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Black Panther made Oscar history on Tuesday when it became the first movie about a superhero to be nominated for Best Picture. This was a major moment for a genre of film that has only become more popular in recent years. Both fans and critics have hailed many of the recent superhero films as being great movies in their own right, but few of them have been nominated for any significant awards. Patty Jenkins, director of the very well received Wonder Woman, and its upcoming sequel, is one of those who seems to feel this honor probably should have come sooner. According to Jenkins...
I never understood why any type of movie is more likely than another [to be nominated]. This art form has so many people doing great work in all different genres. I think it’s great that a superhero film was finally nominated, and I’m particularly happy that it was Black Panther.
Patty Jenkins doesn't get why there are certain types of movies which seem less likely to be nominated for Oscars or other awards than others. In the end, film making is an art form and everybody involved in it is still making art, just like everybody else. The idea that one finished product is more worthy of recognition than another simply because of the subject matter, doesn't make any sense.
It's certainly not only superhero movies that tend to get overlooked when it comes to awards. Genre films in general, anything that qualifies as science fiction or fantasy, are frequently not given much due. There have always been exceptions. The final Lord of the Rings movie won Best Picture, after all and James Cameron's Avatar was nominated for the prize, but frequently they seem to get skipped over.
The entire comedy genre also rarely gets love from the Academy. It seems that if the movie is supposed to make you laugh nobody can take it seriously as an awards contender.
There had been cracks in the superhero ceiling before this. Heath Ledger received the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for The Dark Knight and Logan received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay at last year's awards. Even Black Panther, while it was nominated for the biggest award, was otherwise relegated to nominations in technical categories where genre films often languish. Black Panther is apparently one of the eight best movies of the year, but it became so without (allegedly) having any of the best acting performances, the best screenplay or one of the best directors of the year.
It's certainly difficult to compare different genres and try to judge which is a better movie, but simply because a given film happens to be serious and dramatic shouldn't mean that it is automatically a better film and worthy of awards when others are not. Black Panther may have been a Marvel superhero movie, but it was also about issues just as serious as those dramatic films. This may be why Patty Jenkins tells Yahoo that she's particularly happy Black Panther was the film to break this barrier.