Can ‘Black Panther’ do what ‘The Dark Knight’ couldn’t at the Oscars?

Many a Batman fan in 2008 was rooting for “The Dark Knight,” Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed second round with the Caped Crusader and the year’s top-grossing movie, to secure a berth in the best-picture race at that year’s Oscars. They weren’t the only ones. The previous year’s edition of Hollywood’s glitziest night drew only 32.9 million viewers – an all-time low.  Alas, it was not to be.

The Academy, however, did alter the rules the following year to increase the probability that a well-regarded blockbuster had a chance to make the cut by expanding the Best Picture category to 10 titles – later amended to between five and 10 films. As a result, there has been a boost for sci-fi and action competitors. But since 2002, when the original “Spider-Man” kicked off the ongoing run of Marvel superhero franchises, no comic-book adventure has made the cut.

SEE What do Oscar changes mean for 2019 Academy Awards Best Picture race?

That could change with “Black Panther.” It currently is the year’s domestic box-office champ with $700 million-plus, a status that hasn’t stopped the likes of “Forrest Gump,” “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” and “Titanic” from getting in, let alone eventually claiming the gold. What sets this origin story apart from is its current-day social relevancy in its depiction of Wakanda, a never-colonized, high-tech utopia that disguises itself as an impoverished African nation.

While its humble new leader T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman as a Martin Luther King, Jr. type) wishes to protect his land’s miraculous national resource vibranium, his revolutionary  rival Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), a Malcolm X-like counterpart who was raised amid the racial unrest of Oakland, Calif., calls for black supremacy.

However the Academy just announced a new twist that could hurt its chances. Taking its cues from high-school yearbooks, the Academy just announced on Tuesday that there will be a new category devoted to Best Popular Films. This popularity contest could lessen the possibility that a superior blockbuster like “Black Panther” will grab a perch among the best-pic candidates.

What do you think? Cast your vote in our poll below and sound off in the comments section.

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