Black Panther is finally in theaters, thrilling fans and beating box office records, but for all of the success of the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some internet trolls are using the film as an opportunity to spread racially-motivated hate with fake claims of assault on Twitter.
False claims of assault on white moviegoers by African-American audiences at showings of Black Panther have been popping up on Twitter. The fake reports started popping up on Thursday, when the movie began preview screenings ahead of Friday's official opening. The posts include gruesome-looking images -- most of them featuring white women -- appearing bloody or bruised and claim that black moviegoers attacked the "victims" while claiming they didn't belong or didn't deserve to see the film because of race. However, the claims are all false with the photos used as "proof" are actually taken from other sources on the internet. Among the stolen photos being used by the trolls are images of a woman who was attacked in a Swedish bar last month (an attack completely unrelated to Black Panther,) a model in makeup from a 2013 Serbian domestic violence PSA, and even a photo of Colbie Holderness, the ex-wife of former White House staff secretary Rob Porter showing a black eye she sustained in an incident of alleged domestic abuse. You can see an example of the tweets below.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles police have said that there have been zero reports of any disturbance at theaters showing Black Panther.
These sad and disturbing fake claims are not the first-time trolls have attempted to damage Black Panther. Prior to the film's release, a group on Facebook claiming to be DC fans planned to hack Rotten Tomatoes rating systems to give the film an artificially low audience score. While the group claimed their planned attack was in response to what they felt were falsified bad press against the DCEU, the group previously had targeted Star Wars: The Last Jedi which features a diverse cast of heroes itself, leading some to wonder if the proposed attack had racist and sexist motivations. Facebook shut down the group for violation of terms of service.
When it comes to the fake Twitter claims, however, people on the social media network simply aren't having it. Many people have been calling out the fake posts, including Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who posted to encourage people to continue going out to see Black Panther, a film he described as being enjoyed by "people from all walks of life."
"The racists are out and rearing their ugly heads with lots of fake tweets about violence at #BlackPanther screenings," Gunn wrote. "In truth, people from all walks of life have been enjoying the film together this weekend. Don't let this BS scare you away."
Black Panther is now in theaters. It will be followed by Avengers: Infinity War on May 4th, Ant-Man and the Wasp on July 6th, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.