“Have any superhero movies win an Oscar?”
The release of the film Deadpool in 2016, marked the arrival of the superhero genre into mainstream Hollywood. While the box office may have made it abundantly clear that superhero movies have been a major success in the film industry, have any of the movies won an Oscar. Well, it certainly has been overlooked, but the answer is that in fact, yes, there have been superhero movies which have won Oscars.
The superhero genre of movies have become very popular in the last decade, with many such films having grossed over a billion dollars each. With such success, one would think that they would have taken home positive recognition from award ceremonies, but sadly that is not the case. Superhero movies have mostly been restricted to the Technical or Visual effects categories.
In 2004 for instance, Spider-Man 2 won Best Visual Effects at the Academy Awards. Similarly, Batman Begins was nominated for Best Cinematography, though it did not win. The Dark Knight on the other hand, went one step further, taking home the Best Sound Editing category.
More recently, Deadpool 2 in 2018 was nominated for Best Visual Effects. It did not win, but it made clear the studios’ intentions; and 2020 saw another remarkable feat by a superhero movie. In an unexpected turn of events, Marvel’s Black Panther won the award for Best Production Design, the first feature film in the superhero genre to win within any creative category at the Academy Awards.
This is an important step towards the recognition of these films, as creative achievements and not merely commercial prospects. It is a major step forward in terms of awarding superhero films the recognition they arguably may have deserved. Although, this of course does not necessarily mean that we will soon be seeing superhero movies winning all the top categories, it certainly sets a precedent that the members of the Academy may now be of the opinion that superhero movies are worthy of more recognition than those limited to technical and visual effects.
What has been the reason behind superhero movies not winning Oscars?
Experts argue that the main reason behind superhero movies not winning Oscars is because the Academy does not view these films as serious cinematic achievements. Movies about superheroes are generally based on comic books and are seen as being commercial blockbusters by the members of the Academy. Blockbuster films tend to be aesthetically beautiful and well-crafted, but many critiques argue that they lack the necessary gravitas to be taken seriously.
The Academy is also very traditional, and many of their members are older than 60. As such, the sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero genres are not viewed favorably either. Furthermore, there seems to be a notion that these films are not ‘proper’ movies, thus any recognition of them would be seen as ‘rewarding’ of the genre, which may not be desirable to the Academy.
Do one-off win by Black Panther signify a shift in attitude?
It very well could do. It is after all, an Academy Award, and a superhero film has won one, which is remarkable. While the recognition for Black Panther was hidden away at the back of the Best Production Design category, this alone is seen as a sign for change for the genre.
Furthermore, there are also now several superhero films that are being made with the intention of being nominees for awards. Examples include Joker and Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, both of which were nominated for several Academy Awards.
The latest Marvel film, Loki, is also said to have been made in the same way, with the idea of nomination in mind. This is an interesting move by Marvel, and one that is sure to draw the attention of the Academy.
What can fans do to ensure that superhero movies are taken seriously?
One of the most important things that fans can do to ensure that superhero movies are taken seriously, is to make it clear that they are thoroughly invested in the genre, and that they recognize the artistic merit of the films produced. Fans can push for better representation within award ceremonies, and that these films can do better than those limited to technical, visual and sound effects categories.
Fans should encourage the studios, create campaigns and write open letters to award ceremonies and the members of the Academy appealing for more meaningful recognition. Furthermore, fans should also recognize and celebrate the achievements of those involved in making these films.
What more can be done to encourage award ceremonies to recognize superhero films?
To encourage award ceremonies to recognize superhero films, audiences have to show them proper support, both in the box office and critically. Furthermore, studios need to change how they approach the development of superhero films and ensure that the quality of the movies are high. They need to hire the best directors and writers to ensure that the superhero films being made can be taken seriously.
Furthermore, the Academy should include categories which better recognizing the genre. In doing so, award ceremonies will be able to recognize the excellence of superhero films and those involved in the production and development of them, properly.
What is the potential impact of a superhero film winning an Oscar?
The potential impact of a superhero film winning an Oscar is huge. It would create an important precedent and open opportunities for the genre to be taken more seriously and to be recognised as an equal in the world of cinema. It could also open up more opportunities and success to those involved in the production of these films, thus perhaps creating a cycle of more ambitious and artistically driven projects.
It could also be argued that it would be beneficial to the studios, as recognising their films as works of art would create more of an incentive to experiment, push boundaries, and create films which better the genre.
What should fans expect in the future?
In terms of Oscar recognition, it is well possible that fans could see a shift in the way superhero films are viewed by the Academy, if the studios continue pushing for recognition and if fans continue to show their support for such films. Furthermore, given the success of films such as Black Panther, Deadpool, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse and Joker, it is likely that many more films featuring superheroes or films inspired by them will be made in the future.
What is certain is that superhero films are here to stay, and potentially even flourish given the right recognition. Whether they will achieve the highest level of recognition and truly be taken as seriously as films outside of the genre, only time will tell.
The influence of superhero films around the world
The impact of superhero films has been immense around the world, with huge cultural events such as the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ premiere demonstrating the large following which such films have been able to achieve. Indeed, some of the highest grossing films of all time have been superhero films.
Moreover, these films have also been able to inspire people in terms of costume design, aspirations and loyalty. Superheroes have long been heroes to children and adults alike, and this has been reflected in popular culture. We now even have superhero statues in major cities around the world, as well as having superheroes appear in TV shows, movies and even theme parks.
Sadly, some superhero films have been met with backlash for perpetuating certain messages or ideologies, but for the most part, these films have been able to entertain a large portion of the population which is interested in such stories.
Can superhero films be considered works of art?
This is an interesting question of course, as there are many views on the matter. One would have to look at numerous aspects in order to determine whether superhero films can be considered works of art such as the structure, production design, visual effects, acting, and of course the story at hand.
Some, would argue that with the right production values, say a Martin Scorsese helmed superhero film, it is entirely possible that these films be considered works of art. The reality however is that what we have seen so far tend to focus heavily on special effects and action sequences, rather than on developing interesting stories, where these films can perhaps find the necessary substance to be recognised as works of art.
The consensus, therefore, seems to be that superhero films tend not to be considered proper works of art due to their commercial nature, though some believe that under the right conditions, it is entirely possible for such films to be seen as serious cinematic achievements.
It is clear that the genre of superhero movies have achieved great success both commercially and critically. While this has been seen in box office numbers, awards have been noticeably absent. However, this situation is slowly beginning to change, what with a superhero film winning an Oscar, albeit in the more technical categories. While this is a start, it remains to be seen if superhero films will one day be able to compete with regular films for the highest honours. Fans are certainly hoping for such an outcome, but only time will tell.