Oscars Remain Superhero Free

The nominees for the 88th Academy Awards were released last week and once again, no superhero themed movies were among the nominees for Best Picture. It’s easy to see why none were picked this time. There were three major superhero movies released: Avenges: Age of Ultron, which did well at the box office, but paled in comparison to the first Avengers movie; Ant-Man, which got mostly positive reviews but was forgettable; and then there was Fantastic Four, which was dreadful.


In previous years, though, that has not been the case. The superhero genre has turned out some of the most well-liked movies of the past decade and none of them, even the modern classics of the genre, have been largely ignored. While the Academy has never bowed to public pressure, it is interesting that superhero movies continue to be the most consistent moneymakers at the theaters. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has already established itself as the most profitable movie franchise in history and there will be seven major superhero releases this year alone.

People see these movies because they enjoy the genre, but also because a lot of them have been good. Sure, there have been some stinkers, but that could be said for any movie category. Let’s look at some of the biggest superhero movies of recent times and see what beat them out for a chance at the statue.

Spider-Man 2 (2004): The second movie in Tobey Maguire’s version of Spider-Man might be the best superhero movie ever made, as this article explains. In this film, we see Peter Parker take it on the chin. He loses his best friend and his best girl, which makes him question if he wants to be Spider-Man. That internal turmoil fuels the entire movie, bringing a complexity to superheroes that many moviegoers never knew existed. Both this, and our next movie, may have been victims to the old system. Before 2009, only five movies got Best Picture nominations. If the list was expanded to the maximum of 10 as it is now, Spider-Man 2 would surely have been selected along with…

Iron Man (2008): In a career-changing performance, Robert Downey Jr. brings a coolness to movie screens that rivals that of icons like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. The movie itself was a perfect version of the superhero origin story, showing inventor Tony Stark’s transition from playboy executive to Iron Man. The fact is that Iron Man as a character was never nearly as popular until this movie brought him to the public consciousness. This movie was so good that its sequels, Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3, have even spawned their own popular online games at this gaming site. Those things don’t happen from a poor movie, especially when you take note that other well-made films (Blade and Thor, among them) have their own games, too.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): This one deserved better. A breakout success, the movie was the second highest-grossing film of 2014 in North America. It gained rave reviews for its humor, soundtrack, visual effects, direction and acting and as one post explains, did everything right. It was a fantastic film that got nothing at Oscar time. Instead, films like The Theory of Everything, which historians say is an inaccurate telling of Stephen Hawking’s life, and Boyhood received nominations. It appears the Academy would rather pick over-dramatic duds than widely popular movies everyone (from age 6 to 86) can enjoy.

What do you think? Are there other notable comic book films that you think should have deserves Academy Awards nods?

by Fred Madison



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