Chloé Zhao Approached Marvel About Making 'Eternals', Not the Other Way Around

There’s a perception in the comic book movie fandom that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and his team of executives hand-pick talented, up-and-coming filmmakers from the independent film scene to become directors of big budget superhero movies. But that wasn’t the case with Chloé Zhao, the talented, up-and-coming indie filmmaker behind films like The Rider and the forthcoming Nomadland. In a new interview, Zhao explains that she was the one who approached the studio about making a comic book movie, not the other way around.

In a discussion with fellow director Barry Jenkins for Variety (via The Playlist), Zhao was asked how and why she ended up making a $200 million superhero movie after making small, quiet, intimate dramas thus far in her career.

“I grew up with manga,” she responded, echoing an inspiration she has cited previously. “I have to just say, we didn’t have movies when I was growing up, not the same way that you guys had access to films, but I did have just cabinets and cabinets of Japanese manga. I just devoured them. That was my first love. I wanted to be a manga artist, but I was not very good at drawing. I have been a fan of the MCU for the last decade. So, I put the word out there I wanted to make a Marvel movie and the right project came to me.”

Eternals stars Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Awkwafina, Brian Tyree Henry, Kit Harington, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Don Lee, Barry Keoghan, and Lauren Ridloff. It tells the story of a war between two: the Eternals, super-powered beings who have secretly been living on Earth for thousands of years, and their long-time rivals, the Deviants.

“I just wanted to work with that team,” Zhao continued, referring to Feige and the Marvel producers. “Again, back to world-building. It is my favorite thing. That’s why I love Star Wars. There is a world that is so rich. I wanted to enter it and see what I can do…can I put a spin on it while still being true to the essence of it? That’s exciting to me. It’s not that different than me going to the world of rodeo cowboys and saying, ‘My spin on that is going to be this,’ and it’s a collaboration. The chemistry of that, when it’s right, it could be very exciting.”

Eternals is slated for release on November 5, 2021.

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