James Mangold’s Logan just made comic book movie history by receiving an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for the 90th Academy Award nominations. This is the first time a superhero film has ever been nominated for the category.
The screenplay for Logan was done by Mangold, Scott Frank, and American Gods’ Michael Green. The three gave us one of the best films of the year with excellent performances by Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, and Boyd Holbrook.
The nomination is historic, but also quite surprising. Superhero films are never nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay let alone Best Picture. They are usually nominated for technical awards such as Best Visual Effects or Best Sound Editing. In fact, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was nominated for Best Visual Effects. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight previously won an Oscar for Best Sound Editing and Suicide Squad won Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
Many believe that superhero films target the lowest common denominator because they have mass appeal and bring in a ton of cash and put people in the seats. And do they ever bring in people. Box Office Mojo shows that almost half of the top 15 grossing films of 2017 were based on comic book characters.
But superhero films are also largely neglected because they don’t fall in line with the tastes of the Academy and critics in general. Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos pointed out the disconnect between critics and audiences. Sarandos called critics “a select group of social media influencers talking to a select audience.” Hastings was more on point when he said “critics are pretty disconnected from the mass appeal, especially remembering international at this point.” In fact, it’s not just superhero films that get this flack. Many fantasy, science fiction, animated movies, and even comedies are also lumped into this category.
And if the trend continues this might be the lowest rated Oscar’s in years. Last year, was the lowest rated show in nine years. Overall viewership was down 4% and viewers aged 18-49 was down 13%. Deadline reported they “were the third-least-watched of the 21st century.”
The Academy might want to look at the movies they are choosing for these prestigious categories and begin making adjustments to actually connect with audiences. Logan’s nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay hints that change might just be underway. But is it too little, too late for the Academy?
Regardless, Logan’s nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay is well deserved. It was one of the best films of the year!