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Will the Academy honor the epic feat of "Avengers: Endgame"?

by Abe Fried-Tanzer

Back in July, Avengers: Endgame surpassed Avatar for the title of the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide. You’d think that would mean that nearly everyone who goes to the movies has seen it. At a guild screening in Los Angeles earlier this week, however, nearly half the audience put their hands up when asked if they were seeing this three-hour blockbuster for the first time. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who were on hand for a Q & A, were surprised and almost delighted by this showing...

It’s reasonable to expect that Avengers: Endgame would end up at the top of a few Oscar voters’ ballots, but is it really likely that it will make the cut? Black Panther was nominated for Best Picture just last year, but it managed appeal outside of the superhero spectrum. Perhaps crucially, it could also function on its own without the entire mythology of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Aside from visual effects citations, Logan is the only other comic book movie in recent memory to manage a major breakthrough with a bid for its screenplay. Before that, The Dark Knight did well across the board, but not well enough to score a top nod. If the highly-anticipated and well-received Star Wars: The Force Awakens couldn’t crack the Best Picture field, can this twenty-second entry in a series pull it off?

Markus and McFeely shared a number of entertaining stories about the writing process. They were hired for Infinity War and Endgame back in April 2015, between Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, both of which they also wrote. To plot out the story for both epic films simultaneously, they had three walls: one for the first movie, one for the second, and one to manage the “baseball cards” of every Marvel character, which they humorously annotated with dollar signs based on how much they guessed that each actor would get paid. Decisions about Disney+ streaming series featuring characters from the films were apparently made after the stories were created for Endgame rather than the other way around, allowing Markus and McFeely a good amount of artistic leeway with occasional input from heavy hitters like Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. 

Markus and McFeely conveyed their excitement at being able to embed emotional content in a time travel plot, determined to revisit key scenes from the franchise in a way that was more than just a clip show and instead properly wrapped arcs of characters introduced multiple films ago. hearing that people continue to deliberate over how the timeline actually works and whether it makes sense shows them that audiences are still thinking about this film and its universe in a positive and intrigued way. 

Whether the historic production and complex writing feat of Endgame will be enough to compel Oscar voters to consider the ultimate superhero movie remains a mystery. But, as seen through this lens, this big moneymaker might just be able to pull it off, even if its odds are similar to those faced by its characters at the start of the film.  


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Reader Comments (26)

They didn't reward Harry Potter. I don't think they're going to reward Marvel. Maybe it will slip through with a stray Best Picture nod in the expanded field rules, but it won't rack up categories like Director, Screenplay, actors.....

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDan H

Let's hope not.

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

The thing that Black Panther, Logan, and The Dark Knight (and, presumably, Joker) had going for them is that they transcended the genre and had artistic merit on their own. Does Engame? Honestly, do any of the post-Avengers, non-Black Panther Marvel movies?

It's not so much the scale but rather the ambitions of Avatar that struck a cord with Oscar voters. I can't imagine that Endgame registers on that level, which isn't that what you need, even for a cumulative effect-style property like this? (Full disclosure: I avoided Endgame/Infinity War.)

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

I suspect that Avengers: Endgame is favored to get a Producers Guild nomination but a longshot for the equivalent Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Which shows the clear modern divide between what Hollywood wants out of a best production and what it wants out of a best picture.

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBrevity

Black Panther had the Diversity Card. Being called White Panther would make it an average comic book adaptation movie. Avengers Best Picture? It'll be lucky if it get FX field nomination.

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHooper

It's a big deal when a movie becomes the new top worldwide grosser. Endgame beat the record held for 10 years by Avatar. Avatar beat the record held for 12 years by Titanic. Those movies were honored with Best Picture nods. So were Gone with the Wind, Doctor Zhivago, The Sound of Music, The Exorcist, Star Wars, and ET. (I don't know how many of those actually took the title of all-time highest gross, just that they were all big hits) Colossal hits get Best Picture nominations. The only exceptions I can think of are Jurassic Park (which was the top world grosser for about 3 years before Titanic took the mantle) and The Force Awakens, which is still the top domestic grosser.

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered Commentershawshank

No, not gonna happen.

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Wyler

But... Avengers Endgame is way more than just a superhero movie.

There is a good video essay on why AE deserves to be taken seriously...

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJesus

Thought that ABC was so desperate for the ‘popcorn audience’ to watch their declining 4 hour telecast that they were going to create a ‘Best Achievement in Being a Popular Movie’ Oscar category?!? Seemed that there was pre-ordained headaches if comic book movie ‘Black Panther’ didn’t make the BP cut or didn’t receive one award. Don’t think that they’d be a lot of whining if Avengers: End Game walked away empty (well, maybe from ABC who’d classify that movie as ‘Oscar telecast rating bait.’

