Home Arts & Entertainment Beloved and Controversial: Movies of Summer 2023

Beloved and Controversial: Movies of Summer 2023


Spoiler alert: This review contains plot elements of films and references to racism and transphobia.

Over the summer many blockbusters were released, with both critics and audiences considering them going down in film history. While they may have been widely enjoyed internationally, they still aren’t left without their fair share of controversy. 


Barbie is a comedy by Greta Gerwig based on the iconic doll, also named Barbie, which was created in 1959 by Ruth Handler.

The film was loved worldwide and then some: it is the first movie from a woman director to reach over a billion dollars at the box office

Despite all of the widespread acclaim, Barbie has received pushback from Americans, claiming the movie is anti-men and too “woke” for their liking. Some causes for the discourse ranges from transgender actress Hari Nef acting in the movie to criticizing its commentary on the patriarchy.

Beyond America, the film was banned in Algeria for going against their religion and ways of life.  The film’s release was also delayed in Pakistan, the UAE, Lebanon, Kuwait, Egypt, and Bahrain for similar reasons of promoting ideals that went against their beliefs. 

However, the film was banned in Vietnam for showing a map depicting the nine-dash line in China’s favor. Despite how cartoonish and incorrect the map looked, Vietnamese officials banned the movie.

A more in-depth review of the film was recently published by 42Fifty staff reporters.


Oppenheimer is a historical drama by Christopher Nolan based on the 2005 novel American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. 

The movie goes through Oppenheimer’s experience creating the Manhattan Project, a program created to design the first atomic bomb during World War II.   The movie is already justifiably considered political as the film takes place during wartime and the creation of man’s deadliest weapon. 

The atomic bomb was only used twice since its creation, both of which were used on Japan at the end of the war. There has been no release date for “Oppenheimer in Japan as debates of whether it should even be shown in the country, especially as a release date would fall close to the dates of Peace Day, a day Hiroshima observes to memorize victims of the bomb. 

Spiderman: Across the SpiderVerse

Spiderman: Across the SpiderVerse is a superhero movie inspired by the number of Spidermen universes created. The idea of a Spiderman multiverse can be traced back to Stan Lee’s famous explanation of why he gave Spiderman the full-body suit, as anyone can be Spiderman no matter their race, gender, nationality, or creed. 

Over the course of Spiderman’s existence a number of spin-offs were made for different countries and people. For example, in the early 2000s Spiderman India was created and Gwen Stacy in 1965. 

The film is a part of a trilogy that started with Spiderman: Into the SpiderVerse back in 2018.

In the trailer of the movie, many fans pointed out a transgender flag that had “Protect Trans Kids” written on it in Gwen Stacy’s room and colors resembling the transgender flag on her father’s uniform. 

Other nations also caught this easter egg and pulled the film from theaters as quickly as they were set to show. Reports claim theaters in Egypt, the UAE, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain pulled the animation quietly from showings with little explanation as to why they did so. 

Domestically fans also had discovered new easter eggs within the film across different showings. Many praised it for being creative and playing even more off of the multiverses while others criticized it as a sign of the animators being overworked. 

A few weeks after the film was released, artists who worked on the animations had come out and stated they were encouraged to crunch and make last-minute changes by Phil Lord. This led to the animators working long and tiresome hours under constant pressure from Lord.

A more in-depth review of Oppenheimer was recently published by 42Fifty staff reporters.

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is a fantasy movie adaptation of the novel by Hans Christian Andersen. The first movie was released in 1989 with Ariel being light-skinned and red-haired, following the original description by Andersen.

The 2023 rendition of The Little Mermaid reimagined Ariel a Black woman. The decision to cast an actress of color was greeted with major backlash with claims of Disney ruining childhoods and becoming too “woke.” 

Even in China and South Korea, the film struggled at the box office, making 2.7 million USD in China and 4.4 million USD in the opening days of the film.

There was, however, a counter to all of the backlash with the movie performing well in Indonesia and the Philippines, both earning over 4 million USD. Additionally, Black parents and relatives are recording young Black girls being happy at the sight of their favorite princess looking like them. 

As many have come to believe, fame never comes without a price.

+ posts


  1. Love that a film by a director who is a woman surpassed the billion dollar mark! Glad you mentioned that in this article. Side note: I always love to read about films!!! : )

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.