The Macksey Journal


Recently, there has been a public push for the film industry to improve female representation; subsequently, DC and Marvel released Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel to both critical praise and record box office figures. Strictly looking at industry measures of success (critics’ reviews and box office totals) it would appear that the industry and public are demanding more films with similar female representation. However, public opinion cannot be captured by critical interpretation and viewership alone; it is important to understand both how audiences feel after viewing a film and which aspects did or did not resonate with them. With my research, I aimed to study a portion of the discourse being spread about these films on the internet to try and uncover an untold aspect of their public reception. I read and coded meaningful sentiments from the first 250 IMDb user reviews for each film to try and evaluate audiences’ perspectives on themes. This sentiment speaks to changes within the gender culture of the film industry as well as the viability of these films in the future. I found that reviewers primarily took issue with the films’ portrayal of feminism as well as actresses’ actions both outside of the film and within. Incidentally, I also found that reviewers took issue with aspects not related to the films’ content including the moderation of review platforms as well as how the films compared to previous installments within their respective universes. In general, I found that the user critics on IMDb were much less welcoming to these female lead films as previous measures of success would indicate. Using influence from theories about spectatorship, feminism, the superhero genre, paratexts, and convergence culture, I express these findings in a summary report that explores discourse that surrounds female representation within the film industry.