The Ratings Game

I find it interesting how movies are rated on Rotten Tomatoes which is rather deceiving. For example, I will use the following top 5 superhero films to explain how it works:

  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • Iron Man (2008)
  • Spider-man 2 (2004)
  • Logan (2017)
  • Wonder Woman (2017)

OK, as of today, here are the ratings for all five of these films on Rotten Tomatoes.

  1. The Dark Knight 94%
  2. Iron Man 94%
  3. Spider-man 2 93%
  4. Wonder Woman 93%
  5. Logan 93%


The Breakdown

OK, so, as you will notice, The Dark Knight and Iron Man slightly edge out Spider-man 2, Logan and Wonder Woman 94% to 93%  but let’s take a closer look before we crown Batman & Iron Man the champs….

The way Rotten Tomatoes works is kind of strange. The rating does not mean that the film has averaged the score they get… in this case 94% and 93%. What it means in actuality is that 94% of all critics rated the film above average. So this is sometimes a bit controversial as not all critics use the same rating system or scale. Some rate movies on a traditional 5 star system while others use 4 stars and others on a scale from zero to 10. It’s common to see 2.5 out of 5 stars be considered rotten ratings which hurts the score. This happened with Wonder Woman for example.

If you look closer at the rating, right underneath the big score you will see “Average Rating” which is the actual average of all the critical ratings. So if we rank these 5 all-time leaders for superhero movies according to the average critical rating from all critics then it looks like this:

  1. The Dark Knight  8.6
  2. Spider-man 2     8.3
  3. Logan                 7.9
  4. Iron Man            7.7
  5. Wonder Woman 7.6

So you see there is a difference here. This reflects the average rating from all of the same critics that generated the big Rotten Tomato score.

By the way, let’s not ignore the ratings from audiences–namely us, the movie goers. I always pay much more attention to that score than so-called professional critics. If we ranked these three movies by audience scores then it shapes up like this:

  1. The Dark Knight  94%
  2. Wonder Woman  92%
  3. Iron Man              91%
  4. Logan                  91%
  5. Spider-Man 2       81%

So it’s obvious that audiences did not agree with the consensus of the critics. Not even close.  I think this is important to note because after all, movies are really made for us the fans not the critics.

Let’s dive deeper and rank these films according to the average score by audiences. For some strange reason, Rotten Tomatoes bases average ratings from critics on a scale of 10 but audience averages are based on a scale of 5 stars. Heh.

  1. Wonder Woman 4.5 
  2. The Dark Knight 4.4
  3. Logan                 4.4
  4. Iron Man             4.2
  5. Spider-Man 2      3.5

Let’s hear it for the girl!!! Wonder Woman (at this time anyway) edges out all the boys by averaging a 4.5 out of 5 stars from audiences.

Let’s take a look at Metacritic which is the top rating service that rivals Rotten Tomatoes. As you will notice they have a much simpler system from zero to 100. They basically average all of the ratings from critics much like the average rating measurement from Rotten Tomatoes. So an 83 MetaScore on MetaCritic is the same as an 8.3 average rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

So here’s the roundup on Metacritic for these superhero movies:

  1. Spider-Man 2       83
  2. The Dark Knight  82
  3. Iron Man              79
  4. Logan                  77
  5. Wonder Woman  76


So which superhero movie is the best rated of all-time? Which system do you go by? Who cares? LOL..yeah that’s what I’m thinking at this point. I just wanted to explain the differences between the most popular rating systems. It’s not really about ratings. It’s about making audiences happy in the end.