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Logan 2018 Oscar Nomination – Logan Just Had a Monumental Moment For Superhero Movies
The Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay has gone to Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Godfather (parts I and II), No Country For Old Men, and, last year, Moonlight. Now, for the first time, it could go to a superhero movie. This morning, Logan became the first film of the genre to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards. Even in the adjacent Best Original Screenplay category, the closest thing to a superhero film that’s been nominated is Pixar’s The Incredibles—which doesn’t even exactly count, as it wasn’t based on a pre-existing comic book property.
This marks another groundbreaking moment for the superhero genre, where in recent years it has been elevated from popcorn summer blockbuster to award-caliber films. Logan, for its part, played out more like a simmering arthouse film, an apocalyptic thriller and the final chapter for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. It detailed the tragic conclusion for the hero as he escorted a young mutant to safety across the southern United States. Co-writers James Mangold (also the film’s director), Michael Green, and Scott Frank crafted human, complex characters rarely seen within a genre, with sharp dialogue and truly emotional moments. This wasn’t simply an action film; it was a drama, a tragedy, a touching story above all else, all inspired by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s graphic novel Old Man Logan.
Certainly this isn’t the first Oscar-nominated superhero film (and Heath Ledger won for his role of the Joker in The Dark Knight). This is, however, the first superhero film to be nominated for its writing—something that’s never a focus on a genre that’s considered more for its technical mastery (sound and visual effects) than its stories.
As I noted when Logan came out early last year, this film marked a new era in the genre—on in which audiences aren’t afraid of complex heroes. It was a box-office success upon its release, even with a generally avoided R-rating. It also proved that studios were willing to take risks with the genre. In this case, it was a creatively ambitious superhero film that could have alienated audiences. Thankfully, the risk paid off, and even the Oscars are taking note.
This nomination—even though it won’t likely be a win up against Call Me By Your Name—is a huge step for superhero films. What this means going forward is that studios may begin to put real effort into these stories. While the action sequences might be important, the plot and dialogue can shine as well. It means that studios will hopefully continue to take risks with these stories—and that the creative liberty superheroes have enjoyed for decades might finally translate to the big screen. Most importantly, studios will hopefully think twice before releasing a dull, formulaic story that’s all CGI flash and no substance (ahem: Justice League, Batman v Superman, etc., etc.) And maybe that will be Wolverine’s truly final heroic moment.