The 2018 Oscars marks a major achievement for comic book movies. This year has more Oscar nominations and wins for comic book movies than any other in the awards’ history. The genre has finally gained the awards attention it deserves. However, will comic book movies continue to get nominations or is this the peak of the genre at the Oscars?

The Iconic DC Hero to Bring the Genre to the Oscars

Surprisingly, the first nomination was decades before the current popularity of comic book movies. Many could have guessed that Christopher Reeves’ SUPERMAN received the first nomination. They would be right about the superhero. Superman was an entirely older superhero that made history.

The first comic book Oscar nomination was back in 1942. The animated short, SUPERMAN won the award for Best Animated Short. This 77-year-old short is the first time the voters chose a comic book movie. The short did lose the award to Walt Disney’s LEND A PAW. Nevertheless, this SUPERMAN short was the first time the Oscars chose a comic based movie. It wasn’t until 37 years later that the voters chose another comic book movie for an Oscar. Once again, Superman was making history at the Oscars back in 1978.

Christopher Reeves Superman
Courtesy of BigStoryFlix.com

Christopher Reeves’ SUPERMAN movie is the first time a comic book movie has received multiple nominations at the Oscars. The movie was up for the awards for Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score. It lost in all three categories. However, it did get a special achievement Oscar for visual effects. Another 11 years would pass until another comic book movie would win an Academy Award. The 1989 BATMAN movie will take home the prize for Best Art Direction. This win was the turning point for the Oscars. The genre will be recognized more often in the upcoming years after BATMAN’S win.

The Movie to Spark the Discussion on Comic Book Movie Recognition

The next twenty years will bring more nominations to the comic book genre. DICK TRACY, GHOST WORLD, ROAD TO PERDITION, and SPIDER-MAN 2 push the genre forward. These adaptations brought more big nominations to the genre. Some examples include supporting acting, screenplay, cinematography, and visual effects. The 1990s and early 2000s slowly brought the comic book genre to the voters’ attention. However, the moment to start the talks about comic book Oscar nominations would occur in 2008.

The Dark Knight
Courtesy of DualShockers.com

The comic book genre took a major turn in 2008. The Marvel Cinematic Universe began with the release of IRON MAN. However, this was not the movie to completely change public opinions on the genre. Instead, it was Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT to change mainstream opinions on comic book adaptations. THE DARK KNIGHT shapes its story and tone for a mature adult audience. Nolan proves comic books are not just for kids. They have in-depth stories and characters to revolutionize the market. The movie was such a massive success to the point of controversy when it failed to get the best picture nomination.

The Dark Knight awards
Courtesy of BamSmackPow.com

THE DARK KNIGHT received a record-breaking eight nominations in the history of the genre in 2008. The film even has the title of being the first comic book movie to win more than one award. For the first time in Oscars history, an acting performance based on a comic book character is recognized as one of the best of the year. Heath Ledger’s win was a major moment in comic book properties getting mainstream acknowledgment. In spite of that, discussions are still present about why the movie did not get a nomination for the biggest prize of the night.

Best Picture Nominations Expanding After 2008

The 2008 Academy Awards were the last time the list of best picture nominations was only five films. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, THE READER, MILK, and FROST/NIXON were chosen as the year’s best movies. How many people do you think have rewatched or recalled any of these movies ten years later? Not to discredit these films, but none of them have been discussed since then. Audiences were dissatisfied with THE DARK KNIGHT’S absence from the nominations. The movie had a big impact on cinema. The genre was once thought of as uncreditable. Finally, it is thought of as prestigious enough to warrant an Oscar nomination.

The Academy listened to their audience’s concerns. The best picture nomination since 2008 has expanded to ten movies. Finally, well reviewed mainstream movies will compete against the dramas typically chosen for the big prize. Unfortunately, a comic book movie still did not get any recognition with the expansion of nominees. After the impact of THE DARK KNIGHT, it took some time for the genre to evolve past being big, explosion-heavy blockbusters. Arguably, the next mature comic book movie to come out was in 2014 with a political espionage thriller, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER.

THE DARK KNIGHT started the trend of high-level writing and serious stakes in comic book movies. The second CAPTAIN AMERICA was the first time since 2008 that the script and story prioritized over the action. Just like THE DARK KNIGHT, audiences do not need a crash course in comics to invest in the characters and story. The movie, however, didn’t get as many Oscar nominations as THE DARK KNIGHT. Regardless, it continued to evolve into eventually reaching its record-breaking number of nominations in 2018.

2018 was the Biggest Year for Comic Book Movies at the Oscars

Spider-Man and Black Panther at the Oscars
Courtesy of ComicBook.com

Ten years have passed since the controversial absence of THE DARK KNIGHT on the Best Picture nominees list. In that decade, though, the genre has matured. Critics have warmed up to taking comic book movies seriously. The previous year’s insane catalog of well-reviewed comic book movies was the perfect time to finally recognize the genre at its biggest award. Two major comic book movies received high-level nominations at the Academy Awards; SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE and BLACK PANTHER.

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE took home the high-level animated award for the ceremony. This achievement is not the first time a comic book movie has won the prize for Best Animated Feature. Disney’s BIG HERO 6 achieved the same award four years prior. However, it is a part of Disney’s animated studio. Disney has always been the voters’ first choice for every year of animated Oscars. SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, however, won the prize against two other Disney movies. The stylized animation going back to its comics roots show how the Oscars are finally warming up to comic-based brands.

BLACK PANTHER is the major success story of the 2018 Oscars. For the first time in Oscars history, a comic book movie got a nomination for Best Picture. Voters have finally recognized the genre at having one of the best movies of the year. BLACK PANTHER is currently the most nominated comic book movie of all time. Decades of underappreciated comic book movies are decreasing with this ground-breaking achievement.

How Will the Academy Awards Treat the Genre in the Future?

BLACK PANTHER’S Best Picture nomination was a big deal. Sadly, it still didn’t win the big award. A comic book movie that wins Best Picture is still a long time away. Not every comic book movie can reach the levels of a BLACK PANTHER or THE DARK KNIGHT. It takes a quality script that pushes the line of cinematic storytelling. Fans are heavily invested in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, the Oscars would never recognize it in a writing or overall movie category.

A movie like AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR continues the long-lasting storyline told in various other films. The movie doesn’t stand on its own. The voters would never pick it as the overall best film. A franchise like HARRY POTTER fails to get the voters’ attention. Why would AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR be any different? The next comic book movie to get a Best Picture nomination needs to be a stand-alone flick that anyone can follow.

The comic book genre brings out the highest grossing movies of all time. These movies not only receive praise from fans, but critics rate them positively too. This era of cinema has blended both the critical darlings and the big blockbuster flicks. Recognition with comic book movies is eventually going to pay off. 2008 was a big year for comic book movies at the Oscars. Ten years later proved an even bigger achievement. Comic book movies have grown to mass appeal both in quality and recognition. The genre will keep evolving through the next ten years and beyond.

Many of us will see the day when a comic book movie gets the Best Picture Oscar.

2 Comments

  1. Damond Williams

    Damond Williams

    April 19, 2019 at 12:25 am

    The peak is when one wins best picture.

    Reply

  2. Chris Carney

    Chris Carney

    April 19, 2019 at 12:08 am

    Peak was batman trilogy , Nolan was robbed and black panther was whatever

    Reply

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