Kornick ranted about "the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) decline into wokeness" because the Disney+ show "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" included racial themes as a central storyline, huffing, "Disney+ and Marvel might have to focus on actual heroics if they want their superhero shows to succeed." Kornick returned on April 8 to promote an anonymous YouTube video citing unverified streaming data to claim that "massive number[s]" of people stopped watching the aforementioned episode when that storyline became prominent. (We thought the MRC hated anonymous sources.) Kornick then put her own spin on this: "Of course, Overlord DVD’s personal take on the matter is subjective, though, if this discovery is in fact true, it is a moment of revelation for The House of Mouse. Americans are tired of the “wokeism” of mainstream media and the entertainment establishment."
Kornick was back on April 18 to attack yet another episode of the show:
Marvel’s latest series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has proved to be the polarizing propaganda the media hoped it would be. Now on its penultimate episode, the Disney+ series is stepping things up by asserting that nothing's changed in 500 years and no black man should want to be Captain America.
Kornick seems to have forgotten that her employer trashed "Black Panther," which indicated that the MRC didn't particularly want a black superhero -- at least until he became so popular that Kornick feels she had to retcon things.
On April 23, Kornick predictably complained about the show's finale:
Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been a mixed bag of action sequences and blatant political messages. The Disney+ series ended things with a bang by making one last racial jab at audiences and Captain America fans.
If Kornick and the MRC really have no problem with a black superhero, why have they spent so much time and space complaining that it's being talked about?
When Captain America said some non-jingoistic things about the American dream in a new comic series, Abigail Streetman was there to smear him as a commie in a July 6 post:
The Marvel Commies have struck again. This time they’re attempting to indoctrinate the readers of “The United States of Captain America” by telling them that the American Dream “isn’t real.” In the first issue of the comic written by Christopher Cantwell, the patriotically dressed Avenger promotes an anti-American view of our country on the weekend of Independence Day.
What did Captain America actually say that got Streetman so riled up? Well, she chops up his words and takes them out of context for full rant value, but he said that the "white picket fence" version of the American dream is a lie because it resides outside reality for many Americans, and that his version of the American dream is centered around freedoms for all. Streetman somehow translated this into right-wing rage-speak:
The more than 5.5 million family-owned businesses in the U.S. may have something different to say about that. Releasing this kind of hateful rhetoric on the weekend of Independence Day is one of the most anti-American acts to come from the publishing company, and Marvel seems to be constantly promoting left-wing insanity.
It seems that Streetman is making stuff up so she has something to write about. How else to explain her insisting that calls for full equality for all Americans as "left-wing insanity"?
Ranting for ranting's sake appears to be more important than making sense, apparently.
Losing it over Loki
Given the MRC's overall homophobia, it wasn't a surprise that when it was announced that the new "Loki" series would have a main character who's gender-fluid -- never mind that it fits a shape-shifting nature -- it would result in things like a June 7 post by Abigail Streetman:
In a predictable turn of events, Disney+ has released a short teaser video for the new Loki series that announced the sex of the main character as “fluid.” Marvel has consistently been outdoing itself with the woke leftist propaganda being shoved into every possible aspect of its movies. This one depicts Loki, the God of Mischief, as the protagonist who has to travel through the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in order to save the world’s timeline. It wasn't enough to just add a “gender fluid” character, they must glorify it as well.
So if you're not heterosexual, you're suffering from "mental illness"? That's how much the MRC hates LGBT people.
And when this actually showed up in the show, Alexa Moutevelis was there to complain in a June 24 post:
Fresh off the announcement that Loki is gender fluid, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has now officially made the character bisexual, to the delight of LGBTQ activists in and outside the media.
She concluded by whining: "LGBTQ propaganda is EVERYWHERE, it hardly needs to be further celebrated and encouraged, especially on Disney+."Only at the MRC is it "propaganda" for a character not to be heterosexual.
'Eternals' too 'woke'
The MRC's right-wing film critic, Christian Toto, has deemed himself the judge of all that is "woke" and not "woke" in filmdom -- which explains why he hates the recent Marvel movie "Eternals." It also explains why his Nov. 6 review of the film -- well, his review of defenses of the film -- began with a lengthy rehash of his ideologically motivated attack on the 2016 all-female-lead "Ghostbusters" reboot, in which he denied hating the movie because the genders of the leads were changed but, rather, because the movie purportedly used "victimization storylines ripped from today’s snowflake-encrusted headlines." Yeah, we wouldn't want a movie to have any relevance to the real world, would we?
Toto eventually gets around to attacking "Eternals" for being similarly "woke," which seems to come down to not having enough heterosexual characters, from the obtuse angle of bashing an article noting the complaint:
The new MCU film Eternals, in theaters Nov. 5, is earning tepid reviews prior to its release. Even the positive critiques are far from glowing, and the movie hovered around the “rotten” mark at RottenTomatoes.com before falling to 53 percent at the moment.
Toto then insisted that LGBT content in movies is no longer a problem for people: "Gay and lesbian stories abound in pop culture today. They’re everywhere in an industry that once tried to hide a lesbian star’s relationship with another actress, Anne Heche. So why would the tiny LGBTQ moments in Eternals evoke such an allegedly hostile reaction?"But if LGBT content is no longer a problem, why did Toto's publisher, the MRC, publish an attack on a bisexual Superman? Toto continued:
TheHill.com piece also notes that other MCU properties, including Avengers: Endgame and Loki, also feature LGBTQ characters. Has either one been “review bombed?” If not, why not?
So, if you redefine LGBT content as "woke," then you can justify hating said content. Got it. (Also, as noted above, the MRC trashed "Loki" for being gender-fluid, putting another hole in Toto's theory of acceptance.)
Continuing to deny the reality of people hating LGBT content in films, Toto -- who also seems unaware that the MRC has additionally lashed out at non-heterosexual characters in "Supergirl" and "Batwoman" -- continued to play dumb: "Audiences eagerly embrace actors of all races, assuming they deliver fine performances in entertaining content. If the 'review bombing' phenomenon were as real and pernicious as we’re told, we’d see it across the pop culture landscape."
By contrast, Toto was much kinder to a different Marvel film. A Dec. 18 review gave his "anti-woke" imprimatur to "Spider-Man: No Way Home" for not having "dabbled in wokeism" and for being a "course correction, a sequel that adores its audience, its lore and the ability to transport us for two-plus glorious hours." He did not mention the existence of any LGBT characters in the film, which presumably is the reason is "woke"-o-meter didn't go off.