Box Office Rewards, But Where are the Awards?

By Josh Baker on June 16, 2019

Superhero movies are arguably the most successful genre in Hollywood these days. Not only have many of them revolutionized the way we tell stories, but they have also created content that people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities can enjoy together. They make us laugh, cry, and cheer, while also pulling in millions or billions of dollars.

With so many superhero movies coming out within the past 20+ years, naturally, some of them have received at least one Oscar nomination — and others have even won. Here are the ones that have been nominated or snagged an award. (Bold = win)

  1. Superman (1978)

    1. Best Visual Effects

    2. Best Sound

    3. Best Film Editing

    4. Best Original Score

  2. Batman (1989)

    1. Best Art Direction-Set Decoration

  3. Batman Returns (1992)

    1. Best Visual Effects

    2. Best Makeup

  4. The Mask (1994)

    1. Best Visual Effects

  5. Batman Forever (1995)

    1. Best Cinematography

    2. Best Sound

    3. Best Visual Effects

  6. Men in Black (1997)

    1. Best Makeup

    2. Best Art Direction-Set Decoration

    3. Best Original Score

  7. Spider-Man (2002)

    1. Best Visual Effects

    2. Best Sound

  8. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

    1. Best Visual Effects

    2. Best Sound Mixing

    3. Best Sound Editing

  9. The Incredibles (2004)

    1. Best Animated Picture

    2. Best Sound Editing

    3. Best Sound Mixing

    4. Best Original Screenplay

  10. Batman Begins (2005)

    1. Best Cinematography

  11. Superman Returns (2006)

    1. Best Visual Effects

  12. Iron Man (2008)

    1. Best Visual Effects

    2. Best Sound Editing

  13. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

    1. Best Makeup

  14. The Dark Knight (2008)

    1. Best Supporting Actor

    2. Best Sound Editing

    3. Best Visual Effects

    4. Best Cinematography

    5. Best Film Editing

    6. Best Art Direction

    7. Best Makeup

    8. Best Sound Mixing

  15. Iron Man 2 (2010)

    1. Best Visual Effects

  16. The Avengers (2012)

    1. Best Visual Effects

  17. Iron Man 3 (2013)

    1. Best Visual Effects

  18. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2013)

    1. Best Visual Effects

  19. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

    1. Best Visual Effects

  20. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

    1. Best Visual Effects

  21. Big Hero 6 (2014)

    1. Best Animated Picture

  22. Suicide Squad (2016)

    1. Best Makeup & Hairstyling

  23. Doctor Strange (2016)

    1. Best Visual Effects

  24. Logan (2017)

    1. Best Adapted Screenplay

  25. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

    1. Best Visual Effects

  26. Black Panther (2018)

    1. Best Production Design

    2. Best Costume Design

    3. Best Original Score

    4. Best Picture

    5. Best Original Song

    6. Best Sound Editing

    7. Best Sound Mixing

  27. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

    1. Best Visual Effects

  28. Incredibles 2 (2018)

    1. Best Animated Picture

  29. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

    1. Best Animated Picture

In total, 10 out of 29 superhero movies have accumulated 14 Oscar wins out of 57 nominations. While plenty of these wins were well-deserved, many people (including myself) believe that the Oscars still do not give superhero movies the respect they deserve. Superhero movies should be nominated more often for more than just the technology-related awards (they have been nominated for Best Visual Effects a total of 18 times, and have only won it once).

I am still shocked that the only Oscar that Logan (2017) was nominated for was Best Adapted Screenplay. How was it not nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Hugh Jackman), Best Supporting Actor (Sir Patrick Stewart), and Best Supporting Actress (Dafne Keen)?

And how did Avengers: Infinity War (2018) not get nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Josh Brolin), Best Supporting Actor (Robert Downey Jr. Tom Holland) Best Supporting Actress (Zoe Saldana), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score (Alan Silvestri)?

The Oscars most often seem to give Best Picture nominations to movies that are emotionally crippling and/or excessively artsy. Additionally, many of the nominees were not popular amongst the general public. Countless times, I have read the nomination lists every year thinking “I’ve never even heard of that movie.” Even if a nominee is not my type of film, I would have at least heard about it via a poster or trailer.

Does the Academy have something against action-dramas? Either they do not give them any nominations (i.e. Mission: Impossible – Fallout), or they nominate them for something and they lose to an inferior. (How did First Man win Best Visual Effects this year against Avengers: Infinity War, Ready Player One, and Solo: A Star Wars Story?)

I honestly have no idea why the Academy refuses to nominate superhero movies for more of the quality-related Oscars. Granted, there was a brief time during the mid-to-late 1990s where most of them were far below average, but they have certainly stepped up their game since then. With their elaborate world-building skills and compelling character development, the Oscars should really give them more of a chance instead of nominating movies that simply bank on making people emotionally exhausted.

What makes this even more mind-boggling is that when Black Panther (2018) became the first superhero movie to ever be nominated for Best Picture, the general response from many fans was “I guess it was good, but was it really that good?” The nomination proved that the Academy is making progress in accepting superhero movies as Oscar-caliber productions.

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