It turns out Avengers: Endgame actually can’t have it all.
When Black Panther won three Oscars and received a Best Picture nomination in 2019, many industry insiders believed it could be a sign of change. Maybe the Academy Awards had finally realized comic book movies could transcend pure popcorn entertainment to become awards-worthy art. As it turns out, this wasn’t entirely inaccurate.
While Joker walked away with 11 nominations and two wins, Avengers: Endgame couldn’t even take home the one award it was up for. As a result of this loss, the Marvel juggernaut now holds a dubious honor. It’s the only movie to ever be the all-time highest grosser without a single Oscar win. So what went wrong? Disney might have no one to blame but itself.
‘Avengers: Endgame’ was an epic cinematic event
By any other metric, Avengers: Endgame was the cinematic event of the year. The film’s unreal box office performance — $858 million domestically and $2.8 billion worldwide — shattered tons of records. Fans, meanwhile, praised how directors Joe and Anthony Russo delivered a satisfying conclusion to the first 11 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Although critics typically view the MCU favorably, they were extra ecstatic about Avengers: Endgame. The film’s three-hour runtime didn’t slow it down by any stretch. If anything, the extended runtime gave the Russos time to pay effective tribute to the original line-up of Avengers. After all, Avengers: Endgame will likely be the last time some of these characters will appear.
Even though Disney campaigned hard for it, the Academy Awards largely looked past the love for Avengers: Endgame. The film received a sole nomination for Best Visual Effects, which it ultimately lost to World War I drama 1917. But for all those fans who got chills during that iconic “Portals” scene, how did the biggest movie of all time lose its shot at Oscar glory?
How Disney undermined its own Oscar chances
Chalk up Marvel’s loss due to an embarrassment of riches over at Disney. The studio continues to dominate the box office, and with so many brands to serve, there’s bound to be some overlap. At the 2020 Oscars, for instance, Disney secured three of the five nominees for Best Visual Effects: Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The other two nominees? The Irishman’s age-defying digital makeup and the winner, 1917.
With the majority of the nominated films, Disney very easily could have pushed itself out of the running. The risk of splitting votes is a legitimate concern among Oscar campaigners. So, in this case, three mega-budget blockbusters were outdone by the relatively small war movie. And if you think we’re off-base, consider that a similar thing happened in 2018. Despite visual effects nods for three Disney films — Avengers: Infinity War, Christopher Robin, and Solo: A Star Wars Story — First Man took home its only Oscar.
If Disney hopes to get Marvel Studios some more love going forward, this is something the studio should keep in mind. The MCU is the most successful movie franchise of all time. And it has released just a single Oscar-winning film across its 23 releases. That can’t sit too well with competitive-minded Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige. With more careful planning, perhaps the future could shine brighter in that regard.
Marvel Studios will have another shot at Oscar gold
Of course, for all its climactic moments, Avengers: Endgame is far from the end of the MCU. Films like Black Widow, The Eternals, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings are set to expand the MCU in exciting and new ways in Phase 4. So, even though it may take some time for an adventure as grand, Marvel Studios will have lots of opportunities to take another Oscar home.
After all, Avengers: Endgame was the studio’s 10th nomination in Best Visual Effects alone. And now that the multiverse is joining the mix, there’s even a greater likelihood of stunning, imaginative visuals. Marvel is ramping up its annual output too. If Disney can coordinate its efforts a little better during awards season, Marvel might be able to bounce right back into the Oscar game. Be ready to assemble, academy.