Will a superhero movie ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture?

Greetings, folks. Sorry if I'm a bit snappy today in my answers; but I'm in a bad mood. I set up the first mailbox in town so people could drop off their letters (and I didn't have to personally pick them up), but someone, I don't know who, keeps pooping in it. I know civilization's been destroyed for 30 years, but COME ON. Have some goddamn decency.


Up the Academy

Brian L.:

Dear Postman,

Can a comic book movie, or more specifically a superhero movie, ever win an Oscar?

I know there were some rumours about Dark Knight Rises getting a nomination that didn't pan out, and that Heath Ledger won one for his Joker, but do you think there will a comic book/superhero movie that get an Oscar?

A comic book movie might, but a superhero movie never will. Period.

That's mostly because the Academy is a sham. They stopped actually awarding the Best Picture Oscar to the year's best movie decades ago. Now it's purely a popularity contest, based way too much on box office, coupled with the Academy's egotistical sense of what an "important" movie should be. Hey, do you want to win an Oscar? Make a movie about the power of movies, like The Artist and Argo.

Superhero movies will always be considered low-brow entertainment for us plebs, and thus they will never get recognized (the fact that a fantasy movie like Return of the King won is a miracle made possibly only by Peter Jackson's incredible achievements, the zillion dollars he made, and mostly because it was a particularly anemic year). I say a comic book movie can, because a comic book can be about anything, and thus if you write a comic about, say, how a guy overcomes a physical handicap to direct a movie which inspires America to beat the Nazis, then it can be adapted into a real movie and win pretty easily. But superheroes? No way.

It should probably be noted that when the second Gladiator won Best Picture in 2001, I turned off the Oscars and have never turned them back on again. That's when I knew the system was incredibly, unrepairably fucked.


Will a superhero movie ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture?

Science Friction

Zdenko V.:

So, a friend of mine and me had an argument the other day about Gravity and does it count as a SF movie or not. His argument is that it's not a SF movie because everything in it is grounded in reality and the technology presented in it is available to us right now. As for me, mine argument that Gravity was a SF movie because it takes place in space and there's such a thing as a Space SF movie (I think).

It quickly devolved to "So, if it happens in space it's a SF" debate and he found a rare exception to it - Apollo 13. I told him that it's a movie about a historical event so it can't be a SF movie but he is using it as his master stroke to end my "If it's in space it's an SF movie" theory.

So, basically... Who is right? Are there not-based-on-historical-events space movies that are not SF?

Gravity is not a true story, so it's fiction. It's set in space, exploring physics and problems that aren't commonly known to people other than the astronauts and the scientists who study them, so I'd say it's perfectly acceptable to call Gravity science fiction.

Science fiction doesn't need to take place in the future, although it normally does. A movie like The Core, in which a group of "scientists" travel underground to "restart" the molten core of the earth and takes place in the present, is also science fiction, even though the "science" it presents makes me want to bleed from my ears.

Your friend is correct in that Apollo 13 isn't science fiction, because it's based on a historical event. Call it "science fact" if you will, but the issue here is that it's not fiction, nothing else. A fictional movie set in space in the past, like the horror flick Apollo 18? Science fiction. Basically, until space travel become prevalent enough that it becomes part of everyday life for people, all movies set in space not based on factual events can be safely and correctly called science fiction. To argue otherwise is extremely pedantic, and since I get paid to argue stupid shit on the internet, if I find it pedantic you know it's ridiculous.


Will a superhero movie ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture?

Con Job

DC John :

Dear Postman,

Over the past weekend I had my first convention experience. I went to Katsucon in DC with my wife and two friends.

I have always liked tech, scifi, and foreign cultures so I was excited to go. We didn't dress up —- maybe this was a mistake because 85%+ of attendees were cosplaying. While walking from one exhibit to another, someone there (who we didn't know and was dressed normally) approached the four of us in the atrium. He said, "did you guys mean to come here?" My friend responded, "Why? Do we look out of place?" Then he said, "Hah! You have no idea."

We didn't know what to make of this. Were we too normal looking? I was wearing a black jacket and jeans. Soon after the interaction we decided we felt self-conscious and that we should leave to get dinner and sangria. Maybe we did something wrong, but I feel dissed. I probably won't go back.

That sucks. I've been to a million nerd-based conventions, most of them anime-centric. Usually I've found that anime fans are the most accepting of people, maybe because it's a such specific, but still kind of wide fandom. Maybe that's changed over the past few years; it's been a while since I've been to one.

But were you too normal looking? No. Fuck no. You don't have any obligation to dress up for a con. Plenty of people do, but there's no rule. I certainly never did, and no one ever gave me shit for it. You go to cons to have fun, hang around like-minded people, and probably buy some shit you don't need and could have ordered cheaper on line, whether you're cosplaying or dressed in a tuxedo. It sounds like that guy was just a bit of an asshole, and you shouldn't let one jerk ruin you experience, especially if you were enjoying yourself otherwise.

