How the Oscars' Massive Screw Up Helped Black Panther Push Superhero Movies to Awards Success

As Marvel fans no doubt recall, despite Marvel Studios movies routinely being nominated for Best Visual Effects Oscars, no film in the MCU really broke through with The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences until 2018's Black Panther. Prior to its release a handful of MCU movies had been nominated like Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Avengers, but Black Panther's staggering seven nominations, including Best Picture, was unprecedented for the House of Ideas, and it may not have happened if The Academy hadn't made a major faux pas ahead of that year's ceremony, the much maligned "Best Popular Film" category that never was.

In August of 2018, just a few months ahead of the 2019 Oscars ceremony and after six months of continuously building hype around Black Panther, The Academy announced their intention to have a "Best Popular Film" category. The Award, in theory, would have nominated and awarded fan-favorite blockbuster movies with Oscar gold that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten. It was thought of at the time that this category would bring in viewers eager to see movies they actually cared about that were up for an award, but in the end it was largely considered a patronizing idea by The Academy and was derided by film fans around the world; however, the people at Marvel think that this decision (which was withdrawn after one month) may have helped them in the end.

"To some degree, I do think that 'popular award' fiasco helped people to recontextualize what the movie was," executive producer Nate Moore revealed in recent book book, The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "Panther became the banner for, 'Are they trying to give it a pity award? And then you're like, 'Oh, wait. ... People are actually considering us for the regular award? It hung around in that context for a long time and became this zeirgeisty thing, which was nice." 

In the end Black Panther was nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Song, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing, and won the Oscars for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score

Production on the Black Panther sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is happening now in Atlanta. Ryan Coogler returns as writer and director for the follow-up which will not recast the role of T'Challa following the shocking death of Chadwick Boseman.