Eternals director Chloé Zhao reveals her favorite moment in the MCU movie, declaring her love for her characters’ “dysfunctional family.”
Eternals director Chloé Zhao reveals her favorite moment from the star-studded MCU movie. Like many films over the past two years, Eternals was plagued with production- and release delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. Finally hitting theaters in November 2020 as part of the MCU’s Phase 4, the intergalactic superhero movie followed the titular race of immortal aliens as they emerge from years of hiding to come together and face their enemies, the Deviants. While reviews were mixed, audiences flocked to the cinema: alongside Black Widow, Shang-Chi, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Spider-Man: No Way Home, Eternals helped Marvel properties account for 30% of the total US 2021 box office.
Zhao, a Chinese filmmaker who become the second woman and first woman of color ever to win the Academy Award for Best Director, was a slightly surprising choice to helm a big-budget MCU film, due to her focus on independent projects. Her 2020 film Nomadland, which she wrote, directed and edited, scooped the Oscar for Best Picture. While Marvel’s choice to hire an “auteur” director marked a different approach for the studio, Zhao has revealed she enjoyed her time working on the big-budget franchise film, at one point even suggesting she was open to return for a sequel. The cast also praised her work, with Angelina Jolie referring to Zhao as a “special director.”
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Zhao shares that, of all her Marvel movie’s scenes, she’s most proud of the moment when “the Eternals come together.” While there are “a lot of sparks,” the emotional meaning of their coming together was what struck her most. Though the characters might not belong together, she says, they “find their place” within the “dysfunctional family” of Eternals. Read the full quote below:
What I’m most proud of are the moments when the Eternals come together. There are a lot of sparks. They’re people who in regular walks of life don’t necessarily belong together, but they manage to find their place within this very dysfunctional family. That, I love most of all.
The critical and audience reception to Eternals has been polarized, with Zhao’s film ranked the worst of all the MCU films on Rotten Tomatoes. While many praised the film for taking a bold, new approach with a relatively greater focus on philosophical questions, many criticized the screenplay for a slow and unexciting plot, exacerbated by a baggy runtime of 2 hours and 37 minutes. While Marvel has often been criticized for producing formulaic movies – a criticism from which Eternals was not immune – Zhao was given complete creative freedom by the studio, which created something new. Fans and critics appear to be split over the success of this new type of MCU film.
For an independent filmmaker like Zhao, however, it’s no surprise that her favorite moment is one of family, focusing on the emotional side of the story. Helping someone “find their place” is a theme present in Zhao’s previous films: Nomadland,; The Rider; and Songs My Brothers Taught Me. It remains to be seen whether Marvel will work with Zhao again, as while she herself initially appeared keen on returning for a sequel, she has more recently expressed doubts about returning. Regardless, the line between blockbuster and independent filmmaking is becoming blurred, and both Zhao’s work on Eternals and Denis Villeneuve’s work on Dune are testaments to this.
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