No Way Home’ – GoldDerby

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No Way Home’ – GoldDerby

Comic book movies are often hard done by at the Academy Awards. The films often feature design and technical work, as well as visual effects, that are the best of the year (while some performances are also deserving of awards attention — *cough* Robert Downey Jr. *cough*) but, still, these pictures are far too often overlooked.

With that in mind, let’s take a trip back through Oscars history to see just how well or poorly comic book movies have done at the Academy Awards. These are comic book movies, however, not superhero movies. These are only films that have been adapted from comic books or graphic novels (so “The Incredibles” isn’t on this list, for example). As such, there are plenty of other movies on this list that aren’t superhero movies at all. Here’s the breakdown listed first by, then by Oscar nominations. If movies have the same number of wins or nominations, they’ll be ordered by year that the movie was in competition at the Oscars, not the year of release.

Won Three Oscars

“Black Panther” (2019)
Dir: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“T’Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past.”

Best Original Score — Ludwig Göransson
Best Costume Design — Ruth E. Carter
Best Production Design — Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart

Nominated for: Seven Oscars
The only MCU movie to ever be nominated for Best Picture. In fact, it was the first comic book movie in history to earn a Best Picture nomination. It was also nominated for Best Original Song for “All the Stars” as well as Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

“Dick Tracy” (1991)
Dir: Warren Beatty
Starring: Warren Beatty, Madonna, Al Pacino, Charlie Korsmo
Adapted from: “Dick Tracy” Comic Strip by Chester Gould

“The comic strip detective finds his life vastly complicated when Breathless Mahoney makes advances towards him while he is trying to battle Big Boy Caprice’s united mob.”

Best Original Song — Stephen Sondheim, “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)”
Best Makeup — John Caglione Jr. and Doug Drexler
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration — Richard Sylbert and Rick Simpson

Nominated for: Six Oscars
This movie was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Pacino as well as Cinematography, Costume Design, and Sound.

Won Two Oscars

“Joker” (2020)
Dir: Todd Phillips
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Brian Tyree Henry
Adapted from: DC Comics

“The rise of Arthur Fleck, from aspiring stand-up comedian and pariah to Gotham’s clown prince and leader of the revolution.”

Best Actor — Phoenix
Best Original Score — Hilder Guðnadóttir

Nominated for: 11 Oscars
Phoenix finally won his long overdue Oscar with this searing performance, while the movie was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director for Phillips, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing. The second comic book movie to earn a Best Picture bid, while no comic book movie has ever earned more Oscar nominations than this one.

“The Dark Knight” (2009)
Dir: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman
Adapted from: DC Comics

“When the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, Batman must accept one of the greatest psychological and physical tests of his ability to fight injustice.”

Best Supporting Actor — Ledger
Best Sound Editing — Richard King

Nominated for: Eight Oscars
Ledger made history as the first person to win an acting Oscar for a comic book movie while he also won it posthumously after he died tragically young. The movie was also nominated for Cinematography, Film Editing, Art Direction, Makeup, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects. It came close to a Best Picture bid.

Won One Oscar

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (2023)
Dir: Coogler
Starring: Letitia Wright, Basset, Nyong’o, Tenoch Huerta
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“The people of Wakanda fight to protect their home from intervening world powers as they mourn the death of King T’Challa.”

Won: Best Costume Design — Carter

Nominated for: Five Oscars
This sequel almost came close to two wins as Bassett almost turned her Best Supporting Actress into a victory. Alas, Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) was the victor in the end. “Wakanda Forever” was also nominated for Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Song, and Visual Effects.

“Men in Black” (1998)
Dir: Barry Sonnenfield
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rip Torn
Adapted from: “The Men in Black” comic by Lowell Cunningham (Malibu Comics)

“A police officer joins a secret organization that polices and monitors extraterrestrial interactions on Earth.”

Won: Best Makeup — Rick Baker and David LeRoy Anderson

Nominated for: Three Oscars
This movie also picked up bids for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Original Score for Danny Elfman‘s iconic music.

“Spider-Man 2” (2005)
Dir: Sam Raimi
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“Peter Parker is beset with troubles in his failing personal life as he battles a brilliant scientist named Doctor Otto Octavius.”

Won: Best Visual Effects — John Dykstra, Scott Stokdyk, Anthony LaMolinara, and John Frazier

Nominated for: Three Oscars
Raimi’s second Spidey flick also picked up nominations for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

Won One Oscar with One Nomination

“Batman” (1990)
Dir: Tim Burton
Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Billy Dee Williams
Adapted from: DC Comics

“The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being Jack Napier, a criminal who becomes the clownishly homicidal Joker.”

