Does Marvel Really Have a Chance at the Oscars?…Does it Matter?
With the tremendous year that 2021 turned out to be for the MCU, Disney has been clear in its focus on Awards Season glory for its most successful franchise, but with the hesitance of the critical community, and the perceptions of Comic Book adaptations, does Marvel really have a chance at the Oscars?
Following a silent 2020, Marvel Studios experienced a bounce-back 2021 that featured some of their most inventive and ambitious projects to date.
Despite the failed experiment that was the Black Widow dual distribution model, the phenomenal film was clearly the most underappreciated work of the year, losing out due to the sheer amount of fantastic stories told throughout 2021.
Eternals was the most divisive film, yet featured a visual style orchestrated by its architect, Chloe Zhao, that puts it as one of the MCU’s most beautiful films.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stand out as one of the MCU’s best origin films, on par with Black Panther as a story that acts as the unforgettable debut to a character with the charisma and talent to be vital to the studio for years to come.
While the year ended with the incomparable Spider-Man: No Way Home; the celebration of over 20 years of Peter Parker on the big screen, and could easily be considered one of Marvel’s best films to date.
With the immense success of all of these films, Disney has made it clear their view of them as worthy of consideration from the Academy; with Shang-Chi, Eternals, and Spider-Man: No Way Home putting together robust campaigns.
But, does Marvel really have a chance at the Oscars? Or better yet, does it even matter?
The most successful Oscar campaign of any Marvel film was easily Black Panther, With the 2019 classic earning nominations in seven categories; Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Picture.
The film ended up taking home a tremendous three Academy Awards for Best Production Design, Best Original Score, and Best Costume Design for the tremendous work of Ruth E. Carter, who made history as the first African-American to take home the award.
Yet, for as fantastic a picture Black Panther was, and despite the monumental cinematic achievements it stood up against in the form of BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Roma; it lost out to the very humble Green Book.
The controversy shrouding the Academy is nothing new, neither is the continued reluctance for that same Academy- or the film critic community at large- to accept comic book adaptations as thoughtful, relevant, and emotionally resonant explorations into the very nature of humanity.
Shang-Chi is the poignant tale of a young boy avoiding the extreme consumption of his destiny, refusing the encompassing darkness of his father’s path, and finding solace in the honoring of his ancestors that have paved the way for his own unique self to shine forward.
Eternals is the love letter to humanity through the eyes of immortal Gods. With the visual narrative that colors a landscape of the struggle to protect the innocence of mankind.
And Spider-Man: No Way Home is the story of a young boy learning to cope with the immense and unbearable burden of doing what is right, regardless of the cost; and celebrating the 20 years of cinematic excellence that has taught a whole generation that with great power, comes great responsibility.
These films- these stories- are incredible reconstructions of what we perceive heroes to be. They are shining a light on the human experience, shown to us through the deep and overlooked capability within ourselves
Perhaps, when separated from that big red logo and the massive box office figures, these stories can stand together as some of the most creative, heartfelt, and powerful that the medium of film has to offer.
So, does Marvel really have a chance at the Osars? As much as any other year, I suppose. With 2021 presenting a new evolution of just what Marvel and its vast and immensely talented creators are capable of at the height of their powers.
Does it really matter? Absolutely not. Because Marvel, and the incredible stories of its source material, will continue to be some of the most relevant tales that we can offer the medium.
And it’s only a matter of time until The Academy recognizes that.