It’s no secret that Warner Bros’ answer to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe – the DC Extended Universe – has gotten off to a few false starts. The first entry, Man of Steel, received mixed reviews, and its follow-ups, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice andSuicide Squad, were critically panned. Only Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman has thus far broke the series’ losing streak. The latest instalment, Justice League, has fared only slightly better than Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad.

Yet the DCEU’s critical maulings have hardly dampened hardcore fans’ enthusiasm for the series. Indeed, a small but significant base of fans have become even more zealous in their fervour for the antics of the caped crusader and his super friends. There are even campaigns for fans to see the film multiple times to make up for its lower-than-expected box office takings, and for the studio to release director Zack Snyder’s original cut before his departure from the project.

Passionate fan cultures in science fiction and fantasy are nothing new, of course – one need only look at properties like Star WarsLord of the Rings or Buffy the Vampire Slayer to see that. And most fan spaces are an inclusive and diverse place that welcome and connect people through their shared passions. But there is a growing trend in modern – invariably male – fan culture that is suspicious both of criticism and anyone perceived as outside ‘the club’. Worse still, there is a contingent of hyper-masculine fandom that increasingly resembles the paranoid, chest-beating ‘fake news’ rhetoric of contemporary far-right political discourse.

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