The Academy, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Oscars: the story of an unborn love

The Academy, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Oscars: the story of an unborn love

The Academy, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Oscars

It is no news that the spark has never struck between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Academy. In the more than ten years of life of the cinematic dimension of Marvel's heroes, on very few occasions honors have been paid in the form of a statuette to the work of Feige and his associates, marking a rift not only between the Disney franchise and the Hollywood establishment, but also making the Marvel Cinematic Universe the lightning rod of a ruthless aversion from a hard core of the industry towards the contemporary superheroic vein. For practicality, in fact, one is led to say that the Academy cordially hates the Marvel Cinematic Universe, considering how in the last decade Iron Man and his associates have been the incarnations par excellence of cinecomics, but the roots of this aversion are wider than how many can you imagine.

Of course, in a time when Marvel films were blockbusters acclaimed by fans and critics alike, it was inevitable that, in the eyes of the Academy, they would become the perfect scapegoats for a myopic vision of cinema. Directors known for having brought about great revolutions in cinematic language such as Martin Scorsese have made no secret of having a certain aversion to this cinematographic vein, while new generations of filmmakers and actors have indulged in very unflattering comments on films dedicated to superguys. Comments that were often interpreted as signs of ill-concealed envy, a retaliation from a supposed group of great artists who failed to consider these films as emotionally satisfying works on a par with giants like The Irishman or Dune.

The Academy and the missed Oscars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Does Hollywood hate cinecomics?

Aversion that failing to win over the hearts of the public, the true engine of the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he found a sort of outlet covered with authoritative wisdom in opposing cinecomics at the Oscars. One could argue that Black Panther won the Academy Award for Best Picture and that the Marvel Cinematic Universe also won a costume design statuette for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever this year, a sort of benevolent show of openness from the Academy. against cinecomics. Will it really be a sign of d├ętente or maybe there is a more subtle reasoning behind it?


At the time of the victory of the first chapter of Marvel's Black Panther adventures, quite a few voices had seen in the Oscar not so much a recognition for the titanic work of Marvel Studios, as a sort of exaltation of a story that honored the character's African roots, identifying them as a sign of appreciation of African-American culture. An award tinged with hypocritical moralism (although recognizing the beauty of the film directed by Ryan Coogler), above all considering how hardly credible it is that a director born and raised in the States could conceive a coherent and concrete vision of an African population, however technologically advanced and modern. In creating a synergistic identification between Coogler's point of view and what is assumed to be a story about Africa, absurdly a short circuit is created in which the very sense of cultural recognition that led to the awarding of the film is canceled.

--> And to add to this sense of estrangement, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever won the Oscar for costume design this year, beating much more solid competition, such as Babylon. Above all, in a period in which the quality of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has marked a dangerous decline, especially in Phase Four of which Wakanda Forever was the finale, with narrative weaknesses and even more worrying qualitative drops in the technical sector. Again, therefore, a choice that seems to indicate not so much an achievement merit, but a desire to reward a new opening to another minority, the Latin American one, embodied by Namor and his underwater kingdom.

Before indignant voices are raised, let me say that I was one of Angela Bassett's most vocal supporters as an Academy Award winner for Supporting Actress, considering her lavish performance as Queen Ramonda, culminating in a royal speech but suffered pain right in Wakanda Forever . But granting a film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe such an honor would have been too much, especially if you could grant this tribute to a film that represents a parody of everything that is hated by the Academy in cinecomics: Everything Everywhere All at Once .

--> Funny and fascinating film, endowed with a strong personality and an undeniable poetry, but which has made a massacre of awards and recognitions that still today, for me, remain a mystery. The feeling is that the Academy has seen in this lysergic adventure a sublimation of anti-cinecomics, an ironic and irreverent rewriting of the rules of superhero films, partially ridiculing the very concept of super, exalting the humanity of the characters. It is a pity that this discourse goes against the vision of 'superheroes with superproblems' typical of the Silver Age of superhero comics, but it seems clear that overseas a certain artistic resistance is still inclined to see superhero films as the embodiment of that derogatory 'comic book' with to which critics once called films deemed unworthy.

Not only the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the sights

Be careful, however, not to turn the Marvel Cinematic Universe into a martyr for the Academy, because the films of the Distinta Compete certainly do not fare better. One could delude oneself that the Oscar for best actor to Joaquin Phoenix for Joker (let's face it, well-deserved!) is a demonstration of greater consideration for the dark DC Comics heroes, but Todd Phillips' film was not only a film stylistically far from the canons of cinecomics, but went as far as paying homage in a more than evident way to the suggestions of New Hollywood, not least Scorsese's King of The Comedy. Irony of fate, or perhaps simple intentional mockery, the least cinecomics cinecomics seen so far, a derivative of the artistic vision of the greatest detractor of this trend, takes home one of the most prestigious statuettes. More than such a revenge, it seems like a further, scathing accusation from the Academy: only by making 'our' cinema, you are worthy of recognition.

Explaining how it is possible that a film with a high authorial profile like The Batman hasn't seen an interpretation as powerful as that of Paul Dano worthy of competing for the title of best actor is not hero. For example, the first chapter of the Dark Knight by Matt Reeves would have deserved the nomination for best photography, but on the contrary it was preferred to give a sop by inserting the film in predestined categories, such as special effects (assigned by the office to Avatar: The Way of 'Water ) or for Best Makeup (could it really not be awarded to The Whale ?). Again, one wonders how much these nominations are the result of sincere admiration for the title, and how much a necessary act to avoid the accusations of not considering cinecomics properly.

To say that the Academy hates the Marvel Cinematics Universe is unfair. To say that the Academy hates cinecomics is perhaps more correct. The future of the genre, now that DC also seems to want to give its film version a more organized structure, could undergo a shock, especially now that the public of enthusiasts is starting to show a desire for different and more refined contents, perceiving a certain tiredness in the genre, thanks to a waning quality especially in the driving franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The complex relationship between cinecomics and the Academy could see in these new stimuli a different interpretation, leading, hopefully, to a different perception by the Hollywood establishment of a genre that has nonetheless shown that it can offer great chapters in the history of the cinema.

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