While the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the way entertainment conventions come to life, that has provided an opportunity for some epic new events to come to life. That has especially been the case for digital events, allowing fans to virtually experience epic new reveals tied to upcoming movies and shows. This October saw the second-ever DC FanDome, a four-hour virtual convention honoring the best in DC Comics movies, television, video games, and more. This past month also saw Disney+ Day, an anniversary celebration that also provided new details in the world of Marvel, Star Wars, and other franchises.
Both events brought wildly different footage for their upcoming projects, from films such as The Batman, The Flash, and Black Adam, to television shows such as Moon Knight, She-Hulk, and Ms. Marvel. Nowhere did the impact of those reveals become more apparent than on the microblogging platform Tumblr, which had a wide array of excited reactions to the movies and shows that are on the way. ComicBook.com recently chatted with Cates Holderness, Tumblr’s Trends Expert, about the hype surrounding both DC FanDome and Disney+ Day, the recent reactions to Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home, and what users are most excited for in the months to come.
(Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images, DC Entertainment)
ComicBook.com: With DC FanDome, it’s kinda wild that it was a month ago. It feels like a lifetime ago, but it also feels like it was yesterday. What did you see on Tumblr, leading up to the event itself?
Cates Holderness: There was a ton of anticipation, and a lot of questions about “What are they going to give us?” “What are we going to see clips of?” “What are we going to get trailers of?” “What announcements are they going to make?” Just a ton of speculation about it, leading up in the days before the FanDome.
Talking about the event itself — it feels like The Batman trailer broke the internet ten times over. Based on the data you’ve already shared with me, it seems like the internet — and Tumblr, in particular — really loves Robert Pattinson as Batman. What have you seen in terms of trends for that?
For sure. Robert Pattinson is pretty much universally beloved on Tumblr, for a lot of reasons. There is, of course, the residual Twilight love. But additionally, he’s been very upfront and given interviews, leading up to The Batman, that have really resonated with Tumblr. There was one in particular, where he basically was saying like, “Yeah, I’m not working out that much. My trainers are mad at me, but I just don’t want to do it.” The Tumblr community really latched onto that one. We just saw an outpouring of support, and criticism of industry standards and what’s expected of actors these days. A lot of support in that.
The day of FanDome, we saw a massive increase around engagements around The Batman tag. It was a 365% increase the day of, on [October] 16th, compared to the day before. A huge, huge increase.
But interestingly, we saw an even higher increase in engagement around The Flash. We saw 474% increase in engagement on the 16th. Folks on Tumblr really love that character. I think there’s a lot of nostalgia for The CW’s Flash series. With Justice League, we saw a lot of people really loving The Flash in that. So people are really excited that The Flash is going to get his own standalone movie.
Batman and Catwoman is kind of an enduring ship, and the The Batman trailer that aired at FanDome really hinted at their relationship, in a way we haven’t necessarily gotten on screen. Did you see any responses or trends or reactions regarding that?
Interestingly, I had expected that to appear on the ships list, but I don’t believe it did the following week. I think people are waiting to see how they set up the relationship between Batman and Catwoman. People are very excited for Selina Kyle in general. [She’s a] really beloved character. So I think people are cautiously optimistic about it, but aren’t fully invested yet. That’s my read on the kind of tone of the situation.
With The Flash, I totally know the nostalgia and the fandom that has surrounded The CW’s show. What kind of specific trends, in terms of content, are you seeing with that movie of people being excited? There’s so much to draw on between the show, the movies, the comics, everything.
Yeah! We’ve seen a lot of comparisons of how the show’s [version of] Barry Allen was kind of lighthearted. It was a much more lighthearted thing, and people I think are very excited to see a deep dive into this darker universe. We’ve seen a lot of comparisons, a lot of memes, comparing the two different versions of the character.
Last time we talked about the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer, you acknowledged the nostalgia for previous incarnations of Spider-Man. Obviously, The Flash trailer sets up Michael Keaton’s return as Batman. Is there any kind of nostalgia for his Batman movies on Tumblr? I know, from my experience, gifsets from Batman Returns always seem to pop up.
Definitely. I think there’s a ton of nostalgia for the Michael Keaton run. Tim Burton, Tumblr loves, and you really can’t go wrong with that kind of big nostalgia hit. The Michael Keaton movies, they were playful, but they were also dark in a way. Some of the later ’90s Batman movies were not necessarily gritty in that same way. People, I think, are very excited to see a return to the darker Batman, the more serious Batman.
For the other big reveals from FanDome — we had the Black Adam teaser, we had stuff for Aquaman and the Shazam! sequels. What were kind of reactions and trends regarding all of those?
I was surprised that Aquaman didn’t have bigger numbers, but people are very excited for Shazam!. They have latched onto those movies as kind of a fun, lighthearted, but also kind of dark, series. That character is really beloved, and people were very excited to get that news.
Were there any other surprises with FanDome regarding the day itself, or in the immediate aftermath, where you were really surprised that a character or a franchise was being talked about?
No, it was mainly, honestly, just Batman and Flash. That was like the two key takeaways were like, “Oh! This is what I’m going to be looking out for on my dashboard.”
Jumping forward to Disney+ Day, it was a completely different event in the way that the information was presented to people. What did you see leading up to the event itself, in terms of anticipation or speculation?
