The 2019 Oscars will be awarded on February 24, and Black Panther is stealing all of the headlines. It is the first superhero movie ever to be nominated for Best Picture (even though this feat should have gone to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight). Not only is Black Panther breaking down Hollywood’s superhero-barriers, its also bringing some much needed color to Hollywood’s biggest night. Black Panther had an almost all black cast, featuring Chadwick Boseman as the titular superhero, Michael B. Jordan as Eric Killmonger, a villain that will leave you conflicted, Letitia Wright as Wakanda’s resident genius-princess Shuri, and Dania Gurira as Okoye, the fearsome leader of the Dora Milaje.
In addition to Best Picture, it was also nominated for Best Original Music Score, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design and Best Sound Editing. However, while other superhero movies have won Oscars for costumes, sound, and production before, the Best Picture nod was truly a surprise. And notwithstanding Hollywood’s extremely slow warm-up to the fantastical stories featuring heroes in tights, it must be said that Black Panther is so much more than just another superhero movie.
It earned critical acclaim from everyone who saw it and was one of the most profitable movies of all time, taking in over $1 billion (yes, that’s billion with a ‘b’) at the global box office. Black Panther was more than just a movie phenomenon, it was a social phenomenon.
Maybe it was the fact that it was directed by Ryan Coogler, one of Hollywood’s best young directors, who also just happens to be black. Or maybe it was the African setting, the African inspired production or the African sound design. Or maybe it was none of that. Maybe it was the simple fact that Black Panther told a compelling story that just happened to feature great performances by black actors and a protagonist who liked to dress up as a Black Panther.
This nomination for Best Picture is a watershed moment for fans of superhero films. It’s indisputable that Black Panther is a fantastic piece of art, but at some point, we shouldn’t be surprised that a great movie is Oscar-worthy just because its source material is a comic book. The Oscars competition is fierce this year, and even if Black Panther doesn’t win, hopefully this paves the way for other great superhero movies to get the industry consideration they deserve.
Overall, comic book fans have been living in a golden age of movies. The last 10 years has given us some of the best iterations of superheroes, ever. Many kids of the 80s and 90s could only dream of seeing their favorite comic book stories being played out on the big screen, and now we get to relive that dream every year. As the wonderful, but sadly late, Stan Lee would say, Excelsior True Believer!