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For the first decade of its existence, the Marvel Cinematic Universe made itself king both at the box office and in the hearts of the moviegoing public, but it went home empty handed every time on Oscar night. Then, a year ago, Ryan Coogler's Black Panther hit theaters, and Marvel knew it had something special on its hands - something that could win it an honor box office success can't buy. That instinct proved true because Marvel is having a great night at the Oscars.
At the 91st Academy Awards, Black Panther picked up its first Oscar. Then it went ahead and picked up its second and third. Black Panther won its, and Marvel's, first Oscar for Best Costume Design, for Ruth E. Carter's work bringing Wakanda to life through the clothes of its people. Then the film followed that up with another Oscar, this one for Best Production Design for Hannah Beachler and Jay Hart, followed by one for Ludwig Göransson for Best Original Score.
So after a decade without the highest recognition in the industry, Marvel now has three Oscars under its belt.
Marvel was ready for this night and so were the recipients of the Oscars. Ruth E. Carter, who had previously been nominated for her costume design on Malcolm X and Amistad proved that the third time was the charm and she delivered with a great speech that thanked everyone, was entertaining and well-prepared and even incorporated a fun reference to the film itself talking about how expensive it is to add vibranium to costumes.
While Ruth E. Carter’s speech was fun, Hannah Bleacher, who did the production design for the film alongside set decorator Jay Hart, delivered a heartfelt and incredibly emotional and inspiring speech about being stronger. She gave a ton of credit to Ryan Coogler, who though he was not nominated for Best Director, his presence has been felt throughout Black Panther’s wins. Ludwig Göransson kept his speech short and sweet for his first Oscar win, helping with this brisk, frill-less ceremony.
The wins really highlight the achievement of Marvel’s film in creating a country and a culture. The Costume and Production Design awards honor how well the team of Black Panther brought the wonderful world of Wakanda to life to feel like a tangible place with its own history and culture. They created a technological utopia that is both futuristic and deeply African. And the score gave that world an audible texture and beauty.
For those of you keeping score at home, Marvel has now matched and surpassed the Oscar precedent set by rival DCEU’s Suicide Squad. This is a huge milestone for Marvel and although it may be overdue, is still just as sweet. It was also very cool hearing Kevin Feige get thanked on the stage at the Dolby Theatre. He is the architect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, perhaps the grandest and most successful experiment in cinematic history.
Marvel knew it had something on its hands with Black Panther and it put together an Oscar campaign to champion the film and that has proven a worthwhile endeavor. It wasn't a clean sweep for Black Panther though as it lost out on Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing to Bohemian Rhapsody and Best Original Song to A Star is Born's "Shallow." It also couldn't do the impossible and win Best Picture, with that award going to Green Book.
Black Panther wasn’t the only Marvel movie with a nomination tonight. Avengers: Infinity War was nominated for Best Visual Effects but, in what is sure to be lamented by Thanos fans out there, it lost out to First Man. So it’s been a good night for Marvel at the Oscars but for unknown reasons the special effects-driven MCU still remains statueless on the VFX front.
Despite that snub, Marvel should feel nothing but proud for how this Oscar night turned out. Marvel won three out of eight awards its films were nominated for, with Black Panther snagging three statues for Marvel. It was about a decade ago, when the MCU was in its infancy, that Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight was famously snubbed a Best Picture nomination. Now this year we had a superhero film nominated for Best Picture and multiple other awards, going home with three of them. That's progress.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all your Oscars coverage and check out our 2019 Release Schedule for all the movies that will by vying for a spot at next year's Academy Awards.