The Marvel Cinematic Universe has released over thirteen films, and delighted critics and audiences alike in creating a film world akin to that of a real life comic book series. Nevertheless, when it comes to the Academy, no film from the franchise has yet to win a golden statuette. This could all change, however, as Captain America: Civil War — considered to be one of the very best films they've made — is being submitted for Oscar consideration.
If they are successful, Civil War could become the first superhero movie to be nominated for best picture. Given the scarcity of great summer films that were released this year, coupled with the fact that many major Oscar contenders are yet to be screened, there is a chance Civil War could sneak into contention for the biggest award of them all. This would reflect the Oscars' desire to go more mainstream — evidence when the Academy expanded the amount of nominees from five to a potential ten in 2009, leading to more genre-style pictures such as The Martian and Inception to get nominated.
But how have superhero films succeeded historically at the Oscars? Lets take a look at some of the biggest successes.
Considered the film that first successfully introduced superheroes into the world of film, Superman was a runaway commercial and critical hit, and Christopher Reeve was made into a star. With a screenplay by Mario Puzo of Godfather fame, and featuring supporting performances by Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman, Superman did extremely well at the Oscars, winning a special achievement award for its innovative visual effects, as well as nominations for Best Film Editing and for its iconic John Williams score.
The Batman of 1989 was a revelation. Too long relegated to the land of camp, Tim Burton's vision saw a much darker version of The Caped Crusader. As is custom with a Tim Burton movie, the film utilised exquisite production design to create a truly neo-gothic metropolis. Anton Furst and Peter Young were rewarded for their efforts with an Oscar for Best Production Design.
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Generally considered to be the best Spider-Man movie, and one of the most relatable superhero movies ever made for its depiction of Peter Parker as both a regular guy and a deliverer of justice, Spider-Man 2 was rewarded at the Oscars for its visual effects. With a villain as memorable as Dr. Octopus, Spider-Man 2 simply had to win.
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The Incredibles (2004)
The only superhero movie on this list not based on either a DC or Marvel property, Pixar's The Incredibles — which looked at an average family with extra-special powers — won awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Sound Editing, showing that superhero movies don't need to be based on any existing properties to be successful.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The pinnacle achievement of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, there was genuine outrage when The Dark Knight was not nominated for Best Picture. It was telling that after this snub, the amount of films eligible for nomination the next year was actually increased. Nevertheless, the best Batman movie ever won a posthumous Oscar for Heath Ledger's unforgettable Joker and also scooped up the award for Best Achievement in Sound Editing.
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Big Hero 6 (2014)
Based on a Marvel property few people had even heard of, the children's film Big Hero 6 won an Oscar for Best Animated Film. With gorgeous animation and the lovable Totoro-like Baymax as the film's heart, Big Hero 6 is the last superhero film to have won an Oscar. The only superhero film nominated at all last year was Sanjay's Super Team, which garnered a nod for Best Animated Short.
Could Civil War Be Nominated?
The first thing that really stands out, that when comparing Marvel vs DC, DC comes out on top, with five Oscars to Marvels two, including that all-important acting win. Heath Ledger's win as the Joker in The Dark Knight came due to that film's extremely morally ambivalent tone and embrace of much weightier themes. Seeming as Civil War appears to be the most grown-up and adult of the MCU films so far, it has a better chance than most of finally getting a nod for the prestigious award.
With The Dark Knight's picture snub coming during the age of only five best picture nominees, it is safe to assume that if there had been more spaces it would have gotten into contention. Being the stand-out in a weak year for mainstream movies, and harbouring an almighty rotten tomatoes score of 90% - plus the diversity make up of Academy increasing - Civil War has a real chance of being considered for Best Picture. This could be the year superhero movies finally get the recognition they deserve.
Should Civil War Be Nominated For Best Picture?
Source: Marvel Studio News