And the award goes to
Deadpool: “Do you have any need for a loudmouthed sidekick in your movies?”
Black Panther: “I thought you were trying to join the X-Men?”
DP: “Nah, I go where the heat is and that is with you, Mr. 7 Oscar nominations.”
BP: “I don’t think we’d be a good pair.”
DP: “I see how it is. A few Oscar noms and you think you’re too good for Deadpool. Well it’s your loss. Your movie could have had 7 time Teen Choice Award nominee and 1993 Young Artist Award nominee for Best Young Actor Co-starring in a Cable Series, Ryan Reynolds.”
BP: “It’s 2019 and if you ask me, you’re still the co-star of a Cable series.”
DP: [Shocked emojis] – “Texts From Superheroes”
Superheroes and the Academy Awards have a strange relationship. A superhero movie is nominated seemingly every year, but only wins awards like Best Sound Editing or Best Visual Effects. Marvel looks to change things in 2019 with Black Panther, which has been nominated for seven awards, including Best Picture.
As Black Panther prepares to stalk the red carpet, let’s rank the top 7 Superhero Oscar Winners.
#7 Suicide Squad
Starring: Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto
Won: Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Captain Boomerang: “Why is it always a knife fight every single time you open your mouth? You know, outside, you’re amazing. But inside, you’re ugly.”
Harley Quinn: “We all are. We all are! [looks at Killer Croc] Except for him. He’s ugly on the outside, too.”
Killer Croc: “Not me, shorty. I’m beautiful.”
Harley Quinn: “Yeah, you are.” – Suicide Squad
Now here’s a dark horse winner! Suicide Squad was released in 2016 to cash in on Guardians of the Galaxy’s success. It was panned due to badly written characters, boring fight scenes against CGI monsters, and over hyping Jared Leto’s version of The Joker in trailers before turning him into an afterthought. Suicide Squad seemed Oscar-proof.
The movie’s saving grace is that the characters look like they stepped from the pages of DC Comics. Everything from El Diablo’s gang tattoos to Enchantress’ ethereal appearance are spot on. Even more controversial looks like Joker’s hodge-podge of tattoos and bling or Harley Quinn’s streetwalker getup are done well.
#6 Superman: The Movie
Starring: Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman
Won: Special Achievement Award (Visual Effects)
Tagline: “You will believe a man can fly!” – Superman
Let’s keep this DC train a-rolling! There were plenty of superhero movies before 1978’s Superman, but none were as successful. Superman had it all, A-list actors, Richard Donner directing, a John Williams score, and fantastic special effects.
The most iconic moment is Superman first saving Lois Lane while John Williams’ score blares. Superman chases down Lex Luthor’s missiles, takes Lois on a romantic night flight, and the infamous moment when he circles the Earth fast enough to turn back time.
Superman may lack the high octane fights of future superhero movies, but it revels in how wondrous Superman’s powers are. And looks damn good doing it.
#5 Batman (1989)
Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger
Won: Best Art Direction – Set Decoration
The Joker: [talking to a gargoyle] “What are you laughin’ at?” – Batman
DC is three for three. Superman repopularized superhero movies, but its Metropolis setting was too bright and cartoony. Its campy sequels caused people to see superhero movies as kid stuff again. Something more was needed. A darker, more serious locale for rodent themed vigilantes and psychotic clowns dueling to the death was needed. Batman’s Gotham City was the answer.
Anton Furst and Peter Young drew from contemporary Batman comics, bringing in a decidedly Gothic theme to accentuate the brooding hero and bombastic soundtrack. The gloomy, almost desolate atmosphere helped to distance Batman from its campy Adam West roots.
#4 Spider-Man 2
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Alfred Molina
Won: Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Doctor Octopus: [using mechanical arms to handle a ball of energy] “The power of the sun…in the palm of my hand.” – Spider-Man 2
Marvel finally enters the list. 2002’s Spider-Man was a good start to a series, but 2004’s Spider-Man 2 upped the ante. The New York vistas are excellently portrayed as our hero swings through town, trying to stop Doctor Octopus. Speaking of Doc Ock, credit must be given to the animators who made his mechanical arms work. The arms look realistic and move in lifelike ways.
