Other Times WB Tried To Push A Superhero Movie At The Oscars

Yesterday we learned Warner Bros. is reportedly eyeing a “formidable” Academy Award campaign for Wonder Woman, intending to garner nominations for Best Picture and Best Director for Patty Jenkins. It wouldn't be the first time Warner Bros. has put up a comic book film for Hollywood's biggest awards: the studio previously pushed “for your consideration” campaigns for comic book adaptations Superman Returns, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises.

As pointed out by a user on Twitter, Warner Bros. tried to land Bryan Singer a Best Director nomination for 2006’s Superman Returns, a quasi-sequel to Superman and Superman II, starring Christopher Reeve. The bid was unsuccessful: the competition-heavy 79th Academy Awards saw Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel), Clint Eastwood (Letters from Iwo Jima), Stephen Frears (The Queen), Paul Greengrass (United 93) and Martin Scorsese (The Departed) nominated in the Best Director category, with Scorsese taking home the coveted golden statue (his first).

After The Dark Knight proved to be both a financial and critical hit in the summer of 2008, Warner Bros. launched a campaign for the Batman Begins sequel, suggesting Christopher Nolan for Best Director, Christian Bale for Best Actor (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan (with story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer) for Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger (the Joker), Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth), Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon), Aaron Eckhart (Harvey Dent / Two-Face), and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), Best Supporting Actress for Maggie Gyllenhaal (Rachel Dawes), and Best Original Score for Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard.

The film was nominated in several categories at the 81st Academy Awards, racking up eight nominations in the categories of Best Supporting Actor (Heath Ledger), Best Art Direction (Nathan Crowley and Peter Land), Best Cinematography (Wally Pfister), Best Film Editing (Lee Smith), Best Makeup (John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan), Best Sound Editing (Richard King), Best Sound Mixing (Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novice), and Best Visual Effects (Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin). The Dark Knight ultimately took home two Oscars: one for King’s sound editing and the other for the late Heath Ledger.

Heath Ledger Joker The Dark Knight

Many fans called for The Dark Knight to receive a Best Picture nomination, and felt the film had been snubbed when it went without any major nominations save for Ledger’s entry in the Best Supporting Actor category. (Milk, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Slumdog Millionaire were up for Best Picture, with the prize going to the latter.) When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences upped the number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten the following year, The Dark Knight’s Best Picture snub — a widely criticized and talked about move — was said to have played a part in the Academy’s decision to expand the number of nominees.

The Dark Knight

Warner Bros. again campaigned for Christopher Nolan’s 2012 followup, The Dark Knight Rises, suggesting the trilogy-closer for Best Picture, Best Director for Christopher Nolan, Christopher Nolan along with Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor for Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Anne Hathaway for Best Actress (Selina Kyle / Catwoman), Marion Cotillard for Best Supporting Actress (Miranda / Talia al Ghul), Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth), Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon), Tom Hardy (Bane), Joseph-Gordon Levitt (John Blake), and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) for Best Supporting Actor, and Wally Pfister for Best Cinematography.

The Dark Knight Rises

Despite the studio’s efforts, The Dark Knight Rises was not nominated for any Academy Awards. The most recent DC Comics adaptation to take home an Oscar was Suicide Squad, in the category of Makeup and Hair Styling.

Wonder Woman has already been a monumental success: the latest DC Films production is not only the highest-grossing movie directed by a woman, it’s the top-grossing movie of the summer. If nominated, Wonder Woman would be the first comic book movie to be nominated for Best Picture, and Patty Jenkins would become the first filmmaker to receive a Best Director nomination for directing a comic book movie.