The Marvel Cinematic Universe is nobody's idea of an underdog, with its 20 blockbuster films having made a combined $6.8 billion at the box office (and that's just in the U.S. alone). But before the 2019 Oscars, Marvel Studios had never won an Academy Award, manifesting the unspoken-but-established idea that superhero flicks don't hold a place among end-of-year cinematic prestige. (The film did, however, earn four wins at the 2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards, including the top honor, Best Movie.)
Ryan Coogler's game-changing, billion-dollar blockbuster — which had racked up seven total nominations, including Best Picture — claimed its first award early in the telecast, for Best Costume Design. Along with making history for Marvel, designer Ruth Carter became the first Black woman to ever win in the category. In her speech, Carter said, "Marvel may have created the first black superhero, but through costume design, we turned him into an African king." She also quipped, "Adding vibranium to costumes is very expensive!"
Immediately after that, Black Panther won the Oscar for Best Production Design, thanks to production designer Hannah Beachler and set decorator Jay Hart, who built and created the vibrant nation of Wakanda. Notably, Beachler became the first Black artist to ever win the award, and she was the first Black artist nominated in the category's 90-year existence.
The movie's third and final win came in the Best Score category, when composer Ludwig Göransson — who just recently reflected on his "surreal" nomination with MTV News — accepted the award. With that victory, Black Panther officially became the winningest superhero movie in Academy Awards history, surpassing The Incredibles and The Dark Knight, which each won two Oscars.
These groundbreaking wins only further cement Black Panther's place in history, both within Marvel Studios and throughout all of Hollywood. It also just makes the bar that much higher for Coogler and Co. for Black Panther 2... but for now, they can celebrate the fact that the Academy has weighed in and firmly decided, "Wakanda forever!"