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The Oscars are airing on ABC this year, a network owned by Disney which in extension also owns Marvel. It's a perfect reason for the studio to cross-promote with the TV channel and with no host, it does not surprise me there might be a push to bring as many cast members from Avengers: Endgame together as possible. Still, it's pretty weird that this is the direction the 91st Academy Awards seems to be going in, for myriad reasons.
After we learned that Kevin Hart quit the Oscars following a brouhaha surrounding old tweets, the Academy Awards were having trouble lining up a new host. Now, the show will be going without this year, and will instead be using a "rotating cast of stars," per THR, to fill the gaps. Among those stars are a slew of Marvel cast members.
When last we checked, it seemed likely that at least some of the Avengers would make an appearance, but that the details were still being hammered out. (Don Cheadle, for one, doesn't seem to be in the loop.)
Supposing we are going to be getting some major Marvel actors together for the Oscars ceremony, it seems incredibly gracious of the actors to do so. First and foremost, it wasn't so long ago that superheroes were decidedly unwelcome within the context of awards shows.
That's changing a little bit this year, as for the first time, a superhero movie could get a nod in the Best Picture category. Previously, Marvel movies have been relegated to the side categories, things like VFX in particular. Not that those teams aren't important to making films a success as well, but it's very clear that the Best Picture and Best Actor categories are the ones that hold the most prestige -- at any awards show, not just the Oscars.
So, if you look at the history of Marvel movies at the Academy Awards, you will see the nominations are mostly in the Best Visual Effects category, and the last time a Marvel movie actually won in that category was for Spider-Man 2, so we'd really have to thank Sony. Other superhero projects, like Logan and The Dark Knight, have expanded out slightly in nominations.
In general, Marvel movies have been overlooked by the Academy.
A few months ago, Disney put all of its awards eggs into Black Panther's basket and the origin story was recently nominated for several Golden Globes. So, the plans to push Black Panther have at least worked to an extent. (It didn't win the Golden Globe for Best Drama after all.) Regardless, a nomination would still be a step in an important direction.
Having superhero representation at the Oscars is great in a lot of ways, because it ties a stuffy awards ceremony with the films that people are actually shelling out to see in the theaters. Yet, it's sort of ridiculous that ABC wants to push popular characters like The Avengers to sell its show when they still aren't being given a seat at the table by the Academy.
Then there's the second problem.
Black Panther is a solid original movie with excellent performances and cool world building. However, there are factions of people who love the Black Panther origin story and are happy Wakanda also ended up being a major location in Avengers: Infinity War, but still would have pushed the latter movie over the former for awards consideration.
After all, Infinity War had a shocking ending, made great use of an ensemble cast, told a superhero story we'd never seen before and let the bad guy win. More on that here. We're sort of comparing apples to other apples here, and I'd have to guess the other Infinity War actors aren't displeased about Chadwick Boseman and co.'s success (at least I'd hope). At the end of the day, though, it's somewhat in poor taste to be like, "Hey Avengers, here's your consolation prize."
Awards shows gonna awards show.
Nothing is set in stone yet with the 91st Academy Awards ceremony and ABC still has a few weeks to hammer out what it wants to do. In addition, what may be good for ABC--e.g. cross-promoting Avengers: Endgame--may ultimately end up being tone deaf with how Academy voters vote, and that's not necessarily ABC's fault.
Still, there's not going to be a host and there's probably going to be a superhero push, so expect things to get a little weird.
We'll find out how superhero content fares when the Oscar nominations come out on January 22 and see how the final telecast pans out when the 91st Academy Awards air on Sunday, February 24, only on ABC. For now, you can see what else is headed to television with our midseason premiere schedule.