Can ‘Wonder Woman’ buck the odds for superhero movies at the Oscars?

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) hasn’t always been the star in Justice League comics, but she will be in the movie, thanks to her successful solo movie.
(Warner Bros. / DC Comics)

First she won over critics, stirred up audiences and vanquished the box office. Now Wonder Woman is hoping to do what no superhero before her has done: Crack the Oscars.

Charging into awards season like Princess Diana of Themyscira into No Man’s Land, Warner Bros.’ $821 million-grossing “Wonder Woman” — the highest-grossing live action film directed by a woman — is swinging its sword for major nominations including best picture, best director for Patty Jenkins, and lead actress for star Gal Gadot.

In 2009 Christopher Nolan’s artsy “The Dark Knight” was widely perceived as a best picture and director contender, before nominations morning crushed the Bat’s aspirations. Last year 20th Century Fox’s R-rated “Deadpool” got fan hopes up again, armed with Golden Globe, DGA, PGA and WGA nods. Alas: The Merc with a Mouth failed to secure a single Oscar nomination.

But “Wonder Woman,” one of the best-reviewed films of 2017 with a 92% Rotten Tomatoes rating, boasts a zeitgeist-fueled momentum that could help it punch through the film academy’s spandex ceiling, where only four women have ever been nominated for best director and only one woman, Kathryn Bigelow, has ever won (for 2009’s “The Hurt Locker”).


Recent infusions of diversity and youth into the academy’s membership might also help the “Wonder Woman” odds. The numbers don’t hurt, either: Last week Warner Bros. and DC’s first female-fronted superhero tale scored another major milestone, surpassing 2002’s “Spider-Man” to become the highest-grossing superhero origin movie of all time.

Superhero movies have been banging at Oscar’s door since Nolan reinvented the genre as legitimate art and caught the attention of awards voting bodies. Even though it failed to break into the best picture race, “The Dark Knight” was nominated for eight Oscars and won two, including a posthumous nod for Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. And the picture snub is thought to have prompted the expansion of the academy’s top honor from five to 10 nominees the following year.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "Justice League."
(Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment )

In a banner year for rallying around women within and outside of the industry, June’s female-led, female-fronted “Wonder Woman” became emblematic of hope: Feminists in a post-Trump America embraced Gadot’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman as a strong and overdue screen champion. And comic book fans got the first superhero movie since Nolan’s Batman saga with a serious shot at the big show.


Warner Bros. officially debuted a For Your Consideration campaign in October, pushing “Wonder Woman” in 15 categories alongside its other key contenders “Blade Runner 2049,” “Dunkirk” and “The Lego Batman Movie.” Screenings have been set for awards voters in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and London, with screener mailings expected to land soon in voters’ mailboxes. Both Gadot and Jenkins — who will return for the sequel — have hit the glitzy awards trail.

Jenkins previously won the Directors Guild of America award for her work on the pilot of AMC’s “The Killing” and won the Spirit award for her debut film “Monster,” which nabbed Charlize Theron an Oscar for lead actress.

The one-two punch of Gadot and Jenkins is a potent weapon in Warner Bros.’ For Your Consideration arsenal. It was on display at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon last month, where Gadot honored her “superhuman” director.

“Patty represents everything that is good in Hollywood,” said Gadot, who will hit screens again this month in WB’s “Justice League,” keeping her Wonder Woman fresh in the minds of moviegoers, critics — and awards voters.

Jenkins, set to be feted Nov. 13 as one of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year alongside fellow honorees U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, Solange Knowles, the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington and more, returned the love. “It takes a special person to go on-screen and embody something for us, but [Gadot] embodies it every day.”