Fans had plenty to celebrate at Sunday's 91st Academy Awards ceremony, with a win by Sony's Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for Best Animated Feature, and three victories by Marvel's Black Panther, for Best Costume Design, Best Production Design and Best Original Score. Although director Ryan Coogler's blockbuster didn't go home with a trophy for Best Picture, which would have been a first for a superhero film, it did achieve another milestone: the Marvel Cinematic Universe's first Oscar.
That's right, despite releasing 20 films over the course of a decade, creating the most commercially successful franchise in cinema history, Marvel Studios had never won an Academy Award until Sunday.
Previous films had been nominated, in technical categories, like Best Visual Effects (all three Iron Man installments, The Avengers, Doctor Strange, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and 2), Best Sound Editing (Iron Man, again), and Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Guardians of the Galaxy). But none had actually won, until Black Panther.
Perhaps just is surprising, given the critical, commercial and industry-changing success of the MCU, the studio was actually beaten in the race for Oscar gold by Warner Bros.' so-called DC Extended Universe: Director David Ayer's Suicide Squad won an Academy Award in 2017 for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. But now, with Black Panther's multiple Oscars, the MCU takes the lead.
Fans have long believed that Marvel, for all its success, deserved a win at the Academy Awards, and the argument could be made that some MCU entries were robbed of Best Visual Effects trophies. But now, there is no more debating, no more wishful thinking: Marvel Studios finally has the recognition so many fans thought it deserved. What's surprising is that it took a decade for that to happen.
Black Panther is an undeniable achievement in itself, on multiple levels, and the staggering $1.34 billion box office and Best Picture nomination only added to that. But now, with its three Oscars, the movie has become something else entirely.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr., Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Benedict Wong, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland and Anthony Mackie. The film arrives on April 26.