We saw a lot of speculation about “What are the new shows that we were going to get?” And then with all of the show announcements, people flipped. People flipped out.
It did. But interestingly, the biggest increase in engagements that we saw around any of those shows that were announced was around Moon Knight. It was cuckoo bananas. 125,864% increased engagements on the 12th compared to the day before.
That is so wild! I did want to ask about Moon Knight in particular, because it feels like Oscar Issac and Marvel is a match made in heaven for Tumblr.
Yeah! It was very surprising. I think part of it is that Moon Knight is a lesser-known series. So people, I think don’t know what to expect from it. I’ll be very curious [to see their reaction] as more information comes out about it.
Disney+ Day also gave us the first look at She-Hulk. I love Tatiana Maslany, and Orphan Black was one of my biggest fandoms when I was on Tumblr. I can only imagine that that fandom is super excited to see her in the MCU. What was that reaction like?
Immediate excitement. We saw a 5,243% increase in engagements around She-Hulk on the 12th. And we saw gifsets. We saw a lot of old Orphan Black fans who just kind of were like, “Oh, my gosh, it’s my girl!” We saw a lot of discussion about the character itself of She-Hulk, and how Tatiana Maslany is going to be embodying that character in an interesting way. A lot of discussion about the way that she was able to act differently in Orphan Black and embody these different characters, and really looking forward to drawing some parallels in the fandom, between that performance and the Jennifer Walters / She-Hulk performance.
We also got a new look at Ms. Marvel, because Kamala Khan is a character who was created in the advent of Tumblr. It feels like she had a fandom on the site almost immediately. We’d seen footage of her before, but what is the response, now that she’s going to be in live action?
When the Ms. Marvel series first came out in the comics, it was immediately adopted by the comic book fandom. People on Tumblr just loved the characterization and loved the story arcs. We saw a ton of excitement around Ms. Marvel on Disney+ Day. We saw a 993% percent increase in engagements, compared to the day before. People were just screaming about how excited they are to see her.
Some of the biggest Marvel surprises of the day were the new Spider-Man and X-Men animated shows. I know both of those fandoms, even just outside of animation, have a lot of fans, so were there any reactions in particular regarding those announcements?
We did see a lot of nostalgia for the X-Men one. I personally am very excited for this one. We saw a lot of excitement about that, for sure, [and] a lot of people excited that it’s going to pick up right where it ended. They’re curious to see the updated animation style. I think What If…? really prompted a lot of the fans to get into animation more, the fans who are used to live the action. So I think that show kind of primed the Marvel fandom, in general, to be more open to animated series. People are very curious to see what they’re going to be like.
Were there any Disney+ Day reveals that made waves on Tumblr that weren’t Marvel related?
There was that Luca short that came out. That trended very, very hard. But it was mainly a day for Marvel, honestly.
We spoke about Shang-Chi the last time we talked, and about how we were waiting for the digital version to be available, so people could make GIF sets and celebrate the movie. Have you seen that already, now that it is on Disney+?
The GIF artists are hard at work. They are just coming up with the most beautifully edited, beautifully captioned GIF sets. It’s so great to see this very unique movie get a second wave of love on the platform.
Since it just debuted — what has the reaction been to the second Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer?
People are excited. There’s a lot of speculation about different characters who may or may not be appearing. A lot of discussion about Gwen Stacy’s death, and the shot of MJ falling. A lot of “Peter, stop taking your girlfriends to high areas!” And a lot of excitement about Doc Ock.
Now that Eternals has come out, what from that movie has Tumblr latched on to?
People don’t seem to care about Ikaris and Sersi at all. Drukkari is the standout ship.
I should have guessed! Drukkari has taken over every bit of social media that I have seen.
It’s wild. We first saw them on the ships list. It premiered on the ships list on November 8 at #10, which already is pretty high, considering the data set. And then, this past week, it jumped up to #3, with 149% more engagements this week than last week. I think, as more people are watching Eternals, I think that ship is only going to get bigger.
What reaction have you seen to the big reveals in that movie? Harry Styles and Tumblr kind of go hand in hand, and then the Blade of it all with Black Knight and Dane Whitman of it all. What has the reaction been to that?
Yeah, there’s been a lot of people excited to see the one time that Richard Madden and Kit Harington interacted on the screen. They were very excited for that. People are curious about what is going to happen with Kit Harington’s character, and how they’re going to translate the comic book character into this movie character. And then, of course, Harry Styles. I mean, the Harry of it all. Harry’s having a big couple of weeks, for sure.
What superhero stuff — Marvel, DC, or otherwise — are you most excited to see Tumblr respond to in the next couple months?
I’m very curious about Hawkeye. I think Kate Bishop is a really fun character, and people on Tumblr are already — we got that trailer, and people started deconstructing it immediately. We saw so much enthusiasm for the one shot where you can see that Clint is wearing a hearing aid. People are so excited for that representation, that is there in the comic books, but that we haven’t seen in the MCU. So people are very excited about that. And a lot of anticipation for Lucky the Pizza Dog.
I’m really curious to see how the fans react to that, because Hawkeye can be a very controversial character in the MCU. So I’m going to be curious to see what the reception is like.
from Ultimate Comic Blog