Rita Moreno has decided to risk it all by entering the superhero-movie discourse. Undeterred by the grim fate of Martin Scorsese, who now has to field two MCU questions for every one about his films, Moreno subtweeted Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home in an Instagram post praising the cast of West Side Story. Moreno began the notable non-apology Notes app post lauding Mike Faist as the leader of the Jets in the 2021 musical extravaganza. “The first time I saw our film in a private screening I just came out rain about your extraordinary performance,” she said of Faist. Moreno then heaped praise on David Alvarez, who plays Bernardo. “As Rita Moreno, the actress, I am tickled beyond words to see the two of you scintillating as you do,” she wrote, “but as Rita Moreno, the executive producer, I could not be more proud.”
Moreno then went on to plea with audiences to see West Side Story. Presumably on the big screen, definitely for repeat viewings. And this is where the shade got thrown: “Thrills, chills, and, unlike some other films, every time you see these amazing young dancers pirouette and fly through the air, it’s under their own superb power and Abilities. Definitely not CGI.” And just when Rogers: The Musical was set to finally heal the divide between Broadway and MCU stans. No Way Home has broken pandemic box-office records, already passing $1 billion in the international box office, whereas West Side Story has been characterized as “underperforming” (as has almost every non-Spidey release this Xmas season).
On the one hand, nobody should actively seek out MCU fan enmity. You don’t want the smoke, Rita! On the other hand, this is not the most intractable battle she has taken up. Rita Moreno was an outspoken activist for civil rights and feminism when they were both emerging movements. She clashed with the original West Side Story makeup team because they insisted she wear brownface to play a Puerto Rican, despite being a Puerto Rican herself. She beat up Animal on The Muppets. If anyone can handle MCU Twitter, it’s her.