Won: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration — Anton First and Peter Young
This was the sole nomination Burton’s groundbreaking Batman adaptation earned, but an important film in comic book movie history.

“Big Hero 6” (2015)
Dir: Don Hall and Chris Williams
Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, Daniel Henney
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“A special bond develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who together team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.”

Won: Best Animated Film — Don Hall, Chris Williams, and Roy Conli
A lesser-known slice of Marvel Comics history, but Oscar voters liked it enough to give it a win over the likes of “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and “Song of the Sea.”

“Suicide Squad” (2017)
Dir: David Ayer
Starring: Margot Robbie, Smith, Jared Leto, Viola Davis
Adapted from: DC Comics

“A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated super-villains to form a defensive task force. Their first mission: save the world from the apocalypse.”

Won: Best Makeup and Hairstyling — Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, and Christopher Allen Nelson
Despite the negative reviews and poor fan reception, Oscar voters still appreciate the makeup, hair, and prosthetic work on display here in designing the iconic characters.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2019)
Dir: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman
Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“Teen Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his universe and must join with five spider-powered individuals from other dimensions to stop a threat for all realities.”

Won: Best Animated Film — Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Phil Lord, and Christopher Miller
This beloved movie easily took home Best Animated Film while the sequel, “Across the Spider-Verse,” will be looking to emulate that success this upcoming Oscars season and potentially go one step further by landing a Best Picture nomination.

Nominated for Three Oscars

“Superman” (1979)
Dir: Richard Donner
Starring: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando
Adapted from: DC Comics

“An alien orphan is sent from his dying planet to Earth, where he grows up to become his adoptive home’s first and greatest superhero.”

This movie was nominated for Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score for John Williams.

“Batman Forever” (1996)
Dir: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman
Adapted from: DC Comics

“Batman must battle former district attorney Harvey Dent, who is now Two-Face and Edward Nygma, The Riddler with help from an amorous psychologist and a young circus acrobat who becomes his sidekick, Robin.”

This film earned bids for Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing.

“The Batman” (2023)
Dir: Matt Reeves
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Andy Serkis, Paul Dano, Jeffrey Wright
Adapted from: DC Comics

“When a sadistic serial killer begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman is forced to investigate the city’s hidden corruption and question his family’s involvement.”

From the old to the new, this reboot of Batman went down well with critics and audiences and landed bids for Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound, and Visual Effects.

Nominated for Two Oscars

“Batman Returns” (1993)
Dir: Burton
Starring: Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken
Adapted from: DC Comics

“While Batman deals with a deformed man calling himself the Penguin wreaking havoc across Gotham with the help of a cruel businessman, a female employee of the latter becomes the Catwoman with her own vendetta.”

This Burton follow-up didn’t win any like the first entry did but it did land bids for Best Makeup and Best Visual Effects.

“Spider-Man” (2003)
Dir: Raimi
Starring: Maguire, Dunst, Franco, Willem Dafoe
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“After being bitten by a genetically-modified spider, a shy teenager gains spider-like abilities that he uses to fight injustice as a masked superhero and face a vengeful enemy.”

Raimi’s groundbreaking first “Spider-Man” movie featured an iconic Dafoe as the Green Goblin. The film was nominated for Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.

“A History of Violence” (2006)
Dir: David Cronenberg
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt
Adapted from: “A History of Violence” graphic novel by John Wagner (Paradox Press)

“A mild-mannered man becomes a local hero through an act of violence, which sets off repercussions that will shake his family to its very core.”

This violent drama scored nominations for Best Supporting Actor for Hurt and Best Adapted Screenplay.

“Iron Man” (2009)
Dir: Jon Favreau
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, Terrence Howard
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“After being held captive in an Afghan cave, billionaire engineer Tony Stark creates a unique weaponized suit of armor to fight evil.”

The movie that kickstarted the MCU and revived Downey Jr.’s career earned two nominations — for Sound Editing and Visual Effects — although it probably (definitely) deserved more.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” (2015)
Dir: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“A group of intergalactic criminals must pull together to stop a fanatical warrior with plans to purge the universe.”

Gunn’s movie introduced a brand new flavor to the MCU and, as such, earned two bids — one for Makeup and Hairstyling and one for Visual Effects.

Nominated for One Oscar

“The Mask” (1995)
Dir: Chuck Russell
Starring: Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Peter Riegert, Peter Greene
Adapted from: Dark Horse Comics

“Bank clerk Stanley Ipkiss is transformed into a manic superhero when he wears a mysterious mask.”

Carrey’s zany flick earned just one nomination but for its impressive Visual Effects.

“Batman Begins” (2006)
Dir: Nolan
Starring: Bale, Caine, Oldman, Liam Neeson
Adapted from: DC Comics

“After witnessing his parents’ death, Bruce learns the art of fighting to confront injustice. When he returns to Gotham as Batman, he must stop a secret society that intends to destroy the city.”