One more thing: if you're into nerd stuff other than anime, you might think about heading to a comic con or a more general nerd con. Anime fans are really into cosplay, which is why you end up with that 85% of attendees dressed up. At other cons the ratio is more like 10-20%. But still, there's no unspoken rule you have to cosplay. Fuck that guy for making you feel bad.


Will a superhero movie ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture?

War Bonds

Gregory M.:

Would it be wrong to ask for a remake of the War of the Worlds tv show? This is probably the only reboot that would hold my interest. The original show was pretty cheesy but, given my age at the time, it was pretty awesome. I still have chills from when the aliens finally reactivated their war machines and we saw the stalk-gun rising and firing with that iconic noise.

What could we do to make this happen? Nostalgia demands it! Nostalgia must be satisfied!

Would it be wrong? No. There's no crime in wanting a reboot of anything, especially not the War of the Worlds TV series. It's not like the original is some perfect masterpiece that can never be replicated.

What could you do to make this happen? Go to Hollywood, get hired on a movie, rise through the ranks until you become a producer, be really successful, and then pitch a reboot to a TV network. No amount of letter-writing or online petitions will ever amount to anything.

Or you could just wait. War of the Worlds is one of those things that's going to be remade over and over again for the rest of time. Eventually some network will use it as the basis for a new series. Just hope it's a good one.


Will a superhero movie ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture?

DC Gridlock

Misty H.:

Rob,

Can you please shed some light on what happened with the Batwoman title? It has been on of my favorites since the New 52 reboot. Looks like a "do it this way or else" from management or a 30 second notice from Williams.

I've discussed this before, but I'm happy to repeat it because it's still so ridiculous.

After J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman wanted Batwoman, a.k.a Kate Kane, to marry her long-time partner Maggie Sawyer. DC said no, even though they approved of Maggie and Cathy getting engaged. Williams and Blackman were so upset by DC's decision that they voluntarily left the book.

DC claims there Batwoman's homosexuality had nothing to do with their decision, and that the sole reason they refused the marriage is because they don't want any of their heroes married, in order to keep them relatable to their young readers. I believe them, although it was clearly a snap decision that forced them to retcon Aquaman's marriage to Mera (and ignored the fact that Animal Man was married, and his family was a fundamental part of his character) well after the New 52 started. Also, claiming that marriage somehow negates a character — especially a lesser tier one like Batwoman — is completely bullshit for reasons I detail here, but I believe that DC believes it.

But at the very bottom line, I think DC put themselves in a position where they had to say, out loud, "We do not want this gay character to get married." This is insane on so many levels. One, it's 2014 (well, 2013 when it happened). Two, they'd recently hired Orson Scott Card and could totally have used something like this to offset the outcry over hiring a vocal homophobe. Three, the fact that they thought they could make this decision and it not leak out and bite them tremendously on the ass is absolutely crazy.

It's amazing what a bad decision this was on pretty much every single level. There was literally no good that could have possible come out of DC denying Batwoman's marriage, and they still thought it was the right thing to do. Madness.


Will a superhero movie ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture?

Spider Bites

C.J. MacD:

Rob,

I'm probably in the minority of what I'm about to say, but I am not looking forward to "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." I know a lot of people like this whole new continuity for Spider-Man, but I did not like the first movie nor do I think it deserves the praise it gets. And quite frankly, the trailers to the new film look terrible in my eyes. I think it has bad effects, bad dialogue, bad jokes, and a story that seems to have no real narrative other than to lead up to another movie. I guess part of my hatred comes from the fact that I'm a fan of the Raimi films (Yes, even Spider-Man 3. Bite me.), but my mind tells me that these are movies made only for financial purposes and that these are genuinely bad films.

But that's not why I'm contacting you for. I get the feeling that I'm actually excited to see this movie suck. I'm counting the days for when the film comes out and I can (hopefully) rage about it as much as I can. And, quite frankly, this has gotten me more hyped up than any movie that I actually want to like. So is it wrong of me to feel more negatively towards something as opposed to something else positively? Do you think it's bad for my health? I actually like being happy.

If pre-hating things and looking forward to them sucking is bad for your health, then I'm in serious trouble. Although I'm also in terrible health, so… maybe this is not a coincidence. Hmm.

I will say that although I found the first Amazing Spider-Man movie bland and kind of useless (in that it didn't do anything the first Sam Raimi film hadn't already) I personally don't pre-hate ASM2. I like that Garfield's Peter Parker seems to be more quippy and less asshole-y, I admit Foxx's Electro is extremely cheesy but that's not the worst problem in the world for a superhero movie to have, and although all the rumored villains could very, very easily end up as a godawful mess, I have to admit I'm kind of excited at the possibility of seeing the Sinister Six on-screen, however it turns out.


Do you have questions about anything scifi, fantasy, superhero, or nerd-related? Email the postman@io9.com! No question too difficult, no question too dumb! Obviously