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‘AVENGERS’: On the lone Oscars nod from the summer of superheroes

REMEMBER THE last time a superhero film won Best Picture?

I don’t, either.

Sure, heroic figures of myth and history from “Blood and Guts” Patton to T.E. Lawrence “of Arabia” have been front-and-center in films recognized by the Academy as the greatest of their years. But super-heroes are another matter altogether.

And so we have yet another year when superheroes dominated the summer box office — Disney/Marvel’s “The Avengers” ($1.5-billion-plus globally) grossed more than all nine Best Picture nominees combined — but get little love come the critical chill the following winter.

The recent irony in all that, of course, is that the Oscar snubbing of 2008’s “The Dark Knight” as a Best Picture nominee is widely cited as the reason that the Academy expanded the now-malleable category to a maximum of 10 nods.

For all the success since of the Marvel comic-book films, though, Thursday’s announcements meant that the superhero-less streak continues for another year. (Although nods to “Avatar” and the “picture book”-spawned “Hugo” suggest that the path to victory isn’t so distant.)

[2013 OSCARS NOMS: Pixar’s “Brave” director Brenda Chapman ”overwhelmed” by “bittersweet” animation nod]

Granted, 2012 is acknowledged to be an especially strong year for film. And so fans of Spandex must look to one category that has consistently been friendly to them — the creative ice-fortress where superheroes can consistently find shelter amid the Ewoks, extraterrestrials and hobbits.

That would be Visual Effects, a category that in the mid-’70s gained new standing as it shed “special” from its name.

“THE AVENGERS”: The new Visual Effects sizzle reel:

The CGI’d Mark Ruffalo as Hulk in "The Avengers". (Used by permisson 2011 MARVEL /.)

On Thursday, Joss Whedon’s critically praised “The Avengers” received the lone 2013 Oscar nomination for comic-book films: the movie’s Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick were nominated for Visual Effects.

By doing so, they join a lineage of such past Visual Effects nominees as ”Iron Man” 1 and 2 (for which Sudick and Sirrs are previous nominees), ”The Dark Knight,” “Superman Returns,” “Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man 2” (the latter won Oscar), “Batman Returns” and “Superman” (which received a Special Achivement Award).

[“THE AVENGERS”: Assembling a supreme Hulk]

So Comic Riffs officially salutes “The Avengers” for flying the Spandex flag at this year’s Oscars (which will air Feb. 24 on ABC).

“Visual effects is a truly collaborative process, and I am thrilled to see the hard work and dedication of all the artists that worked on ‘The Avengers’ recognized by the Academy,” White, visual effects supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic and a first-time nominee, told Comic Riffs on Thursday. “The films nominated for visual effects this year are diverse and beautiful, and it’s truly an honor to be considered with them.” (The other nominees are “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” ”Life of Pi,” “Prometheus” and “Snow White and the Huntsman.” It’s worth noting, btw, that every film in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy won this award.).

“It¹s an incredible honor to be nominated for an Academy Award,” White tells Comic Riffs. “I couldn¹t be more excited.”

Neither could we, Mr. White. Congratulations.

[ILM’s ‘RANGO’: How the Depp film could help change the game]

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) join forces in “The Avengers.” (Zade Rosenthal/ZADE ROSENTHAL)




Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.


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