'Eternals' director Chloe Zhao says Marvel gave her total creative freedom

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·2-min read
Chloe Zhao speaks onstage during the Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 3, 2018. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)
Chloe Zhao speaks onstage during the Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 3, 2018. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

Eternals director Chloe Zhao has revealed she was able to “shoot exactly the way I wanted to shoot”, despite the mammoth scale of the Marvel blockbuster.

Zhao told The Hollywood Reporter she was able to mimic the approach of her smaller films — including The Rider and Nomadland — for her MCU debut.

Read more: Angelina Jolie joins Eternals cast

The director said she was able to do a lot of location shooting and utilise magic hour for her visual style, using the same camera rigs as she did for her previous work.

She said: “It’s a bit surreal. I’m still waiting for the shoe to drop. It hasn’t.

“I think I got lucky in that Marvel wants to take risks and do something different.”

Logo for 'Eternals'. (Credit: Marvel/Disney)
Logo for 'Eternals'. (Credit: Marvel/Disney)

Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige said Zhao’s original pitch for the movie was “fascinating” and that the LGBT+ relationship in the film felt “inherent in the story”.

He added: “I think it is extremely well done, and I look forward to that level of inclusion in our future movies being less of a topic.”

Read more: Kumail Nanjiani transforms body for Eternals

Zhao said she wanted to put together a cast of characters that “feels like a group of misfits”.

"I wanted it to reflect the world we live in," she added.

The director and studio have assembled an enviable roster of A-listers, including Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani and Kit Harington.

President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige and director Chloe Zhao of 'The Eternals' at San Diego Comic-Con International 2019. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige and director Chloe Zhao of 'The Eternals' at San Diego Comic-Con International 2019. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Brian Tyree Henry will portray Phastos — the first openly gay superhero in the MCU — while Lauren Ridloff will portray Makkari, becoming the first deaf hero in the money-spinning franchise.

Read more: Chris Evans says Marvel deserves awards recognition

The Eternals are a race of powerful, immortal aliens who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years.

The movie sees them reunite and emerge from hiding in order to repel the Deviants — their malevolent counterparts.

Eternals had originally been due for release in November 2020 prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but it will now debut in February 2021.