'Avengers: Endgame' Lost Its Academy Award But Still Holds an Unfortunate Oscar Record

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.

In 2020, a blockbuster comic book movie did receive high-profile Oscar wins. It just wasn’t one from Marvel Studios. While Joker walked away with 11 nominations and two wins, Avengers: Endgame couldn’t even take home the one award it was up for. Perhaps this isn’t much of a silver lining, but at least this loss now gives the Marvel juggernaut a dubious honor.

‘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. Now, making the loss perhaps a bit harder, the Marvel Studios game-changer holds the last record anyone would think to place on it.

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes met their match

The 2020 Oscars mark the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony. Over nearly a century, according to MovieWeb, only 10 movies have ever held the title of all-time highest-grossing movie. Now, thanks to the aforementioned box office take, Avengers: Endgame sits atop that list. Marvel Studios has bragging rights until the next epic blockbuster dethrones it. But this distinction also makes Avengers: Endgame the only movie to ever hold that record without a single Academy Award win.

From Gone with the Wind to Avatar, every other movie which — at one point in time or another — could claim the highest-grossing title has received some Oscar love. But Avengers: Endgame fell short. It’s unclear why the academy deemed the beloved Marvel Studios film unworthy. For now, we’ll blame it on 1917’s mini-sweep of the technical categories.

Marvel Phase 4 will reset the franchise

Of course, there’s always the chance Marvel Studios itself could liberate Avengers: Endgame of this sad distinction. But we wouldn’t hold our breath for that to happen anytime soon. Even though Marvel is ramping up its annual output, the studio won’t get to another story as anticipated or grand in scope as Avengers: Endgame for a long while.

The Russos’ film was the culmination of everything that had come before it in the MCU. In that regard, it’s the rare cinematic experience that only comes around a few times in a generation. So, rather than trying to top the untoppable, Marvel is wisely scaling back in Phase 4.

Films like Black Widow, The Eternals, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings expand the MCU in exciting and new ways. Even though fans might have a bit of a wait before the next universe-ending threat, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige surely has a trick or two up his sleeve. Be ready to assemble, academy.

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