Superhero movies, it seems, have a fixed relationship with the Academy. Despite the best efforts from esteemed filmmakers like Joss Whedon, Joe and Anthony Russo as well as Christopher Nolan, the only Oscar category that the genre is recognized in is the technical ones — be it sound editing, visual effects or best costume design — with the odd nod here and there for supporting actors.
But for Anthony and Joe Russo — the siblings who directed this year’s acclaimed Captain America: The Winter Soldier — that’s a trend that deserves to change as superhero movies continue to expand and diversify.
In an interview with Deadline, here’s what the brothers had to say on the matter.
“It’s strange that the comic book film genre is so often thought of only in terms of its economic merits. Yes, it’s shockingly popular and continues to grow, and yes, the box office success of these films can often embarrassingly outweigh their merits, but as Christopher Nolan perhaps first proved, real and valuable filmmaking can be achieved with the genre. Snubbing comic book movies because of their ubiquity is akin to dismissing the Western as matinee fodder.”
The topic was first thrust into the limelight back in 2008, when Christopher Nolan and his seminal, Heat-inspired sequel The Dark Knight was snubbed in both the Best Picture and Best Directing categories. It was a decision that drew a lot of criticism from the community and moviegoers as a whole, and one which prompted the Academy to expand the nominations for Best Picture from five to ten the following year.
Incidentally, one of the films attracting the most attention going into this year’s race is Michael Keaton’s Birdman, which stars an out-of-work character trying to rid himself of his former superhero image — pretty ironic, huh?
Alas, it’s hard to imagine the Academy abruptly changing its stance for the 2014 Oscars and including the likes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy, but considering the sheer amount of superhero films on the horizon from DC, Marvel and even Sony in the next five to ten years, it would be ludicrous for the Academy to out and out snub every single release based on some pre-conceived and archaic notion of what a Best Picture candidate should be.