The Avengers saved the planet from an alien invasion and an artificial intelligence hellbent on human extinction. (They failed to save us from Thanos, but we don’t need to talk about that.) Their next assignment: saving the Academy Awards.
The Oscars (Feb. 24) were left without a host last month when comedian Kevin Hart stepped down from the gig following the widespread backlash to his history of making homophobic comments. (He has since apologized, though not without some major teeth-pulling.) The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has understandably struggled to find a replacement for what was a thankless job even before the Hart controversy and is now perhaps among the least-coveted roles in Hollywood history. It now appears that the Academy has given up on the idea of a host entirely.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Academy is instead scrambling to “reunite” cast members of Marvel’s Avengers movies as a rotating team of quasi-hosts to introduce segments and hold the telecast together. It’s unclear which Avengers specifically will take part in the show, but the Academy wants “appearances by as many big-name cast members” as possible, the Hollywood Reporter said.
In the 90-year history of the Oscars, the telecast has been held without a host only five times. The last time the Oscars lacked a host was 1989, when a throng of “star participants” ushered the ceremony, presenting clips and awards “like a relay race from star to star,” Allan Carr, the show’s producer, told the Chicago Tribune that year. That telecast was widely panned by critics and viewers alike.
But the Academy has to try something. The Avengers assemblage makes sense on several levels: The Oscars are broadcast on the Disney-owned network ABC, which means there’s some serious corporate synergy with the superhero stars, who are also employed by Disney via Marvel. These are some of the industry’s biggest stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, and other red carpet mainstays (though again, it’s far from clear which will agree to join this caper).
As hosts, the Avengers are also unlikely to drum up any further controversy (unless you consider failing humanity by letting an intergalactic tyrant wipe out half of known civilization to be controversial). And, who knows, maybe the stunt will help boost the telecast’s ratings, which have been in complete free-fall over the last five years. Probably not. But maybe.
Framing the evening as a “reunion” for the Marvel superheroes is far less believable, however. Avengers: Infinity War came out only last year. Avengers: Endgame comes out in April. Saying the Oscars will “reunite” the Avengers is like saying Maroon 5 is going on a reunion tour. They’re one of the most popular bands in the world, and they’re about to play the Super Bowl halftime show!
Whether the ratings improve or not, one thing the Academy can control completely is which films are in the running. The Oscars will be a lot easier to take seriously if the Academy nominates the films that reflect how wonderful 2018 was for cinema, instead of, you know, those other ones.