The showstopper is the train fight between Spider-Man and Doc Ock. It’s a sprawling battle that takes advantage of both characters’ ability to stick to walls. Spidey and Ock brawl above, below, along the side, and even inside a crowded train. The fight ends with the iconic shot of Maguire’s Spider-Man practically crucified as he desperately tries to stop a train crash, a shot so recognizable it was homaged in Spider-Man: Homecoming 13 years later.
Learn More: We’ve got a review right here, folks. Step right up.
#3 Big Hero 6
Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung
Won: Best Animated Feature
Hiro Hamada: [closing narration] “We didn’t set out to be superheroes. But, sometimes, life doesn’t go the way you planned. The good thing is, my brother wanted to help a lot of people. And that’s what we’re gonna do, Who are we?” – Big Hero 6
Magic is sure to follow when Marvel and Disney team up. Big Hero 6 was an obscure superhero team and a spinoff of Alpha Flight. They appeared in a few mini-series, but mostly showed up to fill space in crowd shots. Not the first team I would have made a movie about, but it worked well enough to win an Oscar. So who are Big Hero 6 anyways?
The team is led by Hiro, a genius trying to cope with his brother Tadashi’s death. Assisting him is Baymax, a super strong robot created by Tadashi prior to his death. Next is GoGo Tomago, a snarky engineer a la Tony Stark. The team also consists of plasma engineer Wasabi, chemist Honey Lemon, and comic relief Fred.
The team is united when Hiro and Baymax discover a warehouse filled with microscopic robots, the same robots Tadashi had worked on before his death. A villain called Yokai activates the robots and tries to kill Hiro and Baymax, who escape. Realizing that someone needs to stop Yokai, Hiro develops high tech armor and forms Big Hero 6.
#2 The Incredibles
Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Spencer Fox
Won: Best Animated Feature Film of the Year, Best Achievement in Sound Editing.
Syndrome: [after capturing the Incredibles] “What have we here? Matching uniforms? [sees Helen] Oh, no. Elastigirl? You married Elastigirl?! [laughs, then looks at Violet and Dash] And got busy! It’s a whole family of Supers! Looks like I’ve hit the jackpot! [laughs] This is just too good!” – The Incredibles
Who needs Marvel or DC when Disney’s around? Disney created their own superhero team, The Incredibles, in 2005. They drew the team dynamics and powers from the Fantastic Four and the darker, somewhat realistic tone from DC’s Watchmen.
The Incredibles follows Mr. Incredible, a retired superhero who was the Superman of his day. He was forced into retirement when superheroics were outlawed and married his lover, Elastigirl. Years later, Mr. Incredible has a normal job and family, but is suffering a mid-life crisis and longing for his heroic days.
A mysterious woman named Mirage appears, offering a way to return to heroism. Mr. Incredible gets his groove back, causing Elastigirl to fear he is having an affair. Mr. Incredible is deployed to an island, unaware that he is being lured into a trap by the villain Syndrome.
Learn More: We’ve got a review for The Incredibles.
#1 The Dark Knight
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Won: Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound Editing
The Joker: Ugh, you…you just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you? Huh? You won’t kill me, out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness… and I won’t kill you, because you’re just too much fun! I think you and I are destined to do this forever. – The Dark Knight
What do you even say about The Dark Knight? It’s one of the best superhero movies ever made. It’s got an A-list cast, social commentary, a three hour runtime, seven or eight false endings, and a brilliant final performance from Heath Ledger as The Joker.
Ledger’s Joker is hard to beat. From his first appearance with the iconic pencil trick to his final battle against Batman, he steals the show. Every other line he spoke became an overused meme in 2008 because people wouldn’t stop quoting him. And despite the false endings and gargantuan run time, Ledger’s Joker never wears out his welcome.
It’s sad that Heath Ledger passed away, but this role was his equivalent to Freddie Mercury’s “The Show Must Go On”.
Has your favorite superhero movie won an Oscar? Is there a film you think got robbed? What do you think of Black Panther’s chances at the 91st Academy Awards? Let us know in a comment.
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.