Are We Ever Going to See a Superhero Win an Oscar?
Superhero movies have come a long, long way. From their humble beginnings as pure entertainment flicks, superhero movies have grown into complex tales of morality, at times even tackling real world issues that needed to be brought to light. Despite all that no actor has ever won a Best Actor or Actress Oscar for playing a superhero lead role.
However, this doesn’t mean the Academy has been snubbing the superhero genre altogether. There are a number of Oscars that have been awarded to such films in the past. Who could forget Heath Ledger’s iconic Joker, which won the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role a decade ago? There’s also the award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects which was snagged by movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and many other movies in the genre.
So, are we ever going to see a superhero win an Oscar? The answer to that depends on a number of factors that affect Film Academy decisions.
For instance, the people who vote on Oscar awards are notoriously old school. As of 2012, the average age for Academy members is 62. It’s not exactly the demographic targeted by the genre. While Academy members can’t ignore the technical achievements of superhero films, most of them do come from an era when superhero films were not considered a serious genre. Even Screen Rant posed the question, “When will the Academy begin to recognize that superhero movies have grown up?”
The answer to that last question only raises even more questions about the superhero genre. Have these movies grown up enough to warrant wins in the biggest and most popular award categories?
Yes and no. It’s true that superhero films have grown beyond just pushing the boundaries of technical achievements in film. Apart from its effects, the script for Guardians of the Galaxy makes it one of the most entertaining, feel-good action-comedies of this decade. Logan had a good enough combination of action and drama to warrant at least a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. This year, Black Panther was a technical tour de force in terms of production, costume design, visual effects, and screenplay. Yet at the same time, it tackled a number of past and current issues, such as racial inequality, relevant to the modern world, which would be attractive to Oscar voters.
Does this mean that we can expect certain superheroes to be taking Oscars back home to Wakanda in 2019? Vox seems to think that Black Panther has a chance as it was referenced at the Oscars multiple times, and seen by many as “not just another superhero movie”. In terms of Chadwick Boseman winning Best Actor, the entertainment site notes that Michael B. Jordon, like Heath Ledger, has a better chance as the villain. Yet with some of the industry’s best actors playing superheroes, including some like Brie Larson who have already won an Oscar, we are much likely now to see a superhero on stage collecting a golden statue.
People have long speculated about whether or not we’re ever going to see a superhero win an Oscar. And it’s a good question. The superhero genre has managed to infiltrate nearly every other aspect of pop culture. Comic book characters have birthed movies, Netflix series, spin-offs, short films, costumes, toys, museum art, and online games. Such is the prevalence of the genre that it has even created its own sub genre of characters inspired by popular superheroes. Foxy Bingo has a number of games inspired by popular superheroes, including Amazon Queen which is a take on the character of Wonder Woman. Beyond merchandise and online gaming, films like Black Panther and Wonder Woman have raised critical discussions about women’s liberation and racial justice in the real world. Superhero movies are among the film industry’s biggest gross earners and influencers. Considering that superheroes have literally changed this world, it’s high time that at least one of them wins an Oscar.