The most anticipated Marvel movie that doesn’t have Iron Man in it is mere days away, and it’s safe to say that most people are pretty amped up about it. Black Panther has already scored rave reviews across the board, garnering high average scores from critics and fans alike on various platforms. That is all except one, the hyperbolic cesspit that is the Internet Movie Database. IMDb is a useful tool to find out information about a film’s production details or for neat little pieces of trivia, but its user ratings might be the most useless metric this side of an IGN score.
Black Panther is currently sitting at a rating of 6.6 on IMDb, which is a rather notable discrepancy from its 98% with an average of 8.6 on Rotten Tomatoes, or its 87 on Metacritic. Neither of those sites are gospel, and their aggregates are flawed in places, but do those scores really scream 6.6 out of 10 on IMDb? For comparison, only one other movie in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever scored less than a 7.0 on there, and that’s the woeful Incredible Hulk at 6.8.
That’s right, if IMDb’s user rating is to be believed, the most acclaimed Marvel movie in history is the worst instalment in the MCU. Worse than Iron Man 2, Age of Ultron, all of them. The elephant in the room has to be addressed here, Black Panther is only scoring that low due to racial prejudice, you only need to think about it for five seconds to come to that conclusion.
All the talk surrounding Black Panther has been an endless cycle of thinly veiled racism, and that shouldn’t be ignored. Cries of an all-black cast being an example of reverse racism bounce around social media, only serving to reinforce the wider acceptance of the “Alt-right” (otherwise known as white supremacists). It was only recently that a group planned on sabotaging the film’s user score on Rotten Tomatoes, before the site swiftly shut them down. This is a product of fear that movies no longer belong to white people, a big budget Hollywood blockbuster not revolving around Caucasians is scary to the right-wing.
Conservative America had the same response when Public Enemy single-handedly changed the face of the music industry in the 1980s. Black Americans were given a platform to have their voices heard and rich white people were shitting themselves. Black musicians were no longer playing in lounge clubs for the entertainment of the white elite, they were starting a revolution and telling each other it was time to rise up.
Black Panther represents that shift among the cultural consciousness. This isn’t the first black-led superhero movie, but it is the first major superhero blockbuster with a majority black cast that presents its black characters as something other than the outsider. If and when this movie is a hit, it will prove to major studios that investing hundreds of millions of dollars in people of colour-led tentpole releases is no longer a fantasy.
Which is why the IMDb trolling is such a crying shame, a select few people who have likely not even seen the film have took it upon themselves to artificially deflate Black Panther’s score. While many of us know that the score is irrelevant, many members of the general public do still use such websites as a guide on what they should spend their hard-earned money on seeing.
Not only does this score give the wrong impression, it’s a sad representation of how prevalent racism still is in modern society. Much like Public Enemy and their struggle against prejudice over 30 years ago, Black Panther is having to fight an uphill battle against Internet vitriol.
Yes, an argument can be made that the thousands of one-star votes to drag the overall score down are from embittered DC fans, but that’s a sorry excuse. Thor: Ragnarok didn’t suffer that same fate, and Avengers: Infinity War is probably going to end up in the IMDb Top 250 and be declared the best thing in the history of human existence by consumers. Black Panther isn’t some kind of unlucky sacrificial lamb that reflects hatred from the competition or a sense of fatigue with the genre, it’s being targeted specifically because it’s going to upset white America’s status quo.
Few of us have seen the movie, and it isn’t going to be without its faults. No, disliking the film or giving it a negative review doesn’t make you a racist, nobody serious is saying that. But to act like everything’s hunky dory and the en masse negative scores have zero to do with racism is ignorant. It won’t matter in the long run, as Black Panther is going to make a scary amount of money, it’s just sad that petty right-wing politics has to make this an issue in the first place.