It’s easy to criticize superhero franchises, with “repetitive” and “money-orientated” just two adjectives often used to describe comic-book movies and their sequels, prequels and re-boots. But some of these films rank with the best films of their respective years, with “Captain America: Civil War” being the latest example (an absolute masterpiece in my humble opinion). Yes, at their worst they are lazy attempts at storytelling to earn some money or clutch onto some movie rights. But at best, they are carefully constructed films with each member of the cast and crew giving their endless work and talent to create great characters and stories.
No matter the quality of the comic-book movie, they are all but certain to be shut out of the top Oscar races. Indeed, not even the critically acclaimed blockbuster “The Dark Knight” managed to earn a Best Picture bid. Christopher Nolan’s film did feature an Oscar-winning turn by Heath Ledger as DC Comic’s legendary villain, the Joker. Prior to that the only comic book movie to earn recognition from the acting branch was Warren Beatty’s 1990 take on “Dick Tracy”: Al Pacino was nominated for playing Big Boy Caprice but lost the Best Supporting Actor race to Joe Pesci (“Goodfellas”).
Usually comic-book movies are rewarded at the Oscars only in below-the-line categories (which is what 55% of readers believe “Civil War” will achieve in our recent poll). So, however great and well-deserved this talk of “Civil War” picking up a Best Picture nomination, only about 10% of readers think that will happen.
Of the eight nominations the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or the MCU for those in favor of acronyms) has earned to date, six of them have been for Visual Effects, with the other two nominations for Make-Up & Hair (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) and Sound Editing (“Iron Man”). And no DC film since “The Dark Knight” has even been nominated.
But producer supremo Kevin Feige and the MCU have shown patience in abundance, building up great stories and characters across eight years and 13 films. Perhaps they can build to a Best Picture nomination by ticking off a few above-the-line boxes along the way. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 10 performances in superhero movies likeliest to reap Oscar bids — scroll through the gallery above.