Eternals (film)

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Eternals
Eternals (film) logo.jpg
Official logo
Directed byChloé Zhao
Produced byKevin Feige
Screenplay by
Based onEternals
by Jack Kirby
Starring
Music byRamin Djawadi
CinematographyBen Davis
Edited byDylan Tichenor[1]
Production
company
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release date
  • November 5, 2021 (2021-11-05) (United States)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$200 million[2]

Eternals is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics race of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is intended to be the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Chloé Zhao and written by Kaz and Ryan Firpo. It stars an ensemble cast including Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, Kit Harington, Gemma Chan, and Barry Keoghan. In the film, the Eternals, who have hidden themselves for thousands of years, must re-unite to protect Earth from their enemies, the Deviants.

In April 2018, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced that a film based on the Eternals had begun development, with Kaz and Ryan Firpo hired to write the script for the project in May. By late-September, Marvel had hired Zhao to direct the film. A diverse cast was hired to portray the Eternals, which include Marvel Studios' first depiction of an LGBTQ superhero. Principal photography began in July 2019, with Zhao able to use her own style and film more on location than previous Marvel Studios films. Filming continued until February 2020, with locations including Pinewood Studios, London, and Oxford in England, as well as the Canary Islands.

Eternals is scheduled to be released in the United States on November 5, 2021, as part of Phase Four of the MCU.

Premise[edit]

After an unexpected tragedy following the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019),[3] the Eternals—an immortal alien race created by the Celestials who have secretly lived on Earth for over 7,000 years[4][5]—reunite to protect humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants.[3][6]

Cast[edit]

The cast of Eternals at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con
  • Angelina Jolie as Thena: A fierce warrior Eternal who can form any weapon out of cosmic energy, and develops a close bond with Gilgamesh over the centuries.[7][8]
  • Richard Madden as Ikaris: The tactical leader of the Eternals who can fly, project cosmic energy beams from his eyes, and has superhuman strength.[7][8]
  • Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo:
    An Eternal who can project cosmic energy projectiles from his hands.[7][8] Enamored with fame, Kingo becomes a popular Bollywood film star to blend in on Earth.[9][8] Nanjiani wanted his performance to combine the wisecracking attitude of John McClane from the Die Hard film series with the look of Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan.[10]
  • Lauren Ridloff as Makkari:
    An Eternal who uses her cosmically powered super-speed to scout planets.[7][8] She is the first deaf superhero in the MCU and as such, she is not affected by the sonic booms she creates.[11][8]
  • Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos:
    An Eternal and an intelligent cosmic-powered inventor who helps humanity progress technologically behind the scenes.[7][8] He is the first superhero to be depicted as gay in an MCU film.[12]
  • Salma Hayek as Ajak:
    The wise and spiritual leader of the Eternals, who has aided the advancement of human civilization and is able to use her abilities to heal both humans and Eternals, and can communicate with Celestials.[7][8]
  • Lia McHugh as Sprite: An Eternal who has the appearance of a 12-year-old child and can project lifelike illusions, and is stronger and cleverer than she appears.[7][8]
  • Don Lee as Gilgamesh: The strongest Eternal who can project an exoskeleton of cosmic energy and becomes Thena's partner in their exile from the other Eternals.[7][8]
  • Kit Harington as Dane Whitman: A human warrior who wields a mystical sword.[13][14]
  • Gemma Chan as Sersi:
    An Eternal with an affinity for humankind who is "very empathetic" and has the ability to manipulate matter.[13][15][8] She has been in love with Ikaris for centuries, and poses as a museum curator on Earth.[8] Chan previously portrayed Minn-Erva in the MCU film Captain Marvel (2019).[16]
  • Barry Keoghan as Druig: An aloof Eternal who can use cosmic energy to control the minds of others. He becomes withdrawn from the other Eternals because he disagrees with their interactions with humankind.[13][8]

Additionally, Haaz Sleiman portrays Phastos' husband, an architect.[17]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Director Chloé Zhao promoting Eternals at the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said in April 2018 that the studio was actively developing a film based on the Marvel comic book series Eternals, created by Jack Kirby, to release in their Phase Four slate of films. Marvel had met with multiple screenwriters, and was believed to be focusing on the character Sersi.[18] Marvel set Kaz and Ryan Firpo to write the script a month later,[19] with their outline including a love story between the characters Sersi and Ikaris.[20] In June, Feige said Marvel was interested in exploring the "ancient aliens kind of sci-fi trope" of the Eternals being the inspiration for myths and legends throughout the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).[21]

During late August, Marvel's director search for Eternals narrowed to a shortlist that included Chloé Zhao—who had also been in the running to direct Marvel's Black Widow (2021)—Nicole Kassell, Travis Knight, and the pair of Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra.[20] Zhao approached Marvel Studios about making the film as she had been a fan of the MCU and wanted to work with them to bring her own take to the franchise with world-building,[22] and was chosen to direct the film a month later,[20][23] after impressing Marvel with a presentation that included "reams of visuals" to convey her pitch for the film. Feige called her pitch "fascinating", and said the vision she brought to the film was one of the reasons Zhao was hired.[24] The presentation left Marvel concerned she might take on a different big-studio project instead, forcing them to move quickly to secure her.[20][23] Zhao hoped to push the film "further and bigger" after Avengers: Endgame (2019), and wanted to bring her love of manga to the project to make it "more of that marriage of East and West".[24] As well, she wanted both "scope and scale" and "intimacy" with the film.[25]

