Plenty of side-eye landed on the Academy after their announcement of the “Popular” film category and for solid reason. Although the official justification for doing so was to counteract flagging ratings for the annual awards broadcast, the timing of the new category lands when many believe Black Panther could (and should) push against the grain of superhero tradition and receive a Best Picture nomination. The Academy later clarified to explain that films can be eligible for both Best Picture and the Popular category, but Marvel apparently isn’t waiting to see what happens in that regard.
The Los Angeles Times reports (via a studio spokesperson) that Marvel is going full steam ahead with previous plans to campaign hard for Black Panther. The reason for this unyielding determination, of course, is because Black Panther not only dominated the box office and earned critical acclaim but also aimed for a cultural shift. To that end, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who spoke out early in favor of the film’s Oscar potential, told the LA Times that the film is still deserving of the ultimate recognition:
“I would like to see the hard work and the effort and the vision and the belief of the talented filmmaker Ryan Coogler, who sat across the table from us a few years ago and said, ‘I have been wrestling with questions about my past and my heritage and I think I really want to tell a story within this movie.’ And that he did it so unbelievably well and with so much impact .. seeing that potentially being recognized is what excites me the most.”
The Oscars have never known what to do with superhero films, and after 2008’s The Dark Knight didn’t receive a Best Picture nod, which resulted in an outcry, the Academy responded by increasing the field to 10 possible films nominated. And now that Black Panther has taken Hollywood by storm, it (sadly) looks like the Academy tried to ward off criticism over Best Picture and created a massive ruckus in the process. Perhaps after all of this, Black Panther could walk away with both categories, but the fight to get there will be a real one. But hey, at least Mark Wahlberg is happy for now.