Black Panther’s SAG Awards win marks double history

Black Panther won top honors at the SAG Awards. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

It is the midst of the 2019 awards season, which means awards shows and star-studded carpets are happening left and right. In the latest of mainstream entertainment’s objectively most glamorous season, the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) Awards took place yesterday in New York — and it was a varied event, to say the least. Although some widely-held expectations were met — such as wins for likes of Rami Malek and Glenn Close in the lead acting categories — the night also provided a handful of surprises as well, the most significant of which, perhaps, is the honorific win of Black Panther, which took home the night’s most prestigious awards: that of the Outstanding Performance by a Cast, as well as the Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture.

Before the celebrity-filled room — and the entire world watching at home — Black Panther himself Chadwick Boseman flanked by his co-stars addressed the momentous, milestone occasion, highlighting the significance of the film’s win as a victory for Hollywood representation.

We know what it’s like to be told there isn’t a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on. … We know what’s like to be beneath and not above. And that is what we went to work with every day.

Chadwick Boseman

Black Panther is, of course, a Marvel Cinematic Universe creation, and the first of its kind to feature a nearly all-black cast, for which the film was highly praised during its release, and now again honored and awarded nearly one year later. Its latest win comes at the peak of an already diversity-fueled awards season; indeed, if there is anything this particular season in entertainment will be remembered for, it would likely be for its seeming commitment and campaign towards further broadening racial and cultural diversity in Hollywood.

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And thus, Black Panther’s SAG win only elevates and cements this current trend, and perhaps sets it on the trail to a similar victory at the highly-anticipated Academy Awards — widely held as the crown jewel of awards shows of sorts — this coming February.

However, what marks Black Panther’s victory a uniquely landmark, history-making one beyond its frontlining of characters from minority backgrounds is its very existence as a superhero movie itself. That is, Black Panther also marks the first for an entry in the superhero movie genre to receive an award of such overall prestige — in the past, superhero movies were merely regulated to awards on editing, visual effects, or the occasional acting performance, such as that of the late Heath Ledger in 2008’s The Dark Knight.

More than anything, what with its history-making win, Black Panther has all but cemented its status in entertainment and pop culture canon, and it won’t be stopping anytime soon, from the looks of it. Whether or not the same will hold true at the forthcoming Oscars is yet to be seen, but whether or not it does, its very existence has proven a milestone accomplishment in itself in today’s cultural climate. Wakanda Forever, indeed.

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