Home Entertainment Will Deadpool & Wolverine Get Everyone on the Same Page for the MCU? 

Will Deadpool & Wolverine Get Everyone on the Same Page for the MCU? 

by Scott Kacsmar
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When Deadpool & Wolverine is released this summer, it will be the 34th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). However, it will break new ground as the first R-rated feature in the MCU and by bringing back beloved characters Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to the big screen.

We have not seen a full Wolverine performance from Jackman since his best film, Logan, which was released in 2017. Likewise, Deadpool 2 came out in 2018, so it has been 6 years since either has had a sequel this big.

While expectations are high for Deadpool & Wolverine, much has changed in the comic book movie industry since 2017-18. There has been oversaturation with the MCU continuing to release multiple films a year as well as several TV series on Disney+ that you often need to watch to get the full story of this shared universe. Many of those shows, especially She-Hulk and Secret Invasion, have not been well received nor have some of the MCU films in Phases 4 and 5.

We have also seen the end of the disappointing DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Starting in 2018, Sony’s Spider-Man Universe kicked off as a companion to the MCU, but the films have largely bombed or been underwhelming at best, including Venom and its sequel, Morbius and Madame Web.

Maybe people are finally getting tired of the comic book film craze. The studios and streaming services went overkill with it.

But BetOnline, a top-rated sportsbook, has a betting market for Deadpool & Wolverine that suggests audiences are not tired of these movies just yet. You can bet on whether the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes will be over or under 90.5% for Deadpool & Wolverine.

Currently, over 90.5% is the favorite with -160 odds but, should it be? Let’s look at the point when audiences and critics started to differ on the MCU, and if Deadpool & Wolverine can get them back on the same page this summer with an experimental R-rated release for Disney.

The Early MCU Phases: Critics and Audiences in Harmony

If you have used popular film and TV review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes over the years, you know the Tomatometer (critics’ score) and audience score can wildly differ.

For example, Madame Web (2024) was absolutely detested by critics with a 12% rotten score, but the audience score was a little more respectable at 57%. Still bad, but that is a significant difference of 45 percentage points.

However, in many cases, the critics and audience are closer in agreement, especially for films of a higher quality. Here are some comparisons of scores at Rotten Tomatoes (RT) for some of the past year’s top movies:

  • Oppenheimer: 93% critics, 91% audience
  • Barbie: 88% critics, 83% audience
  • Killers of the Flower Moon: 93% critics, 84% audience
  • American Fiction: 93% critics, 96% audience
  • John Wick Chapter 4: 94% critics, 93% audience
  • The Holdovers: 97% critics, 92% audience
  • Anatomy of a Fall: 96% critics, 90% audience
  • Dune Part Two: 93% critics, 95% audience

All of those scores are within 9 percentage points of each other, and most are within 5 percentage points. That’s a close and consistent alignment between critics and audience.

When the MCU started with Iron Man in 2008, we saw great consistency in the scores between critics and audiences. In fact, the first 7 MCU movies all were within 5 percentage points of each other between the critic and audience scores at RT.

The first case of a slight disagreement was with Thor: The Dark World, which only had 67% from critics and 75% from audiences, so audiences were 8 percentage points higher. That’s still pretty close to what should objectively be considered one of the worst MCU movies, especially from the early phases.

But after that disappointing sequel, the MCU got on a hot streak with audiences and critics both enjoying the films at similarly high rates:

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: 90% critics, 92% audience
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: 92% critics, 92% audience
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron: 76% critics, 82% audience
  • Ant-Man: 83% critics, 85% audience
  • Captain America: Civil War: 91% critics, 89% audience
  • Doctor Strange: 89% critics, 86% audience
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: 85% critics, 87% audience
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming: 92% critics, 87% audience
  • Thor – Ragnarok: 93% critics, 87% audience

It was like Marvel could do no wrong.

Then 2018 came and there was a shift to more extreme opinions online, and agenda-based scores (“review bombing”) started taking over sites like RT, IMDb and Letterboxd thanks to social media campaigns. Someone is always trying to boycott something these days.

Critics and Audiences Falling Out of Harmony

With the 2018 release of Black Panther, the MCU had its highest-rated movie yet from critics with a 96% fresh score, still the highest of any of the 33 entries in the MCU. While audiences enjoyed it too, the audience score is sitting at 79%, a difference of 17 percentage points that is more than double the biggest difference in the first 20 MCU movies.

