Every film fan is shaped by their own personal experiences. I told you about my cartoon-filled childhood but I know some people who grew up on R-rated films like Terminator and action films like Die Hard and generally don’t gravitate towards animated films because they are seen as juvenile. I am the complete opposite because I do not have anything against gritty action films but I tend to gravitate more towards Jonny Quest than John McClane.

Similarly a woman who grew up watching rom-coms may find action films lack emotion or sci-fi is not grounded enough in reality, and older people who grew up on classic films might find modern films intolerable while younger fans might find it impossible to watch something like Casablanca.

None of these feelings are right or wrong. They are just opinions. And it’s important to keep this in mind whenever you see someone say something about a movie that you disagree with.

Remember when the movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was practically adored by every single critic on Rotten Tomatoes except for one guy? You might say that guy is a moron, and he is, but it doesn’t matter if he’s a moron because that opinion that he had was a valid one. Not because I agree with it but because he truly believed that what he was saying made sense.

I know most of you are smart enough to know all this stuff I’m saying is true, but the reason I am talking about this is because I’ve recently noticed a disturbing amount of venom on Twitter aimed at people whose opinions differ from their own, which leads me to toxic fandoms.

When we grow up watching and loving certain types of films, sometimes our devotion to those movies can be powerful. I am a life-long Disney fan and am therefore a part of the Disney fandom, but something that often happens when you are part of a fandom is that you run into people who dislike the things that you like. I sometimes run into anti-Disney individuals but instead of getting into a bloody brawl with them, I am mature enough to understand that everyone is different and will therefore have opinions that are radically different from my own (although secretly I still want to punch them).

What I just described is a healthy fandom and it’s honestly what every film fan should aspire to, but for many people when they hear someone say something bad about a film they love, they tend to react as if they have just been personally attacked, because that’s often what it feels like when someone insults something that means a lot to you, same as when someone insults your husband or your daughter or your best friend. It’s like someone is telling you that you are wrong to like that movie you love. And unfortunately the natural reaction to this is often anger.

This is the main problem among many devoted fans. When your devotion to something becomes cult-like, you will attack anyone who disagrees with you. Not only with insults but with threats.

I know film critics who have literally gotten death threats because they gave certain films bad reviews. Nowhere is toxic fandom more pronounced than with Zack Snyder fans. A certain group of these fans have formed a relentless mob on Twitter that regularly demands that Warner Bros. release the director’s cut of the 2017 film Justice League often accompanied with the hashtag “#ReleaseTheSnyderCut” (a hashtag I have truly come to despise) and they regularly harass people who aren’t blindly loyal to DC films, especially Marvel fans.

This is what happens when you let your passion consume you. I’m okay with passionate film fans, but the constant need to have your fandom validated by awards shows, critics and strangers on social media needs to stop. This is not what movies are about and it’s certainly not how the filmmakers behind these films want the people who watch their films to act.

We have reached the point where Star Wars fans act like they have more authority than George Lucas himself on what Star Wars movies should be like, and that was especially evident when the sequel trilogy came out and both The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker received scorn from fans, despite those movies being complete opposites of each other. The scorn from fans is enough to turn actors like Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose Tico in both of those movies, off of Twitter.

So next time you read something on Twitter that makes you angry (and you almost certainly will), remember that we are all individuals with opposing viewpoints and do something different like ask them why they feel the way they do. You might get a fresh perspective and even understand where they are coming from, even if you don’t agree with them. You can do the same thing with other subjects besides films too. You might make an unlikely friend out of a potential enemy, just like these two superheroes from the Marvel and DC universes who apparently get along swimmingly. All you crazy fans need to be more like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel.