“Genre Bias” Keeps MCU From Big Awards

Kevin Feige onstage at the 35th Annual American Cinematheque Awards on November 18, 2021 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo: Vivien Killilea (Getty Images)

Of awards season is around the corner, Hollywood heavyweights make the rounds as they promote their latest projects in hopes of taking home more than a few of the industry’s coveted statues of recognition. This week the nominees for the Golden Globes 2021 were announced, and WandaVisionElizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are both in the running, something Marvel head Kevin Feige is sure to please.

While the nominees for next year’s Oscars have yet to be announced, Feige is already making it clear that Marvel wants to take another trophy for one of its superhero films, a genre he believes the Academy still has a bias against. During a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter about Shang-Chi‘s production, Feige shared some thoughts on the challenges Marvel feels when it throws its hat in the ring for prizes.

“I think we’re always short because of the Marvel logo and because of a genre bias that definitely exists,” Feige said. “I just thought that was great for a shining moment there with Black Panther being put aside and the work being recognized for the achievement it was.” From Feige’s perspective, Shang-Chi was successful both as a film and as a larger project, designed to (re)introduce its central hero to a modern audience. That success, Feige said, is something he wants the rest of Hollywood to understand.

“[T]he works that [the team behind Shang-Chi] has created something new that appeals to the public,” Feige reasoned. “We recognized it, the public recognized it, and I would certainly appreciate the hard work of all these people telling their stories to be recognized.”

Feige is absolutely right about Shang-Chi and Black Panther they have a lot in common when viewed as two examples of a particularly large and successful film studio that eventually arrives at the idea that whole shades of color can and will lead their films to box office success. What is a bit dubious, however, is Feige’s apparent assumption that Black Panther and Shang-Chi are so similar that the path of the first nominated for Best Picture is something the latter is intended for.

While Black Panther’s representation of black people undoubtedly played a part in the film’s critical and financial success, it’s important to keep in mind just how much the premise and many of its concepts fell right within the Academy’s wheelhouse for movies where it focused attention. should spend on. Black Panther was a movie about a man running around dressed as a cat, of course. But it was also a movie that struggled with the kind of intricate, difficult questions that, while common in comic books, you don’t often see in their live-action adaptations. Stripped of all its action and adventure elements, Black Panther was a film that very emphatically asked: how a nation like Wakanda could live with itself as they watch as the horrors of anti-black racism become fundamental elements of the world beyond its borders.

What was impressive about Black Panther was its ability to tackle those ideas in a way that didn’t feel like their presence in the plot was just lip service. Because so few of these large tentpole features are built around characters of color, it can be difficult to pinpoint the differences between them that make some work where others don’t. It really wasn’t until this year The Falcon and the Winter Soldier that one could clearly see how Black Panther’s success didn’t mean Marvel had somehow “invented” how to tell stories about black people.

Feige is right that there is a certain amount of genre bias against cape movies and TV shows in particular, although this probably has a lot to do with the fact that there are only so many, and so few of them brave enough. felt to really form and get so weird that people realize it’s not all commercials for the next big thing.

Black Panther and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings are both currently streaming on Disney+.

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