There’s a lot of buzz at the moment surrounding James Mangold’s “Logan”, a superhero blockbuster from last year that has won the rare privilege of earning an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
There’s very little chance that “Logan” will win in this category, but the nomination is itself being seen as something of a triumph for superhero movies in general. Finally, the argument goes, comic books are getting their due at the Academy Awards, earning the recognition that they deserve.
All it took to get here was twenty years of “X-Men” movies, and a long, dry, thoroughly depressing movie about how superhero fandom is actually kind of dumb. Yeesh.
While it’s nice that “Logan” has earned an Oscar nomination, fans of this movie and of this genre shouldn’t consider the battle won – far from it, in fact.
After all, there are plenty more awards that “Logan” genuinely deserves – Sir Patrick Stewart, for example, really should have earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination. His performance in “Logan” is perhaps the best of his entire career, as he completely transformed himself into a frail, mentally ill old man.
In any other movie, Sir Patrick’s performance would have been perfect Oscarbait. Because this film is loosely based on characters from a comic book, he gets nothing.
It’s also fairly inaccurate for “Logan” to even receive a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, considering that the movie isn’t actually an adaptation of a comic. While the film takes inspiration from “Old Man Logan”, there are no Venom Dinosaurs, no Hawkeye, no evil Spider-Woman, or any of the other key plot points from the Mark Millar comic that first put Logan in a Western setting.
“Logan” is an almost entirely original story, taking characters from comics but reworking them entirely jamming them into different environments. There’s more originality here than there is in, say, “The Shape of Water”, which earned a Best Picture nomination.
Meanwhile, other superhero movies remain taboo. “Wonder Woman” has somehow inexplicably been snubbed by the Academy as well. Certainly, nobody expected this film to win Best Picture, but in a year of lackluster blockbusters, it’s weird that this movie didn’t even get nominated for Best Costumes Design.
Just as a reminder, last year the Oscar for costumes went to “Suicide Squad”. We now live in a world where “Suicide Squad” won an Oscar, but “Wonder Woman” hasn’t even had a nomination.
Looking at other films that have been nominated for more awards – “Dunkirk”, “Baby Driver”, and “The Shape of Water” being standout examples – it’s clear that the Academy doesn’t hate popular big budget action or horror movies in general.
The problem comes when the action is in some way tied to comic books. Despite years of progress and some truly impressively deep, meaningful stories that have been told in superhero films, the Old Guard of Hollywood refuses to allow the lesser art of comic books to enjoy any kind of recognition.
Oh well. At least superhero movies actually make money!