Nolan’s first entry in his acclaimed Batman trilogy earned just one nomination — for Wally Pfister‘s cinematography.

“Superman Returns” (2007)
Dir: Bryan Singer
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, James Marsden
Adapted from: DC Comics

“Superman returns to Earth after spending five years in space examining his homeworld Krypton. But he finds things have changed while he was gone, and he must once again prove himself important to the world.”

This reboot of Superman only earned one bid — for Best Visual Effects.

“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (2009)
Dir: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Seth MacFarlane
Adapted from: Dark Horse Comics

“A prince of the mythical world starts a rebellion against humanity in order to rule the Earth. Hellboy and his team must fight to stop him from locating the all-powerful Golden Army.”

Del Toro’s Hellboy followed up scored just the one bid — for its impressive makeup work.

“Iron Man 2” (2011)
Dir: Favreau
Starring: Downey Jr, Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“With the world now aware of his identity as Iron Man, Tony Stark must contend with both his declining health and a vengeful mad man with ties to his father’s legacy.”

One of the more maligned entries into the MCU. However, it still earned a Best Visual Effects nomination.

“The Adventures of Tintin” (2012)
Dir: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg
Adapted from: The French-Belgian comic “The Adventures of Tintin” by Herge

“Intrepid reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor.”

This Peter Jackon and Spielberg collaboration was actually a treat, but it was only recognized by the Academy for John Williams’ Original Score.

“The Avengers” (2013)
Dir: Joss Whedon
Starring: Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“Earth’s mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are going to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.”

A groundbreaking entry into the MCU as the various superheroes teamed up for the first time. It resulted in a nomination for Best Visual Effects.

“Iron Man 3” (2014)
Dir: Shane Black
Starring: Downey Jr, Paltrow, Cheadle, Guy Pierce
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“When Tony Stark’s world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.”

The third and final installment in the “Iron Man” trilogy landed a bid for Visual Effects.

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2015)
Dir: Joe Russo and Anthony Russo
Starring: Evans, Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“As Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with a fellow Avenger and S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Black Widow, to battle a new threat from history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier.”

One of the more treasured Marvel movies. Still, it earned the same number of nominations that most of its counterparts did — one. And that, again, was for Best Visual Effects.

“X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2015)
Dir: Singer
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.”

Perhaps the best “X-Men” movie of all time. This time-travel twister was nominated for Best Visual Effects.

“Doctor Strange (2017)
Dir: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“While on a journey of physical and spiritual healing, a brilliant neurosurgeon is drawn into the world of the mystic arts.”

This trippy, psychedelic superhero film has some of the best visual effects across all comic book movies. As such, it was nominated for them.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2018)
Dir: Gunn
Starring: Pratt, Saldana, Bautista, Cooper
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“The Guardians struggle to keep together as a team while dealing with their personal family issues, notably Star-Lord’s encounter with his father, the ambitious celestial being Ego.”

This second “Guardians” picture was nominated for, yep, you guessed it, Best Visual Effects.

“Avengers: Infinity War” (2019)
Dir: Joe and Anthony Russo
Starring: Downey Jr, Hemsworth, Evans, Josh Brolin
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.”

The best MCU movie of all time? This one surely deserved a Best Picture nomination. Alas, Kevin Feige’s awards focus was pulled exclusively and understandably into “Black Panther” so “Infinity War” had to settle for a Visual Effects nomination only.

“Avengers: Endgame” (2020)
Dir: Joe and Anthony Russo
Starring: Downey Jr, Hemsworth, Evans, Brolin
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to reverse Thanos’ actions and restore balance to the universe.”

Likewise, this perfect cumulative movie only landed one bid — for Best Visual Effects.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings” (2022)
Dir: Destin Daniel Cretton
Starring: Simu Liu, Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“Shang-Chi, the master of weaponry-based Kung Fu, is forced to confront his past after being drawn into the Ten Rings organization.”

Perhaps the most underrated MCU movie, this one should have been nominated for more Oscars. It’s costuming, sets, cinematography, and music were all top-drawer. Alas, it was only nominated for Best Visual Effects.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” (2022)
Dir: Jon Watts
Starring: Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, Maguire, Zendaya
Adapted from: Marvel Comics

“With Spider-Man’s identity now revealed, Peter asks Doctor Strange for help. When a spell goes wrong, dangerous foes from other worlds start to appear, forcing Peter to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man.”

This sensational Spidey movie brought together multiple generations of superhero lovers for a nostalgic, emotional movie. Still, once again, the Academy only saw fit to recognize it for Best Visual Effects.

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