And the Oscar goes to … Wonder Woman! Can a superhero film take home best picture?

Patty Jenkins blockbuster torpedoed sexist stereotypes and triumphed at the box office. Now it faces its biggest challenge: winning over Academy voters

Dickenss line, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times seems strangely appropriate to the world of comic-book movies in 2017. Over the past couple of years weve seen some of the worst superhero films ever committed to celluloid , among them Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Yet weve also been treated to more glowingly reviewed comic-book films than ever before.

Rotten Tomatoes rates X-Men spin-off Logan, Marvels Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Lego Batman Movie all among the years best-reviewed films. And thats to not mention Marvels new effort, Thor: Ragnarok (amazingly at 98% at the time of writing) and Patty Jenkins groundbreaking Wonder Woman (92%).

Indeed, Warner Bros is so delighted with the excellent response to Jenkins movie that it is prepping Princess Diana of Themyscira for a full Oscars run, perhaps hopeful that the Academys recent injection of more younger voters and more female voters might help catapult the superhero epic to a best picture nomination at the very least. It seems a fair shout: Warners The Dark Knight remains the only superhero movie ever to win an Oscar in the major categories (posthumously for Heath Ledgers spiky turn as The Joker, which won him the best supporting actor gong in 2009), while Jenkins previous film Monster saw Charlize Theron win the best actress Oscar for her portrayal of the serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

Its hard to imagine future superhero movies carrying such cultural weight as Wonder Woman. Not only was it the best movie about a DC superhero since The Dark Knight, it also registered way beyond its core audience of geeks, winning praise for Jenkins deft use of warmth and humour to torpedo sexist narratives. It became so much a part of the 2017 conversation that the film-maker found herself caught up in a row with James Cameron over what a strong, powerful female hero should look like.

Still, if 2017 really is to be the year in which the genre movie finally takes over the Oscars, there may be better candidates than Wonder Woman. For big ideas and visual panache, Denis Villeneuves Blade Runner 2049 ticks all the existential boxes, and there have been few more impressive films than Matt Reeves War for the Planet of the Apes, with its brooding, dystopian vision and gasp-worthy technical audacity. Some might argue that Wonder Woman is not even the best superhero movie of 2017, an honour that could be handed to James Mangolds mesmerisingly dark and brutal Logan.

Patty Jenkins. Photograph: Lower/SilverHub/Rex/ Shutterstock

And yet Oscars often go to the most Oscarly movies, rather than the best ones. The question for Academy voters might be whether Jenkins big-hearted superhero epic suits the moment better than any of the alternatives. Its more than possible to make a case for Wonder Woman to defeat the odds and emerge triumphant, even if we dont know what the competition will be.

Film historians might look back on 2017 and note that this was the year in which certain previously untouchable Hollywood moguls found themselves publicly excoriated, leading to a change in attitudes towards the treatment of women by men in positions of power. What better way to honour that profound societal shift than to celebrate a totem of strong feminity, a superhero who refuses to be kept in the box that society has placed her in; who is comfortable with her own strength but avoids the puffed-up boastfulness of her male counterparts? It would be a triumph against the odds, but this is a well-reviewed movie that has struck a tone with many, and stranger things have happened.

In the unlikely event that Gadot finds herself on stage at the Dolby theatre in Los Angeles celebrating a best-picture win for Wonder Woman, there will be many who take that as a sign that these are not the worst of times after all.

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