No superhero movie has ever been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Not Logan, not The Dark Knight, not the original Superman. That changed Tuesday morning, when Marvel’s Black Panther was among the eight nominees for the Oscars’ biggest prize, along with BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star is Born, and Vice.
The Ryan Coogler-directed film, which was a critical (97 percent “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes) and commercial (over $1.3 billion at the worldwide box office) smash for Disney, was actually nominated in seven categories overall: Costume Design, Original Score, Original Song (“All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA), Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and, of course, Best Picture. It’s a historic moment for Marvel (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is also up for Animated Feature), for comic book movies, and for the Oscars.
“A lot of our films, I think very rightfully and hopefully successfully, just feel like pieces of pure escapism. This movie attempts to do more,” Nate Moore, Marvel Studios’ VP of development and production, said about Black Panther when asked about the possibility of the film winning an Oscar. “It attempts to make people think about the world that’s around them and celebrate, frankly, a continent, in Africa, that’s often overlooked. I don’t think that at any point in the process did we feel like this could be an awards movie. But we did feel like this could have depth in a way that our movies don’t always do.”
I guess the Academy doesn’t need the Popular Film category after all.
It’s hard for a good man to be king, but it’s even harder for a superhero movie to win Best Picture. Maybe Black Panther will be the first. We’ll find out February 24. Until then, the happy reactions to the nomination(s) are already rolling in.