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‘Ms Marvel’ is being review bombed on IMDB for its South Asian, Muslim superhero

  • June 15, 2022

Ms Marvel, a web series based on a Muslim superhero, broke the internet with its record-breaking reviews a week after its launch. However, after being rated as the best-reviewed MCU series on Disney Plus and a 97% critical acclaim on Rotten Tomatoes, the Kamala Khan-starrer became the lowest scored MCU series on IMDb— a surprise to many.

Forbes blames “review bombing” to be the reason behind the miniseries’ low ratings and described it as “people intentionally rated the show poorly to lower its ratings.” While some people may argue that it could be because people simply do not like it, it’s highly unlikely because other rating platforms, user reviews and Disney+ statistics prove them wrong. Given the data, it’s impossible not to see what’s going on with Ms Marvel as an outlier with malicious origins — namely discrimination against race and religion.

One-star ratings

For IMDb, Loki stands on top with an 8.2/10 rating and Ms Marvel stands as a downward outlier on the last with a 6.6/10 rating – the lowest any MCU series have been rated. However, according to the publication, when we dig further into individual statistics, the low score for Ms Marvel is due to user spamming the website with one-star reviews for the show in large numbers.

All critically acclaimed MCU series including Loki and WandaVision, have received an average of 2.5% one-star ratings in the past when Ms Marvel has, just in a week, gotten bombed with 22.2% one-star ratings. There’s clearly a bias against which the show is being review bombed without even giving it a chance.

And one can say that for sure because if you take all one-star ratings out of the picture, the show has received a polarising number of 44% of 10/10 star reviews, more than any series ever had. With all one-star spam rating removed, the MCU series is the one with the highest score of all.

Why is Ms Marvel being review bombed?

Well, there can be many reasons from unrelatable representation to racism and Islamophobia. According to American commentator, Joe Vargas, the miniseries was rated with one star within three minutes of its release, suggesting that the users did not even watch the complete episode.

Reddit and Twitter users have expressed reviews with racist, Islamophobic and sexist comments calling it ‘cringe,’ ‘childish’ and ‘wasteful’. While on the contrary, the show does the opposite. By casting Iman Vellani, a Pakistani American girl in the lead and giving other South Asian actors a chance to tell their stories of bravery and love, Marvel took a huge step forward in terms of representation in a franchise which has been dominated by White, North American Males.

Other reasons can also be because the show is essentially targeted to a teenage audience and for avid comic readers, Kamala Khan’s superpowers aren’t exactly reflective of the comic in the show.

But outlet described the “major” reasons for the review bombing to be the superhero’s skin colour and ethnic belonging. Some closed groups have reportedly protested to replace the lead with a blonde, white girl as they view a Muslim superhero as an assault on Christian values.

However, not surprising, it is still a shame that people are still repulsive of other races and religions gaining attention and their well-deserved authentic representation on mainstream media.

What is review bombing?

Review bombing simply entails a group of people spamming a platform, or multiple platforms, with reviews about a film or show to dominate and influence people’s opinion about it. While Rotten Tomatoes created a verification process to eliminate review bombers in 2019, IMDB still allows people to rate shows regardless of their limited knowledge about it. These review bombers often coordinate through a well-planned strategy by using their discourse and network to generate paid reviews.

This is a more exploitative form as most users do not actually read the reviews rather base their opinions on the ratings and scores the show has received.

About Ms Marvel

Ms Marvel is the first MCU feature to represent a Pakistani-American Muslim character as the protagonist Kamala Khan- a 16-year-old Pakistani American from Jersey City. It also stars Pakistani actors Nimra Bucha, Mehwish Hayat, Samina Ahmed, Fawad Khan and Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar in the series.

People are happy with how show maker Bisha K Ali has brought forward an almost-accurate depiction of Muslim and South Asian culture with the mentions of Bismillah, the Urdu language, popular Pakistani and Indian songs, traditional attires, desi family banter and so much more.

Never having to see this world on mainstream media, some bits of the show were apparently beyond the comprehension of the regular Marvel fan and they chose the bitter route of internet trolling.

Despite it all, what matters is that the show has gathered much critical acclaim which has added more hype for more episodes to premiere soon. The first two episodes of the show come to Pakistan’s cinemas on June 16, with the rest of the episodes due to screen in July.

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