What happened here? It cuts both ways. Critics were likely being too generous with Black Panther, a film most do not consider the best of the best in the MCU, because they didn’t want to come off as “racist” online by saying anything remotely critical about the first Marvel movie with a predominantly Black cast led by the late, great Chadwick Boseman.

Then, actual racist people review-bombed the movie to lower its score as best they could just because of the predominantly Black cast and themes. This is the world we live in today.

Similarly, in 2019, Captain Marvel was released with Brie Larson playing the first female lead in the MCU. Critics liked it at 79% on RT, but audiences dropped the score to 45%, a decline of 34 percentage points that doubled the drop for Black Panther a year earlier. That 45% audience score is also the only MCU release to be under 69% through 2023.

Again, this was a case of review bombing as many were leaving negative reviews before the film was even released in theaters. Objectively, Captain Marvel is an average film for the MCU. It should really fall somewhere between those scores of 45% and 79%.

But before we start criticizing the audiences for racism and misogyny, you could say the review tactics used against Black Panther and Captain Marvel were turned around for those movies’ sequels years later as well as other female-driven and minority-led films in the MCU:

  • Black Widow (2021): A prequel headlined by Scarlett Johansson’s character, has a 91% fresh score from audiences compared to 79% for critics.
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021): Is the first predominantly Asian-led cast in the MCU, and its 98% audience score is as high as any MCU film (critics gave it 91% fresh).
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022): Even without Boseman, has a 94% score from audiences, which is 11 percentage points higher than its Tomatometer (83%).
  • Eternals (2021): Was the first MCU movie directed by a woman of color (Chloé Zhao), and while critics were way down on it (47%), patient audiences have increased its score by 30 percentage points to 77%.
  • The Marvels (2023): A sequel to Captain Marvel, received an 82% score from audiences, which is 20 percentage points higher than critics (62%).

Make of this trend what you will from a motivational standpoint, but the fact is audiences are breaking away from the critics in ways they didn’t during the first half of the MCU.

Charting the Scores for Critics and Audiences for the MCU

Finally, we have prepared a chart to show the change over time of the differences between the RT scores for critics and audiences for the 33 MCU films in order of release:

You can see how things went from being so in lockstep to audiences (in orange) starting to dip on Black Panther and Captain Marvel before rebounding to outpace the critics (in blue) for almost every release now.

For the first 17 MCU movies, the correlation between critic and audience scores was a whopping 0.92, and the average difference in score (absolute value) was just 2.9 percentage points.

For the last 16 MCU movies since Black Panther, the correlation between critic and audience score is just 0.33, and the average difference in score (absolute value) is up to 14.5 percentage points.

Did critics have enough of the MCU after Avengers: Endgame in 2019? That was the last time their score was higher than the audience as the last 11 MCU movies have all been higher in audience score than the critics. Eight of the last 10 MCU movies have seen the audience at least 11 percentage points higher than the critics, something that never happened once during the first 23 MCU releases.

Apparently, the audiences are still enjoying themselves. The last 12 entries all have an audience score of at least 76%.

Will Deadpool & Wolverine Clear 90% with Audiences?

So, how might Deadpool & Wolverine fare when it releases July 26, 2024 in the United States? We have it on good authority that audiences will be kinder to it than the critics at RT, but it was surprising to see these numbers for the recent films from these characters:

  • Deadpool (2016): 85% critics, 90% audience
  • Logan (2017): 93% critics, 90% audience
  • Deadpool 2 (2018): 84% critics, 85% audience

BetOnline might be pulling a fast one on us by making it over/under 90.5% instead of over/under 89.5%. Even Deadpool and Logan didn’t hit 91% to hit the over, and it is hard to nail a 3rd-entry sequel like this even if it is a fresh take with the move to the MCU and addition of Wolverine. But my gut says this movie will not be as good as the first Deadpool or Logan.

It might be worth pointing out that Shawn Levy, the film’s director, directed Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy (2021), which has a 94% audience score, improving on its 80% critic score.

No one is going to be review-bombing Reynolds and Jackman, but the best advice is to take the comic book fatigue, the difficulty of making another sequel and we’ll go with the value from Under 90.5% for that audience score.

Pick: Audience Score for Deadpool & Wolverine Under 90.5% (+120) at BetOnline

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Scott Kacsmar
NFL football picks are Scott Kacsmar's expertise, serving as his main focus. He has contributed to various sports websites and blogs, such as NBC Sports, ESPN Insider, FiveThirtyEight, and, JoeWager. Originating from Pittsburgh, Scott maintains a love-hate connection with the Pirates.

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