With Black Panther up for a best picture Golden Globe, let's take a look back at the history of superhero films at awards shows

By Alex Heigl
Updated January 04, 2019 02:48 PM
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As we near the Golden Globes on Sunday, there’s a distinct possibility that Black Panther could change the way awards show season has historically treated comic book movies by walking away with a best motion picture – drama Globe.

Comic book movies, despite becoming one of the most dependable genres at the box office over the past decade, haven’t fared as well in the scrum of early-year awards shows. But it’s not all bad! While quite a lot of superhero movies have been nominated for the “technical” awards — makeup, sound, visual effects, art direction, etc — they tend not to fare as well when you get into the acting and directing categories. Let’s take a look at their history, below.

(Again, we’re ignoring the technical categories: Almost every Marvel tentpole from the past few years has been nominated in the visual effects category, and most of the superhero films of the ’90s picked up at least nominations for their technical work.)

Credit: Matt Kennedy/©Marvel Studios 2018

The 2016 film broke barriers when it scored nominations for best motion picture – musical or comedy and best performance by an actor in a motion picture – musical or comedy for its star Ryan Reynolds, though it failed to win in either category.

Superman picked up a special visual effects Oscar, but its score — by usual Oscar sure-thing John Williams — failed to connect with the Academy and snag the corresponding trophy.

The Academy granted Stephen Sondheim a Best Original Song award for his contribution to Dick Tracy. (We’re including it because it was based on a comic strip and includes numerous not-exactly-realistic elements, even if it might not exactly fit the “superhero” mold.)

Did you guys know Men in Black was based on a comic book? From Marvel, no less? While it won a Best Makeup award for the effects from non-CGI makeup wizard Rick Baker, its score, by Danny Elfman (who also created the distinctive theme for Tim Burton’s original Batman movies) was left in the cold.

It’s not strictly a “comic book movie,” but it’s definitely a superhero movie. And either way, Pixar’s feature film picked up a statuette for Best Animated Feature at its Academy Awards, so that has to count.

Aside from being a titanic performance that rivals Anthony Hopkins-as-Hannibal-Lecter in the “most impact made in shortest amount of screen time” category, Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (posthumously, sadly) and legitimized the modern era of comic book films. Ledger also won the equivalent Golden Globe for his performance.

Also originating from a Marvel comic, Big Hero 6 picked up an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the year in 2014.

The Golden Globe Awards air on Sunday, Jan. 6, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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