Summary

  • Cillian Murphy’s first Best Actor Oscar nomination was for Oppenheimer, showcasing his journey from a comic book villain to leading man.
  • Emma Stone’s Best Actress nomination comes after her emotional turn as Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man, a role that left an impact.
  • Bradley Cooper, despite voicing Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy, earned his nomination for Best Actor in Maestro, a film he directed.

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The 2024 Oscars are around the corner, and interestingly enough, Hollywood’s biggest night honors an eclectic bunch of actors who are veterans of Marvel and DC movies. Superhero movies produced by these two comic book giants are often not nominated at the Academy Awards (barring technical categories and occasional Best Picture nominees like Black Panther). This year is no exception, although the Marvel Cinematic Universe scored a Best Visual Effects spot, thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Meanwhile, Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse also earned a nomination for Best Animated Feature, the same category that its predecessor won.

And while the DC Extended Universe movies are absent this awards season, The Dark Knight trilogy mastermind Christopher Nolan is eyeing the Best Director prize for Oppenheimer while his lead actor has come a long way since playing an iconic comic villain. Nine out of twenty acting nominees are also notably actors from past Marvel movies, having played superheroes, supervillains, or crucial supporting characters to the protagonists. From the Best Supporting Actor frontrunner who kickstarted the MCU timeline in 2008 to the actor playing a Gotham policeman in The Batman, the Oscars have no dearth of superhero stars to award.

10 Oppenheimer’s Cillian Murphy Was The Dark Knight Trilogy’s Scarecrow

Murphy Has Had Multiple Collaborations With Christopher Nolan

Irish actor Cillian Murphy’s creative partnership with Christopher Nolan started with Batman Begins, in which he played Arkham Asylum psychologist Dr Jonathan Crane, aka the sadistic Fear Toxin creator known as Scarecrow. As Murphy reprised his role in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, Scarecrow became one of the Dark Knight trilogy’s most enduring villains. Finally, Murphy got the spotlight as the lead in a Nolan film, ever since he played the eponymous theoretical physicist in Oppenheimer. Murphy’s harrowing, hollow-eyed performance as the enigmatic Father of the Atomic Bomb garnered him his first-ever Oscar Best Actor nomination.

Every Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy Collaboration

Batman Begins (2005)

The Dark Knight (2008)

Inception (2010)

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Dunkirk (2017)

Oppenheimer (2023)

9 Poor Things’ Emma Stone Previously Played Gwen Stacey

The Oscar Winner Was An Emotional Highlight Of The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Split images of Emma Stone staring in Poor Things and Emma Stone looking sideways in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

A subversively feminist take on Frankenstein’s monster, Emma Stone plays Bella Baxter with utmost naivety that later turns into an unabashed boldness that only the La La Land actress could capture in Yorgos Lanthimos’ dark steampunk comedy Poor Things. Before Stone received a Best Actress nomination for playing a Victorian Londoner resurrected from a brain transplant, the one-time Oscar winner and four-time nominee featured prominently in The Amazing Spider-Man movies as Peter Parker’s high-school classmate and love interest Gwen Stacy. Gwen met a tragically comic-accurate death in what was one of the most emotional highlights of the otherwise polarizing sequel.

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8 Maestro’s Bradley Cooper Is The Voice Of Rocket Raccoon

The Actor-Director Is An Integral Part Of The Guardians Of The Galaxy Franchise

Split images of Bradley Cooper looking sideways with a cigarette in mouth in Maestro and Rocket Raccoon appearing concerned in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 sets a new Oscar record for Marvel trilogies, as its Best Visual Effects nomination means that Guardians is the only MCU series in which every movie garnered an Oscar nomination since the Iron Man trilogy. Meanwhile, the Best Actor category includes the MCU movie’s foul-mouthed, weapon-stealing racoon. While Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon witnessed an emotional backstory in the James Gunn film, Cooper earned a Best Actor nomination for portraying legendary composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, a biopic that he directed and co-wrote (earning his second 2024 Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay).

Maestro‘s Best Actor nomination marks Bradley Cooper’s fifth acting nomination and twelfth Oscar nomination overall.

7 The Holdovers’ Paul Giamatti Was Once Sony Spider-Man’s Rhino

Giamatti Appeared In Armor In The Final Scene Of The Amazing Spider-Man 2

After a versatile career spanning multiple decades, Paul Giammati earned his second Oscar nomination for portraying an uptight history teacher in The Holdovers. Eager to take on all sorts of character roles, the Golden Globe and Emmy winner was even roped in to play the armored supervillain Rhino in The Amazing Spider-Man franchise. The Best Actor nominee played the Russian Mafia mobster Aleksei Systevich briefly in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and even donned the Rhino armor toward the end. The movie’s Sinister Six tease left more future potential for his character until the franchise ceased production.

