As themes go, Sunday night's "heroes" motif at the Oscars was fairly understated. Aside from a few too many uses of the Indiana Jones score, the theme was nicely reduced to smartly-edited montages and the appearance of Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. Yet while it was refreshing to see an awards show in which a theme wasn't shoved down viewers' throats, the lack of fanfare was also a bit of a letdown, considering that in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, there had been serious buildup about the show's celebration of heroes. According to producers, the theme was intended to highlight both real and fictional heroes, and would culminate in Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield inducting "a new superhero" into the pack. Yet at Sunday's ceremony, Garfield was a no-show, and the show's theme barely made a dent. So what happened?
No one really knows. Up until Sunday night, Garfield was expected to be present at the ceremony, and no one had any reason to think that the heroes tribute would occur any differently than planned. The change was only noted during the middle of the actual ceremony, when Captain America star Chris Evans took to the stage to introduce a montage of movie superheroes, presumably in Garfield's place. There was no explanation about the Spider-Man actor's sudden absence, nor a reason for why, and after the movie clips were shown, an induction of a new superhero never happened.
Apparently, the Oscars decided it was best to pretend that Garfield and his planned superhero segment was never even a possibility.
The problem with that, however, is that the introduction of a new superhero was supposed to be the culmination of the Oscars' heroes theme. As explained by producers, the show was going to honor real-life and film-made heroes all throughout the night, leading up to a "very moving moment" during which Garfield would induct a new hero into the collection. Said Oscar producer Neil Meron in February, Garfield's introduction was intended to "illustrate the themes of how movies have inspired," and viewers should plan to keep a few boxes of Kleenex nearby during this "special" moment.
Without that segment, though, the heroes tribute just seemed like a sweet background piece, rather than, as was intended, the night's central focus. While no audience members seemed distraught over Garfield's absence — it's likely many of them had no idea the superhero induction was even on the program — for those of us who'd looked forward to the theme's climatic moment, the lack of closure was disappointing, not to mention confusing. After so many weeks of buildup, to just completely ignore the most central part of the night's theme seemed ridiculous; something major must've happened behind-the-scenes, whether on Garfield's end or the producers', to change up the ceremony's schedule of events so drastically.
As of now, no statement has been made regarding the shake-up, and there's no guarantee that one will be issued any time soon. The show's producers may choose to just skip over Garfield's absence as if it was never on the line-up, even though it's bound to provoke more than a few questions from curious TV critics who'd looked forward to seeing what new kind of hero the Amazing actor was going to make us root for next.