Marvel Studios’ “Eternals” brings forth a new kind of superhero epic by introducing dynamic immortal cosmic alien beings who have protected humanity from the deviants for the past 7,000 years. Directed by Chloé Zhao, the groundbreaking film is the first to be helmed by a woman of color and celebrates the diversity that we see in the world that we live in today.
ThatsItLA joined their fellow journalists for the “Eternals” virtual press conference, where we got to talk to Chloé Zhao and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige about
“Eternals” is one of those films where those in marginalized communities get to see themselves be the heroes of these blockbuster films. “That was the whole idea,” Feige said. “And Nate Moore, our producer, really had that driving vision for what this could be. So when Chloe came in and, and pitched it to us, took these very general ideas that we had, and obviously the Jack Kirby spectacular source material, it felt like a very new special step for us.”
Given that “Eternals” introduces a new ensemble of superheroes that very few people have heard of, it is understandable how some would see this as a risk for Marvel Studios. But what inspired everyone to give the cosmic immortal aliens their chance to tell their story on the cinematic level was that they could make it a global affair and visualize Jack Kirby’s work on the big screen. “It was in a post-Infinity Saga world that we wanted to make a bold new step and say you don’t know everything about the universe yet,” Feige said. “There are these ten spectacular heroes who you haven’t met, who’ve been here the whole time.”
But Chloé Zhao didn’t land the job immediately and had to make a few pitches to get the gig. “It started with me showing him a macro photo of sand. And then quoting a poem from William Blake,” she said. “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.”
Of course, Zhao is no stranger to capturing human emotions from natural and cosmic settings. And because “Eternals” is a Marvel Studios film, she would be able to do that on a grand and small scale that would range from “something as large as the creation of the sun” to “something as intimate as the whispers of lovers.”
But what drew Zhao to the script was seeing how many of the film’s characters were gender-swapped from the comics. And these weren’t contrived decisions, but one that would have a more significant meaning to those who would feel represented. “When I came to the process in the beginning, I read a treatment that I believe Kevin made, and the team at Marvel Studios put together. Those decisions were made,” she said. “It was probably one of the reasons I really drew me to it. I thought it wasn’t just, you know, let’s swap a bunch of characters. It was very specifically chosen by the leader of the team to be a mother figure. So, you know, each of the decisions were made on purpose.”
“Nate was advocating for this project. You can’t do the history of humanity without the heroes looking like a cross-section of humanity. And that was really what the goal was,” Feige added.
“Eternals” opens exclusively in theaters on November 5, 2021.