The Avengers


Oscar Watch

The Avengers has never faced a foe as stingy as the Oscar voter.

In the long history of the Academy Awards, just one film based on a comic has ever been nominated for Best Picture—and it wasn't The Dark Knight, The Road to Perdition, American Splendor or Richard Donner's Superman

What qualities did this select film possess, and does The Avengers, riding high on near-unprecedented waves of critical and popular support, share them?

 A look at how the Marvel blockbuster matches up against Skippy—yes, Skippy:

Available in Black-and-White? No, but this is not a point against The Avengers, because for Skippy, black-and-white wasn't an artistic decision à la The Artist. On the contrary, color—much less IMAX 3-D—wasn't a viable option when the film, based on the same-titled comic strip about a spunky boy, was released 81 years ago.

Hailed as a "Kid Picture for Grownups"? As a movie for "kids of all ages," actually, but close enough. 

Inspired Immediate Plans for a Sequel? Yes, although while The Avengers 2 is going to happen, Sooky, focusing on Skippy's best friend, flat-out happened—as in was captured on film, developed in a lab and presented to paying customers only eight months after Skippy debuted. 

Action Driven by the Formation of Unlikely Alliances? Robert Downey Jr.'s playboy Tony Stark and Mark Ruffalo's loner Bruce Banner can rival Jackie Cooper's fancy-pants Skippy and his wrong-side-of-the-tracks pal Sooky (Robert Coogan) any day. 

Fight Scenes? Yes!

Fight Scenes Featuring Bare-Knuckled Combat? Yes, as Chris Hemsworth's Thor, who finds himself on the receiving end of a Hulk sucker punch, can attest.

Fight Scenes Feature Bare-Knuckled Combat and Tough-Talking Scamps? Well, no—and this is where things start to go south for The Avengers

Bicycles? Lemonade stands? No and no. 

Cute Dogs? No. Although if it makes The Avengers feel better, Skippy's Penny, cute though she may be, is kind of a blank slate and is certainly no Uggie.

Cute Dogs Who Are Shot (OffScreen) and Leave the Protagonists in Tears? No.

Directors Who Pretend to Shoot Their Actors' Real-Life Dogs in Order to Get Them to Cry? No, but really this is just another reason to admire The Avengers' Joss Whedon, even if Skippy's Norman Taurog was rewarded with the Best Director Oscar. 

Plays Like a Comic-Book Movie? The Avengers, as has been argued, plays like the "perfect" comic-book movie—and that may be its fatal flaw, as Skippy does not. Even as it retains the sensibility of its source material, Skippy shoots dogs (offscreen) and makes little kids cry. It's a sentimental drama. It's the talkie version of The Artist. It is not The Avengers

The Bottom Line: Leading oddsmaker Johnny Avello, executive director of race and sports operations for the Wynn Las Vegas, tells us he gives The Avengers a distant 40-to-1shot at being nominated for Best Picture and a beyond-distant 1,000-to-1 shot at winning.

Says Avello: "Those type of movies have a lot going against them."

Which is why Skippy was fortunate to not really be one of those movies.

PHOTOS: Flick Pics: The Avengers

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