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

I love ENDGAME, but I believe the Academy won't go for it in Best Adapted Screenplay nor Best Director nor Best Actor (in spite of the online "campaign" for RDJ) - it is a very good movie but this kind of "prestige" Oscar material. And I hope it doesn't get nominated in the categories I mentioned above: it's so much more important to nominate movies like JOJO RABBIT, WAVES, MARRIAGE STORY, THE FAREWELL, PARASITE or A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD so auteurs keep getting this kind of projects made than recognizing an extravaganza production like ENDGAME.
Best Visual Effects (win), Best Makeup & Hair, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing noms and being in the run for Best Picture and Best Original Score are enough recognition for this kind of acclaimed box-office titan

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEd

I think it will get a couple more nominations than Infinity War received - probably Sound, maybe makeup/hair, but nothing more. Avatar had one other thing going for it that A:E doesn't, it was breaking records during awards season, not several months prior. It won't be the shiny new toy in December/January.

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I hope Chris Hemsworth gets nominated for fat Thor- which was to me was the highlight of the movie

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

It fucking better get some serious Oscar nods. Not just for Best Picture but also Best Director, Best Actor to Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth, Best Supporting Actress to Scarlett Johansson & Karen Gillan, Best Supporting Actor to Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, and Don Cheadle, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing, Best Score, Best Sound Editing, and Best Production Design.

It's a film that I believe was much better than it should've been. It was more than just a blockbuster film but something bigger and more that the likes of John Ford, Akira Kurosawa, David Lean, and Sergio Leone would've appreciated.

If the Academy doesn't reward these films then fuck 'em.

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

markgordonuk: You do that. Spend your negative energy doing that. Many of the rest of us are either rooting for it to get the Oscar attention it deserves (I'm one of those) or at least completely fine with that happening.

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRon

I also hope not. I also think not.

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Hopefully not

Nothing about Avengers: Endgame transcends its genre. In fact, Avengers: Endgame is that particular genre on steroids. Reflectively speaking, did I see anything new? Was I surprised by something? Nope. It's amazing how much I don't care about the movie. And how it ages in my mind as nothing more than a string of well-designed platitudes whose contrivances become more and more transparent as the months go by.

LOTR managed to transcend its genre - Best Pic nods + Best Pic win

Harry Potter didn't - no Best Pic nods

The Academy got it right with these two. Sometimes they get things right. And when it happens, it's a wonderful feeling.

October 3, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

"Avengers: Endgame" is a bad movie. We don't need the Marvel fans in this site to tell us otherwise.
Did the user shawshank just mention it in the same breath as "Gone With The Wind" and "The Sound of Music" ? Beyond ridiculous.

October 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKl

Thevoid99 went full Volvagia. You never go full Volvagia.

October 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJay Kaye

Disney is going to sell it to voters as the cinematic event of the year or something like that... But I have a feeling the only movie under the Disney giant wing to get above the line noms will be JOJO RABBIT, which some reports say Disney men had a few concerns about how unDisney the movie is. Karma doing her work

October 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEd

I'm not saying it's not a skill, but the skill involved in making the Avengers films is in creating the best version possible whilst jumping through numerous corporate hoops and studio notes. It's not a creative vision in the same way that Logan or Black Panther are, at the very least, perceived to be.

Also, if Julianne Moore's performance in Gloria Bell arrived too goddamn early but everyone has a long memory when it comes to The Avengers then I'll be very unhappy.

October 4, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterben1283

I read thevoid99's comment as parody. Was I wrong?

October 4, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

If Black Panther had not been Black Panther, the Academy would have never rewarded it with so many nominations. Let alone wins. As a film in the MCU, it's quite fantastic, but outside of it, I'm hard-pressed to find anyone who actually believes it's anything but another cog in a superhero machine.

Does it have more of its own flavor and attitude? Absolutely. But so did Ragnarok and even Guardians Vol. 2.... It's exhausting reading that it's changed cinema or that it's somehow any different from the rest of the MCU aside from the obvious: an all-black cast save for Bilbo Baggins and Gollum.

Logan and The Dark Knight were genuinely different takes and had their own stamps on the comic-book genre. Logan, especially, more than earned that Screenplay nom.

October 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterManny

@Manny, I think I agree with what you're saying

I never cared to re-watch Black Panther, although I really enjoyed the movie.

Thor: Ragnarok, really does have more memorable scenes and quirky moments which somehow help it stand out better.

October 4, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

What the hell is Volvogia?

@beyaccount-I was being serious. I've seen a good number of films to know what is going on. Plus, I have a much bigger grasp on cinema's history and to overlook the many attributes of the MCU!!! is just snobbish.

October 4, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

The thing that really pushes it over into satire, thevoid99, is that you said you would be angry if it didn't get EIGHT of it's actors nominated (out of fifteen possible slots). That would make it more of an "actors movie" than The Godfather or well, any movie ever made. Not going to happen. Marvel will be lucky to get a Best Picture nod and, maybe five of these six: Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing, Best Score, Best Sound Editing, and Best Production Design. Director, screenplay, and the actors are NOT going to happen.

October 5, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDaniella Isaacs

Marvel has a few top tier films but Endgame wasnt one of them. I loved it after the first watch, but after the second I found it had very little to say. After Infinity War managed to have powerful themes, Endgame couldnt top them off properly. Because still, ultimately the general populace does not want to deal with difficult complex questions. So yeah Endgame was nice but I wouldn't be surprised if it gets only one nom for Visual FX and STILL doesnt win.

October 6, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterkris01

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