Comics on Film: What the 'Black Panther' Golden Globe Nomination Could Mean for Comic Book Movies

Comics on Film: What the 'Black Panther' Golden Globe Nomination Could Mean for Comic Book Movies

Dec 17, 2018

Black Panther

You don't have to be a hardcore comic book fan to understand the fact that, almost universally, comic book movies just don’t get taken seriously as dramatic works of art. Even the most artistically-conscious and technically proficient movie, invested into by major studios and visionary directors, will be looked down upon by some cinematic observers because its source material comes from the medium of comics.

That's why the recent announcement of Black Panther as a nominee for Best Picture in the drama category at the forthcoming Golden Globe awards is so momentous.

It's been a decade since a comic book movie was thought of as a legitimately artistic entry into the long-running cinematic canon, when director Christopher Nolan brought together his world-class team of talented production personnel and performers to craft a movie that many consider to be among the best that comic book adaptations have ever produced, bar none, in The Dark Knight.

When Black Panther was released in February of this year, though, it broke the mold in a lot of different ways. Director Ryan Coogler shared a vision that was praised for its cultural inclusion and its cinematic beauty, telling a story that had something to say while also evoking some of the best examples of the characters' source material in a package that was an extreme sensation. It set a high watermark for the films of Marvel Studios, but more importantly, it represented a visible forward jump for how superhero movies can maintain fidelity to their sources, while also saying something.

All of those factors combining together into a movie like Black Panther legitimizes not just the work itself, but the genre it represents. Black Panther is the most important comic book movie since The Dark Knight, but it's quite possible that in the fullness of time, history will regard it even more importantly.

The Nomination: Will It Win?

Black Panther

The Golden Globes have shown love to superhero movies in the past, and relatively recently, just never in the way that they're honoring Black Panther's nomination. In the past, the awards group has nominated Deadpool for Best Picture in the musical or comedy category, as well as Heath Ledger for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight. That’s not to say the Globes haven't fallen in line with a lot of other awards shows in snubbing comic book movies that likely deserved recognition, though, including Wonder Woman and Logan (the latter of which actually received Academy Award recognition).

The big question on the minds of many people likely revolves around whether Black Panther will walk away with the award for which it's been nominated. While this writer certainly hopes it will, it is up against stiff competition in the forms of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman and Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born.

Black Panther breaking that barrier and earning a win that would crown it as the best dramatic picture of 2018 would make for a major moment for the movie and the genre, but as many comics fans will likely tell you, award shows have a unique track record of disappointment. That’s not to say Black Panther will walk away empty-handed, so to speak, but the rarity of its nomination in the category and the long track record of comic book movies that have to fight for every iota of artistic recognition they can get would indicate to this fan that it’s kind of a long-shot.

Still: damn the odds. Go for it, T'Challa.

What Does This Mean for the Future of Comic Book Movies?

Black Panther

Even if Black Panther doesn't win in its category, the truth is that it broke the barrier toward being nominated in a dramatic category for Best Picture. Now, does that mean Avengers: Endgame is a shoo-in to be the next such nomination?

No, of course not. Black Panther is a unique movie that captured the imaginations of people in ways not seen for a long time. You shouldn't necessarily expect that some genres will always be able to produce a Best Picture nominee at any awards show and that certainly shouldn’t be expected of a genre that just managed to break into that territory.

However, by that same token, the threshold that Black Panther just crossed means that an occurrence like this one is at least more likely to happen in the future for those examples of comic book adaptation that manage to transcend the typical trappings of the genre. Indeed, these kinds of nominations should just further emphasize among fans the truly special movies that happen to feature our favorite icons from comics.

It probably wouldn't be safe to bet this will happen again next year, or maybe even in the next five years. At least, however, we know it can happen again because it has happened now, finally. That's a hell of a gift for fans of comic book movies. Here's hoping the best examples of the genre will continue to be recognized when they reach the artistic threshold of movies such as The Dark Knight, Logan, and Black Panther.

Categories: Features, Geek
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