While Marvel films have dominated the box office and the majority of the American film conversation for a decade, their acceptance within the industry has long been one recognizing their savvy corporate strategy rather than their creativity or filmmaking. Blurring that distinction is the job of a producer, and, when the Producers Guild of America recognizes the MCU’s creator for his achievements, it’s a sign that being profitable through 20 films is only part of the equation — superhero films are the new paradigm for success in a broader sense.
According to Deadline, the PGA will bestow Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige its 2019 David O. Selznick Achievement Award for his body of work, namely overseeing the gigantic enterprise without running into hiccups like, say, the Dark Universe or the DCEU. Validating this explicitly shared and interwoven architecture — moreso than a cinematic body of work linked by nothing but a producer’s voice and insight — harkens to producers like Irwin Winkler or even Roger Corman, who were hailed for their visions and knack for running tight, profitable ships.
Feige has led Marvel since before Iron Man, assuming the helm of the studio back in 2007, and helped produce superhero movies since Blade. He knows publicity, he knows promotion, but he's also a hardcore subject matter expert who helped make fourth-stringers like the Guardians of the Galaxy into household names. Turning underutilized IP into box office bucks is just one of the ways his tenure has changed the cinematic marketplace.
Marvel Studios has also dramatically altered how projects are acquired and developed, mapping out an entire trajectory of linked movies rather than just developing standalones or trilogies. The ripple effect of the MCU’s innovation and success have influenced much of genre filmmaking, from horror to fantasy to sci-fi, and been felt everywhere — except perhaps the awards circuit.
And that might all change with Black Panther, especially with Feige's PGA award representing larger-scale industry respect. Black Panther not only made a boatload of cash, it was solid action filmmaking with strong characters, a unique visual style, and a savvy political message. Recognition for the MCU at large may have little effect for past, or even future, entries into the gargantuan machine, but for Black Panther, the timing and content may line up perfectly for praise at all levels — circumventing even the Oscars’ new and controversial Best Popular Film award.