Editorial: Wonder Woman Wasn’t Snubbed by the Oscars

Emotion should never trump logic.

By Robert Marrujo:: I was very outspoken about James Cameron's misguided attempts to brand Wonder Woman as anything other than a step forward for women in genre films. Gal Gadot's turn as the nominal Amazonian was a sight to behold on the big screen, with a ton of action and wonderful character interactions to take in. Not once did Gadot come across as an object to be ogled, not once did she ever appear weak and mewling. Wonder Woman was depicted as powerful and brave, and the sequel to her first move has a ton of anticipation and expectations that it will be every bit as good as the original.

That said, it ain't no Oscar-worthy feature film.

Remember Captain America: The First Avenger? Yeah, if Wonder Woman isn't essentially the DC equivalent of that movie I'll eat my shoe. Which isn't an insult to Wonder Woman by any means. The First Avenger was a fine bit of world-building for Captain America, showing off his origins and establishing his role in the cinematic Marvel Universe. It was even a period piece, something (at the time and really, even still now) very unusual for a superhero film. Origin story. A world at war. Period film. Any of that sound familiar?

Wonder Woman is basically a re-skinned take on Steve Roger's first bow on the silver screen. People can quibble over the small details all they like, but these two movies are not that much different than each other, including in terms of quality. Yet for all that the two movies got right... The First Avenger wasn't nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and neither was Wonder Woman. The reason? Neither movies deserved to be.

I love superhero films, but I'm absolutely prepared to step back and accept that the bulk of them aren't the greatest movies ever made. As spectacle there are few other films in cinema capable of matching what Marvel and DC are producing these days. At the same time, all the CGI and amazing fight choreography can't make up for a relative lack of pathos and quality when compared to the sorts of movies that do walk away with a Best Picture Oscar. Would anyone really in their right mind pit Schindler's List up against Wonder Woman and try to make the argument that they're even in the same stratosphere of cinematic achievement? Not likely. I know I don't.

Yet, Schindler's List is practically emblematic of the sort of movie that gets nominated and wins at the Academy Awards. 12 Years a Slave, Unforgiven, and countless other classic, industry defining and redefining films that pushed cinema forwards in a myriad of different ways. Wonder Woman is not that. "But wait!", some of you might be shouting. "Wonder Woman was a huge step forward for women in Hollywood. It showed that superhero movies don't need to be helmed by men. It was a major improvement in terms of female representation and empowerment!" All of that is absolutely true and very important. It doesn't mean the movie is worthy of a Best Picture Oscar.

Now I will concede that it's a bit odd the film didn't at least get some nominations from a technical standpoint, even that isn't entirely mysterious. The competition was incredibly stiff for this year's Academy Awards in that particular area, and while Wonder Woman was certainly shot beautifully, I'd argue that it, like its story, didn't do much to stand out from the crowd. It's a fairly (for a superhero movie) grounded film, with more fights with soldiers and normal people, as opposed to enormous space aliens and bugs, like Wonder Woman's competition in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 and Kong: Skull Island, respectively. Again, I can see some outrage here, but as is the case overal in this situation, it's grossly overblown.

One of the biggest pitfalls of this age of social media that we all live in is that emotion is too often allowed to be used in lieu of logic, reason, and facts. It feels nice to say Wonder Woman deserves a Best Picture nod, but the facts just don't support that. There have been a handful of superhero films that could be argued to have deserved the highest honor a movie can get; The Dark Knight springs to my mind more than any other. Yet, even there I can understand why it wasn't even nominated. It simply wasn't an impactful film beyond the world of superhero genre flicks.

Neither is Wonder Woman. It's made a dent in the male-inundated landscape of Marvel and DC's superhero slate of films, but beyond that it didn't have anything to say that set it apart from any other spandex-fest before it. It just did everything a solid superhero movie should but happened to have a woman at the helm, both on and off-screen. I applaud that. I respect that. But I don't pretend that's enough to shoehorn in Wonder Woman at the Oscars just so the myopic masses on social media can feel good. So please, put down the pitch forks and torches—the Academy got this one right.

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