With the official announcement of nominations for the 89th Academy Awards, comic book movie fans once again see their favorite movies under-represented. While only three of 2016’s seven comic book movies were well-received by critics, many fans were hoping to see more nominations, particularly from Deadpool.
While sci-fi has been slowly gaining awards traction for years, comic book movies have a long ways to go before breaking out of their place in the technical categories. This year there are two comic book movies that garnered nominations, Doctor Strange and Suicide Squad.
Doctor Strange is the seventh MCU film to get an Oscar nomination for Visual Effects, with only two other movies ever getting noticed in other categories – Iron Man for Sound Editing, and Guardians of the Galaxy for Makeup and Hairstyling. Despite the numerous nominations, Marvel Studios has yet to get a win. Is it possible Doctor Strange will break that trend?
It’s true that Doctor Strange’s trippy dimension hopping exhibited some of the most impressive visual effects work of the MCU to date, but other parts of the film still drew similar criticism to other Marvel movies when digital bodies looked not quite right, or a blue screen background was a little too obvious.
Nonetheless, Strange’s visuals give it a fighting chance, but the competition is tough with films like Jungle Book and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story also getting nominated in the same category. While at least one comic book movie is featured in this category almost every year, the only time a comic book adaptation actually won the award was Spider-Man 2 in 2004. Superman: The Movie got a Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects, as most of the films in this category did in the ’70s, but without other nominations, it doesn’t qualify as a competitive award.
The other comic book movie getting attention in 2017’s Oscars is Suicide Squad. After both Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were savaged by critics, the DC movie brand became sort of a punchline for many people, used simply as shorthand to describe something that’s a failure on all levels. Proving that outright dismissal of the film might be a bit extreme, and Suicide Squad did at least one thing right, the movie earned a nomination for Makeup and Hairstyling.
Comic book movies get a little less attention from the Makeup and Hairstyling category when compared to the Visual Effects or sound editing categories, but they do have a presence. With Star Trek Beyond and A Man Called Love being the only other nominees in the category, Suicide Squad has a fairly good shot at becoming an Oscar winning movie.
Despite the critical backlash, it’s important that movies like Suicide Squad get recognition for what they do well. Even though fans didn’t unanimously appreciate the Joker’s appearance or portrayal, the technical application of his look, along with characters like El Diablo, Enchantress (pre-transformation), Harley Quinn, and especially Killer Croc, was all top notch work.
Win or lose for either film, fans of the genre (at least those that can get past and DC vs. Marvel rivalry) should be happy to see these movies get any sort of critical attention during awards season. With movies like Deadpool getting more serious looks, and films like Logan that take the genre in a more serious direction in 2017, fans just might live to see the day when superheroes have more prominence in categories for performances, directing, writing, or even Best Picture one day.