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What Rhino’s Shell Look Like In Sony’s Spider-Man Universe & How It’s Different To Paul Giamatti’s

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6 Nyad’s Annette Bening Played The Supreme Intelligence In Captain Marvel

The Actress Is A Five-Time Oscar Nominee

Split images of Annette Bening submerged in water in Nyad and Annette Bening smiling in Captain Marvel

From American Beauty to The Kids Are All Right, Annette Bening is Oscar royalty with five acting nominations to her name. The 2024 Oscars included her in the Best Actress category for Nyad, the sports biopic starring Bening as long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, who swam from Cuba to Florida in her sixties. Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will remember Bening from the 2019 blockbuster Captain Marvel in which she played the artificial intelligence-driven embodiment of the Kree people’s thoughts, aka the Supreme Intelligence. The character first manifests as rebel Kree scientist Mar-Vell and Carol Danvers’ aviation superior, Dr. Wendy Lawson.

5 American Fiction’s Jeffrey Wright Voiced The Watcher In Marvel’s What If…? And Played Jim Gordon In The Batman

This Is The Reputed Character Actor’s First Oscar Nomination

Split images of Jeffrey Wright looking sideways in The Batman and American Fiction and a still from Marvel's What If featuring The Watcher staring intensely

American Fiction’s Best Actor nominee Jeffrey Wright joins the ranks of actors with roles in both Marvel and DC projects. The James Bond franchise alumnus voiced the Watcher in Marvel’s What If…?, the narrator and all-powerful guardian of multiple timelines of the animated anthology series. In live-action, Wright also plays the Gotham City policeman Jim Gordon, the fiercely loyal ally to the titular vigilante in The Batman. Wright is nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for starring in American Fiction as Monk Ellison, a writer who pens an outlandish satirical novel after being frustrated with stereotypical depictions of Black people.

4 Oppenheimer’s Robert Downey Jr Will Always Be Remembered As Iron Man

This Is The MCU Veteran’s Third Oscar Nomination

Thanks to Chaplin and Tropic Thunder, Robert Downey Jr. was already a two-time Oscar nominee as 2008’s Iron Man resurrected his career. From an arc reactor inserted in his chest in Iron Man to snapping Thanos out of existence in Avengers: Endgame, Downey Jr has been synonymous with the MCU for a decade. Post-Marvel, Downey Jr. played Lewis Strauss, a retired Navy officer who chairs the Atomic Energy Commission in Oppenheimer. His portrayal of an empathy-inducing antagonist in Christopher Nolan’s period epic drew universal critical acclaim, and the MCU actor is touted as the Best Supporting Actor frontrunner this year.

3 Poor Things’ Mark Ruffalo Is The MCU’s Hulk

This Is The Bruce Banner Actor’s Fourth Oscar Nomination

Split images of Mark Ruffalo looking sideways in Poor Things and The Avengers

Mark Ruffalo is usually used to playing positive characters, but his Best Supporting Actor Oscar-nominated role in Poor Things finds him playing the morally twisted lawyer Duncan Wedderburn. Ruffalo is a delight to watch as his sexually debauched character attempts to woo Emma Stone’s heroine (and miserably fails). While Ruffalo has been making a mark in critics’ circles with offbeat performances, he’s often cherished among MCU fans as the actor playing Hulk in live-action. Despite not leading a solo Hulk movie yet, Ruffalo’s scientist-turned-beast has made his presence felt in Marvel projects like The Avengers, Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Endgame.

2 American Fiction’s Sterling K Brown Played Killmonger’s Father

Split images of Sterling K Brown in a swimming pool in American Fiction and Sterling K Brown looking sideways in Black Panther

With This Is Us and American Crime Story, Sterling K Brown has had a few Emmy wins to his credit. But American Fiction marks Brown’s first-ever Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He displays his comedic and dramatic range as Jeffrey Wright’s on-screen brother, a plastic surgeon estranged from his family. Coming to familial troubles, Brown also had a brief yet crucial role in Black Panther playing Erik Killmonger’s slain father N’Jobu. The younger brother of then-Black Panther T’Chaka, he betrays Wakanda to help oppressed people all over the world. N’Jobu’s death is the main catalyst behind the movie’s events.

1 Barbie’s America Ferrera Will Join What If…? Season 3

The Oscar Best Supporting Actress Nominee’s Marvel Role Isn’t Disclosed Yet

A surprising nominee in the Best Supporting Actress category at the 2024 Oscars was America Ferrera, who played the disgruntled Mattel employee Gloria in Greta Gerwig’s fantasy satire Barbie. Ferrera has some of the best moments in the film as she helps Margot Robbie’s Barbie discover the human world and delivers a rousing monologue on being a modern-day woman. Interestingly, Ferrera’s post-Barbie projects include a role in the new season of Marvel’s What If…? although details of her role have been kept under wraps. Adding an Oscar nominee like the Superstore actress is a great addition to the MCU pantheon.

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