Entertainment

And the Oscar Will Go to … the Man in Tights?

Debate is on about whether comic book flicks deserve Academy Award recognition

Last year’s “Deadpool” surprised everyone when it became one of the biggest box office successes of the year — with over $360 million earned domestically against a modest $58 million production budget.

The R-rated comic book movie opened new doors for an already popular genre.

“Deadpool” has the chance to crack that glass ceiling when the Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 24.

The film surprised again when it scored two Golden Globe nominations, one for Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy and another for Best Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy (Ryan Reynolds). It was also just nominated for a Producers Guild of America Award for Best Picture.

Though the film failed to pick up statues at the Globes, the mainstream awards recognition has some people speculating about the future of the genre’s relationship with artistic respect. Could characters like Spider-Man and Batman one day be competing next to the likes of teary-eyed, social-agenda-pushing Oscar bait for those much-coveted golden statues?

“If by chance this happens, prepare for the world’s most ridiculous reaction video,” tweeted “Deadpool” actor and producer Ryan Reynolds in response to a Washington Post article pontificating about the film’s chances of getting an actual Oscar nomination.

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Reynolds revealed recently that it’s not “Deadpool” he believes will break the awards glass ceiling of respect for the superhero genre, but “Logan” — set for release in March. It’s reportedly the last time Hugh Jackman will portray his infamous version of the X-Man with claws.

“‘Logan’ looks like a movie that might break that glass ceiling,” Reynolds told Variety about the superhero genre’s road to awards success. “I know firsthand that it’s amazing. I’ve seen some of it. It’s mind-blowing. It relies a lot on character.”

The somber trailer for “Logan,” set to the Johnny Cash cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” already has many making comparisons to a previously dark and serious superhero movie that won major critical praise — “The Dark Knight.” Nolan’s 2008 chapter in the Batman saga was, of course, overlooked for any major Oscar nominations despite the belief of many critics that it would bring a newfound acclaim to the genre — it sits at 94 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes.

Related: Will the Real Batman Please Stand Up?

“When I hosted the Oscars, ‘Batman’ didn’t get nominated and everyone was talking about it. I think the genre is evolving. It’s a stretch to say these are injustices in life — we are happy and making movies,” “Logan” star Hugh Jackman told Variety about superhero movies and potential awards recognition in general. He added that he’s been campaigning for Ryan Reynolds to be nominated for his lead role in “Deadpool.”

What’s keeping superhero movies down? Are they too silly and stuck in fantasy for awards voters to take seriously? Or are they simply not deserving? Sure, films like “Captain America: Civil War” and “Suicide Squad” make tons of money, but do they qualify as anything more than pure entertainment? After all, acclaimed directors like Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg have scoffed at the genre and its effect on the overall quality of film output.

Awards season movies are typically works that most of America won’t end up seeing.

“‘The Dark Knight’ is the closest we’ll ever get to an Oscar-winning superhero movie,” John Sullivan, screenwriter of “Recoil” and the upcoming “Security,” starring Antonio Banderas and Ben Kingsley, told LifeZette. “Really dark superhero movies tend to try too hard to be classy and revisionist. Really cartoony superhero movies tend to be … bad. ‘Fantastic Four’ tried to do both, and, yeah, we know what happened.”

Sullivan added the “perception” of the Academy voters will likely keep superhero films from getting too much serious attention.

It may sound silly for films like “Deadpool” and “Logan” to have real chances at Oscars and accolades typically reserved for smaller, more serious fare, but the attention may be just what’s needed to help bridge the gap between paying theatergoers and Hollywood awards voters. Compare the amount of paying Americans who saw Best Picture winners like “12 Years a Slave” and “Spotlight” to popular films like “Deadpool” and “The Avengers.”

Awards season movies are typically works that most of America has never heard of and won’t end up seeing. The films push the idea that Hollywood is out of step with the tastes of the rest of the country.

If quality is at all measured by the value brought to the paying masses, then superhero movies would be in the running tomorrow for major awards. “Deadpool” has the chance to crack that glass ceiling when the Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 24. Superhero movies may not yet have the full respect of Hollywood, but they have the attention (and wallets) of everyday theatergoers.

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