How victories for Black Panther and Spider-Man represent a dynamic shift in how we view motion pictures
And the Oscar goes to…
How many times have we heard these famous words only to have our dreams crushed as the Academy Award is bestowed upon a movie far less deserving of the honour? I can think of several. The most bewildering being John Williams’ defeat in the Best Original Score category last year. The legendary composer was nominated for his superb score for Rian Johnson’s divisive Star Wars: The Last Jedi but lost out to the charmingly poignant but inferior score from Best Picture Award Winner The Shape of Water. Take nothing away from the movie itself, The Shape of Water was a worthy winner of Best Picture, but the wonderful score from Alexandre Desplat paled in comparison to yet another masterful symphony from John Williams.
This year promised to be a landmark event for the movie industry with unexpected nominations for Marvel Studios’ highly acclaimed adventure Black Panther and Sony Pictures Animation’s celebrated animated feature Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse.
Their candidacy represents a dynamic transformation in how the academy approaches its nominees. Traditionally, comic book movies are omitted from consideration due to the nature of their content, with a terrible by-product of having the performances of their stars demoted for their lack of authenticity when compared to the more genuine and dramatic reflection of human struggle. However, with Black Panther being accepted as a cultural phenomenon and celebrated by audiences and critics in every corner of the globe, Ryan Coogler’s superb efforts could not be overlooked.
The same can be said for Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. The Marvel animated feature has been hailed as a triumph for its refreshing and imaginative take on the Spider-Man universe and is a worthy addition to the fraternity of animated movies nominated for consideration.
And yet, their inclusion was greeted with scepticism. Not because they were inferior movies. But because of the legacy of stigma attached to the comic book genre. Would their inclusion be nothing more than a token nomination designed to appease the masses and cleanse the preconception that the Academy is out of touch with the rest of the world, biased against the movies we love and regard as some of the finest ever produced?
Thankfully, our fears were unwarranted, and history was made in one unforgettable night.
Despite being overlooked in the Best Picture Category, Black Panther went on to claim the Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, Best Production Design and finally Best Original Score for Ludwig Goransson‘s culturally immersive and enriching soundtrack. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse bolstered Black Panther‘s accomplishment and cemented a well-deserved superhero victory by claiming the award for Best Animated Feature.
At long last, thanks to the efforts of Black Panther and Into The Spider-Verse the Hollywood landscape has changed for the better and their victories represent the first step toward a brighter, more accessible future for the comic book genre. Whereas in previous years, critically acclaimed movies like The Dark Knight, a movie regarded by many as Christopher Nolan’s crowning achievement have been criminally overlooked, future events hold the pledge that characters like Aquaman, Wonder Woman, the Avengers and Batman will be richly rewarded for their efforts.
And that is an exciting prospect.
Congratulations to Ryan Coogler and his fantastic production team for a job well done. They are the pioneers forging a path to the promised land where the keys to Valhalla are finally attainable for comic book characters and the fantastic stories they tell. Thanks to Black Panther and Into The Spider-Verse we can all look forward to the day when future adventures with The Dark Knight and Aquaman can take their rightful place amongst the biggest movies in Hollywood history and receive the credit they so richly deserve. It is to the visionaries at Marvel Studios, Warner Bros. and DC Comics we commit our future, it is their destiny to fill this newly found promised land with fantastical characters and their exciting stories.
Thankfully, we get to enjoy the ride.
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