The Eternals: how director Chloé Zhao reinvents the Marvel universe

Oscar-winning director for Nomadland, Chloé Zhao made her foray into the Marvel universe with the film The Eternals, currently in theaters. The filmmaker told us about her vision for the film and her shooting experience.

Currently in theaters, The Eternals is the twenty-sixth film in the Marvel universe, which has the distinction of presenting new superheroes to fans of the franchise. To make this epic new feature film, it’s nomadland Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloé Zhao who has been chosen by Marvel Studios to lead an XXL cast and tell an epic story.

AlloCiné: How The Eternals mark a turning point for the MCU?

Chloe Zhao: In many ways. First, we can go back to the origins of the MCU. Sometimes you have to look back to know where you are going and what are the elements that have had an effect on the future of the universe. Then there is a question of desire.

There was a real desire from Marvel Studios, which made me want to work on this project, which was to analyze the Infinity Saga, all the characters that there were, and to deconstruct certain principles. on which the universe is based in order to revisit certain periods. So, I’m not sure exactly how the movie is going to affect the future of the MCU but I think it’s great to see a different palette of colors in this universe.

With this film, you had the daunting task of introducing new superheroes and telling their 7,000-year-old epic. What was the biggest challenge for you?

There were twelve Eternals at the base and we have reduced the number of that group to ten. The palette of this universe is rich and the characters are so interesting and of diverse origins with so many fascinating stories that the biggest challenge was to know what to take away or put aside. This is what was the hardest part.

You are credited twice to the script in the film’s production notes, can you explain why?

In fact, it’s just a technical question. Because patrick [Burleigh, ndlr] and I wrote as partners. And then I also wrote on my own. That’s why my name is indicated twice in the scenario [avec également Ryan et Kaz Firpo, d’après les personnages créés par Jack Kirby, ndlr].

The eternals: how director chloé zhao reinvents the marvel universe
Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

You bring your very naturalistic touch, representative of your cinema, in this super-heroic universe with a refined staging and sequences in real settings with little green backgrounds. What were your inspirations for making Les Éternels?

We joked about having a National Geographic approach. We figured that if National Geographic decided to make a documentary about these ten ancient aliens that exist, they wouldn’t use huge cranes and slow-motion effects with the camera but instead try to capture reality. But this reality of the Eternals does not exist in real life. So we had to create this fantastic reality and let the camera capture it.

At the end of the film, it says the following sentence: “The Eternals will return”. Can we expect a sequel? Would you be up for it?

There’s one thing you know about Marvel Studios, and people don’t believe me when I say that, is that you come to make a movie. They ask you to get your guts out, put everything on the table and not think about the future. Once the movie is over, it’s up to the fans, the audience. Then it takes shape and some shape. So we’ll see.

You are a huge Marvel fan and you finally got the chance to make a movie for the franchise with The Eternals. Some time ago you were on a short list to make Black Widow but you preferred to invest in this project. How does it feel to join this universe?

I love being part of this family. What I really like about them is that they are a small group of people after all and that they are very humble. They are not flashy, not superficial, they are not interested. They just like to tell stories. We’re just a bunch of geeks, actually.

We love to meet up and geek out. I can do this with Kevin [Feige, ndlr] for hours. And it’s also a family that evolves and tries to find out who it is. I think they are at a great turning point today. I can’t wait to see which direction they will go.

The eternals: how director chloé zhao reinvents the marvel universe
Walt Disney Germany

Do you think there is a shift in the very prolific genre of science fiction and superhero films when you see the new proposals of the genre like that of Denis Villeneuve with Dune and yours with Les? Eternal?

There are more and more superhero movies, science fiction movies. For example, I saw Interstellar recently, because Denis [Villeneuve, ndlr] recommended it to me. And I have a whole different vision of the film now, very different from what I had the first time I saw it.

I think the western genre was born out of humanity’s curiosity about what existed beyond the horizon. Because we hadn’t conquered all of Earth. And there was fear and passion and angst about it. And now I think a lot of our source of angst, passion, and fear is space, our relationship to technology. Can we live forever?

There are a lot of questions like this that we ask ourselves. But also on what is at the bottom of the ocean, I can not wait to see the next Avatar when it comes out. So I think sci-fi and superhero movies are very popular right now because there are a lot of ways to visualize, reinterpret and make sense of our common angst about our future through these movies. .

The Eternals movie trailer, currently in theaters:

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