[Article] ETERNALS - How Chloé Zhao & Kevin Feige Brought It To Life
Courtesy Marvel Studios
In Marvel Studios’ latest film, ETERNALS, we meet a group of heroes from beyond the stars who had protected the Earth since the dawn of men. When monstrous creatures called the Deviants, long thought lost to history, mysteriously return, the Eternals are forced to reunite in order to defend humanity once again.

ETERNALS features an outstanding cast featuring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Don Lee, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie who were all in attendance for the virtual press conference, along with producer Kevin Feige and director Chloé Zhao.

Since its World Premiere last month, it’s quickly become apparent that, for many reasons, ETERNALS is unlike any other film within the MCU. Having such a diverse cast allows viewers to see themselves as superheroes. Additionally, bringing on Oscar winner Chloé Zhao, who’s known for her naturalistic approach to filmmaking, seemed intentional and a unique turn for the franchise. When speaking on the subject, producer Kevin Feige stated:

“That was the whole idea. And Nate Moore, our producer, had that driving vision for what this could be. And when Chloé came in and pitched it to us and took these very general ideas that we had and, obviously, Jack Kirby’s spectacular source material, it felt like a very new special step for us.”

A film like ETERNALS could be viewed as a big risk for the mega-franchise. Even with it being a part of the MCU, they are characters that most aren’t familiar with unless they’ve read Jack Kirby’s comics. With that, many wondered why have a movie like ETERNALS come out at this time? Feige elaborated, stating:

“It’s a post-Infinity Saga world, we wanted to make a bold new step and say you don’t know everything about the universe yet and that there are these 10 spectacular heroes who you haven’t met who’ve been here the whole time.” 

Ajak (Salma Hayek) in Marvel Studios’ ETERNALS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Speaking on the ten new superheroes, Kristen Acuna from Insider stated how she loved seeing so many female superheroes introduced in this film, many of whom are gender-swapped from the comics. In talking about the decision to flip some of the characters, Zhao and Feige shared:

“When I came to the process at the beginning, I read a treatment that, I believe, Kevin made and the team at Marvel Studios put together and those decisions were made,” stated Zhao. “And it’s probably one of the reasons that really drew me to it. I thought it wasn’t just swapping a bunch of characters, it was very specifically chosen. Like, the leader of the team to be a mother figure, you know? Each of the decisions was made on purpose.”

“And as Nate was advocating for this project, you can’t do the history of humanity without the heroes looking like a cross-section of humanity,” explained Feige. “It was really what the goal was.” 

And when the time came for the Oscar-winning director to meet with Feige, she made sure to make it a memorable experience. But that meeting with her pitch and the vision she presented was what was needed for this film to come alive. Expanding on that, Zhao stated:

“It started with me showing him a macro photo of sand and then quoting a poem from William Blake [Laughs]. But in that poem, Blake was trying to convey that you can see the endless beauty and the meanings of the cosmos within the smallest things you can find on earth. The vision of the film was set up to capture that scale. Something as large as the creation of the sun and as intimate as whispers of lovers. Going on location and doing this kind of immersive shoot and having the supporting understanding of this amazing cast was how we got here today.”

Even though ETERNALS is divisive, especially due to how uniquely different it is from the rest of the franchise, one thing is for sure – this film has already gained a devoted following of fans. ETERNALS is now open exclusively in theaters. For more on the film, check out our review here.

(L-R): Ikaris (Richard Madden) and Sersi (Gemma Chan) in Marvel Studios’ ETERNALS. Photo by Sophie Mutevelian.
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