How Have Comicbook Movies Fared In The Oscars?

We take a look back at the history of the Oscars to see which comic book movies have been nominated and won a statuette.

Frames of 'Spider Man: No Way Home' y 'Shang Chi y la Leyenda de los Diez Anillos'

Photos: YT-Marvel Entertainment

LatinAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón

Today it seems common that most movies in the world are based on comics. In fact, the latest figures published by the specialized website Box Office Mojo indicate that 4 of the 10 films with the highest-grossing in 2021 have comic book characters as their protagonists. And although many do not believe it, this subgenre of films has been successful for decades. 

Precisely, for the 94th edition to be held on March 27, there will be a new opportunity for comics to shine on a special night. The Best Visual Effects category will have two great representatives who left very good feelings among the fans,  “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”. Although it is a close category and has three other magnificent films, the question arises if the Oscar will be able to stay with one of the two Marvel productions.

Superman and Batman: pioneers of the comics

The history between comics and the Oscar Awards began in 1941, when Superman became the first adaptation to be nominated by the Academy. Unfortunately, in that edition, he lost to a Walt Disney production for Best Animated Short Film. In 1978 he returned with his first film and won the statuette for Best Visual Effects, although he did not have the same luck in the categories of Best Sound, Best Editing, and Best original soundtrack. Finally, “Superman Returns” wanted to revalidate that visual effects award in 2006, but the second installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean” prevented it.

Just like Superman, Batman is another of the main characters of DC Comics and one of the pioneers in terms of movies. His foray into the Oscars came for the first time in 1989 with Tim Burton’s film, which was awarded the statuette for Best Artistic Direction. However, ” Batman Returns” did not have a good night in the 1992 edition and was defeated in the categories of Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup.

Three years later, in 1995, “Batman Forever” managed to get three nominations to match its predecessors. However, Joel Schumacher’s film lost the Oscar for Best Cinematography and Best Sound Effects Editing to “Braveheart,” as well as Best Sound to “Apollo 13.”

In turn, the first two installments of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy increased in both the number of nominations and the number of awards. On the one hand, “Batman Begins” did not win the Oscar for Best Cinematography in 2005, while “Batman: The Dark Knight” also had no luck for Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, Best Sound Mixing or Best Visual Effects, but it did win statuettes for Best Sound and Best Supporting Actor. 

Also read: Oscars 2022: “CODA”, an inclusive story 

The Marvel era at the Oscars

Before Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe began , Spider-Man had come to the big screen at the hands of director Sam Raimi. In 2002, and after its success at the box office, the first film was nominated for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound, although it failed to win any of them. Immediately afterwards, in 2004 it did not run with fortune in the categories of Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing, otherwise with the Best Visual Effects that could win. Finally, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” won the award for Best Animated Film in 2018.

By 2008 the era of the UCM began at the Oscars and with Iron-Man as its mainstay. But despite being the only individual trilogy to be present in three editions (2008, 2010 and 2013), Tony Stark’s character could not obtain the statuette for Best Sound Editing or Best Visual Effects on all three occasions. Precisely, this last category eluded other films: “Avengers” (2012), “Captain America: Winter Soldier” (2014), “Doctor Strange” (2016), “Avengers: Infinity War” ( 2018), “Avengers: Endgame” (2019) and the two installments of “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014 and 2017).

So far it seemed that the trend was that these types of movies would not come out of the same categories, something that “Black Panther” finally undid in 2018. The Marvel production was nominated for the first time in history for Best Picture, in addition to being present in Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Original Song. In the end, it won the Oscar for Best Costume Design, Best Production Design and Best Original Soundtrack.

Finally, we can’t fail to mention other Marvel productions that were also nominated by the Academy. “X-Men: Days of the Future Past” (2014) had incredible visual effects, but they were not enough to get a statuette. In turn, “Logan” (2017) became the first film based on a comic that was a candidate in the category Best Adapted Screenplay, which could not win. “Big Hero 6” (2014), Disney’s animated adaptation based on Marvel comics, won the Oscar for Best Animated Film.

Other movies based on comics

The history of movies based on comics contains productions that probably many are not aware of. “Dick Tracy” (1990) was an ambitious adaptation by Warren Beatty that won the Oscar for Best Art Direction, Best Makeup and Best Original Song, although it was unlucky in 5 other categories. For its part, “Road to Perdition” (2002) won Best Cinematography and also had 5 other nominations where it did not prosper.

Furthermore, other films that also ended empty-handed were “The Mask” (1994), starring Jim Carey; “Ghost World” (2001), written by Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff; “American Splendor” (2003), an autobiographical comic by Harvey Pekar; “Hellboy II: Golden Army” (2008), directed by Guillermo del Toro; “Wanted” (2008), a violent adaptation of the Mark Millar comic; and “Kaze Tachinu” (2013), an autobiographical manga about Japanese aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi.

Finally, DC Comics once again had a presence at the Oscars thanks to the wide variety of its characters. While “Suicide Squad” won a statuette for Best Makeup, the film “Joker” (2019) set a record for the most nominations for a movie based on comics with 11. In the end, it only won in the categories of Best Soundtrack and Best Actor, which went to Joaquin Phoenix to become the second actor to play that character and is awarded by the Academy.

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