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The Oscar nominations for 2020 are in, and DC Comics has just secured its first ever Best Picture nomination thanks to Joker. It's a big moment for the brand and the superhero genre in genera,l as Marvel scored a Best Picture nod for Black Panther last year. The pattern makes it feel as though it'll only be a matter of time before one of the Big Two wins the award, and I feel like DC might just do it before Marvel.
That may sound insane to some, especially when comparing the past decade Marvel and DC have respectively had. Still, I don't think it's crazy to say that DC has a solid shot at beating Marvel out for the Best Picture Oscar, and that it may even happen before the decade is up. Here's the thought process behind it, and how DC has positioned itself at the moment to have a better shot of achieving Oscar glory before Marvel.
DC Is Willing To Take Bigger Risks With Its Characters Than Marvel
Marvel has found success boosting the profile of some of its lesser celebrated characters, but throughout the course of the MCU, it hasn't done much to transform said characters. Sure, they've altered some aesthetic looks and tweaked powers to better fit the shared universe, but by and large these heroes have been about as close as they can to their comic book versions.
And it's more than fair to say Marvel has never done anything quite as radical as the things DC has done in adapting its characters for the big screen. We've seen two radically different versions of The Joker in the past few years alone, and while one didn't get a ton of screen time in a critically disappointing movie, the other just starred in a movie that surpassed The Godfather for Oscar nominations.
That success indicates DC will continue to do this in the future, and there's no reason for it not to. Both Joker and Suicide Squad made bank at the box office regardless of how critics feel about them, and that's an important factor to focus on. As long as the money keeps rolling in, DC has no reason to stop trying to reinvent its characters in ways that draw in audiences and take a chance on concepts that may one day again put it in contention for that Best Picture Oscar.
The MCU's Interconnectivity Can Limit Creativity
Let me start by saying right now that it's historic and unprecedented what Marvel has achieved with the MCU, and it may be a long time until we ever see anything quite like it again. With that being said, the shared universe has created a slew of films that feel formulaic and don't take many creative risks in order to maintain the delicate balance it has cultivated amongst its numerous franchises.
The result has been insanely successful at the box office, and it has been a long time since Marvel has gotten a less than favorable review from Rotten Tomatoes. Marvel has found what works and can consistently execute with great success. Even so, it took until the latter half of a decade for it to get a Best Picture nod for Black Panther, and after a decade of success, it wouldn't be surprising to see audiences and critics grow a bit weary of the Marvel formula going forward.
If winning Best Picture is the goal, Marvel will need make room in its plans to allow for some truly groundbreaking and inventive moments in its movies going forward. Unfortunately, there are still instances of directors exiting projects due to creative differences and deadlines, which may signal there are no present plans for that to happen in Phase 5. I'm not saying it's completely impossible for Marvel to win Best Picture its way, but it will be much harder given the types of movies that tend to win.
The Academy Awards Really Seem To Like The Joker
It would be quite a feat for Joker to top its current competition for Best Picture, but being nominated means it has a shot. And while Best Picture nominations for sequels are rare, Joker has received enough nominations to suggest Joker 2 could be one of those movies that ends up defying the odds and even win. Enough about that for now though, since Todd Phillips has refuted there have been official talks to make that movie.
It also helps that the Academy Awards has looked favorably on the Batman franchise as a whole over the years. From Batman to Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, the Batman franchise has received 15 Oscar nominations and 3 of those golden trophies to show for it. Of course, a bulk of those nominations and awards came from The Dark Knight, which featured an iconic performance from Heath Ledger as Joker. That film missing out on Best Picture was considered a massive snub by the Academy, and now we have Joker up for contention.
Take that and pair it with the solid amount of recognition the movie already received, as well as the Batman franchise's past success, and I don't think it's that crazy to think Joker could win Best Picture. If it does, then obviously DC has beaten Marvel to a major accomplishment in the genre of superhero movies. If Marvel is worried about that happening, it sure hasn't shown so, though it would be interesting to see if its strategy was switched up just a bit should Joker win that coveted Oscar.
Will A Superhero Movie Ever Win Best Picture?
I don't have a crystal ball, but I can say that it certainly feels like a good sign that a superhero movie has found itself in contention for Best Picture two years in a row. If the past decade has proven anything, it's that audiences haven't tired of superhero movies and are well-accustomed with the characters enough to accept when projects step out a bit and try something a little more daring.
Right now, DC is just in the better position to do that. As I mentioned earlier, I don't think it's impossible for Marvel to get Best Picture its current way, but when projects like Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame and Black Panther have been overlooked, there may never be a Marvel movie under the MCU that manages to achieve that honor. Of course, Marvel Studios has frequently surprised audiences over the years, so far be it from me to count the studio out completely
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