Director Chloé Zhao recently made history at the 93rd Academy Awards, becoming the first woman of color to win the Best Director award while also receiving an Oscar for Best Picture for her film Nomadland. Zhao’s next film is the upcoming Marvel Studios feature Eternals. In a new interview with Variety, President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige recalled the pitch that Zhao made for the film and marveled at how it’s coming along.
In a piece profiling the director, Zhao detailed that she initially approached Marvel about working together and was originally considered to direct Black Widow before taking herself out of consideration. She then began to work with Marvel on a pitch for Eternals, which Feige called “spectacular” in its vision. Zhao’s work is also known for its stunning visuals, something Feige was equally impressed with while filming Eternals.
According to Feige, Zhao continually fought for practical locations to be used for the film. Feige noted was a common theme for the director after they showed a sample reel of Eternals to Disney higher-ups.
“I had to keep saying, ‘This is right out of a camera; there’s no VFX work to this at all!’” Feige says. “Because it was a beautiful sunset, with perfect waves and mist coming up from the shore on this giant cliffside — really impressive stuff. [After I watched Nomadland, I went,] ‘Oh! That is not just what she wanted to bring to Marvel. This is a signature style.’”
Zhao also touched on a few aspects of Eternals, notably that it will have Marvel’s first gay superhero, a deaf character and also feature a large international cast. The director said she had no problems working with Marvel to execute her vision of the film.
“I want to be careful saying “my vision,” even though I do want people to know they did support what I wanted to do,” Zhao said. “I want people to know that. But I also want to make sure they know that I got the support of this incredibly talented team, some of the most talented artists in the world. And it really is a village to make this film, but they did let me lead. Yes.”
Marvel also earned more props from Zhao in how they allowed her to work in a smaller, tightly knit crew the way she had on previous films.
“Props to Marvel — from early on, they knew the way I wanted to make this film, how I wanted to shoot. It can’t be hundreds of people standing around. So they very much adapted how to run the set the way that I wanted to work. I’m still surrounded by 25 people. They just have armies, and each of them knew they needed to keep the army away.”
Marvel Studios’ Eternals is currently scheduled for release on November 5, 2021.