Marvel considered Eternals to be a "perfect transition" into its next phase of films along with projects such as Captain Marvel (2019),[23] allowing the studio to cast a diverse group of actors to portray the various Eternals.[20] In February 2019, Feige reiterated that Marvel was interested in the characters due to Kirby's "immense, amazing epic with Eternals that spans tens of thousands of years" in the comics; because they wanted to create more ensemble films "from the start" like Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), rather than building to an ensemble crossover like The Avengers (2012); and to introduce widely unknown characters to audiences as they did with the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.[26]

Pre-production[edit]

I wanted it to reflect the world we live in. But also I wanted to put a cast together that feels like a group of misfits. I didn't want the jocks. I want you to walk away at the end of the movie not thinking, 'This person is this ethnicity, that person is that nationality.' No. I want you to walk away thinking, 'That's a family.' You don't think about what they represent.

—Zhao on the diverse cast of the film[24]

Angelina Jolie joined the cast in March 2019, reportedly as Sersi,[27][28] with Kumail Nanjiani and Don Lee cast in undisclosed roles the next month.[28][29] At that time, the film was expected to feature Marvel Studios' first gay superhero.[30] In May, Richard Madden entered negotiations for the role of Ikaris,[31] and by the following month, Salma Hayek had entered early negotiations for an undisclosed role.[32] In July, Variety reported that the cast included Jolie, Madden, and Millie Bobby Brown,[33] but Brown quickly denied that she had been cast.[34]

At the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con, Feige officially announced the film with a release date of November 6, 2020. He confirmed the casting of Jolie as Thena, Nanjiani as Kingo, Lee as Gilgamesh, Madden as Ikaris, and Hayek as Ajak, and also announced the casting of Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, and Lia McHugh as Sprite.[35] Feige added that one of these actors was portraying an LGBTQ character,[36] with actor Haaz Sleiman later revealing that Phastos is depicted as gay, with Sleiman portraying the character's husband. The pair have a child in the film. Sleiman felt it was important to depict "how loving and beautiful a queer family can be" rather than the "sexual or rebellious" depiction in some previous media.[12] Feige said the relationship was "always sort of inherent in the story" and he felt it was "extremely well done" in the film,[24] while Sleiman called it "thoughtful".[17]

Filming[edit]

By the film's official announcement in July 2019, principal photography had begun at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England.[6][37] Ben Davis served as director of photography, after doing so on several previous MCU films.[38] The following month, Gemma Chan and Barry Keoghan were in talks to join the cast.[16][39] Chan previously portrayed Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel, but reports noted that she was potentially being looked at by Marvel to play a separate character in this film.[16] Since Minn-Erva dies in that film, Chan had felt that it was unlikely she would return to the MCU, but after working on the film she was told by Feige that the studio wanted "to make better use of" her in a future project. This led to Chan auditioning for Sersi, one of the last actresses to be considered for the role. Chan later described Sersi as the most difficult role for the film to cast.[15]

Chan and Keoghan were confirmed to be cast in the film at the D23 Expo in August, in the roles of Sersi and Druig, respectively, along with Kit Harington as Dane Whitman.[13] Chan said that she and Marvel Studios were surprised by how soon after Captain Marvel her new MCU role came about, with both assuming that it would have been a project further in the future.[15] By early November, filming took place in the Canary Islands. The filming crew, including Jolie and Madden, had to be evacuated from a shooting location on the island of Fuerteventura due to an explosive device found there, thought to be a remnant armament from a Nazi base.[40] In early January 2020, filming took place outside the Oxford University Museum of Natural History in Oxford, England,[41] as well as Hampstead Heath in London.[42] Filming wrapped on February 4, 2020.[43]

Zhao stated that Marvel Studios allowed her creative freedom to shoot the film on location, which is "exactly the way [she] wanted to shoot" it. She was able to use a similar style to her previous films, including 360° shots and working with the same camera and rigs as was used for her film Nomadland (2020). Zhao felt that she "got lucky in that Marvel wants to take risks and do something different."[24] Zhao cited The Revenant (2015) as a primary influence when composing the film's action sequences.[44] Chan said the filming process felt very different to what she experienced on Captain Marvel, explaining that Eternals shot more on location and utilized natural light while Captain Marvel had more studio work and bluescreen.[15]

Post-production[edit]

In March 2020, Scanline VFX, one of the companies working on the film's visual effects, confirmed that they would be working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[45] In early April, Disney shifted much of their Phase Four slate of films due to the pandemic, moving Eternals' release date to February 12, 2021.[46] In August, the film's title was shortened from The Eternals to Eternals,[47] and the next month, the release date was pushed back to November 5, 2021.[48] Reshoots had taken place by mid-November 2020.[49]

In January 2021, Zhao revealed she was also a writer on the film, stating the official credits had yet to be updated.[25]

Music[edit]

Ramin Djawadi is set to compose the score for the film, after previously doing so for Marvel's Iron Man (2008).[50]

Release[edit]

Eternals is scheduled to be released in the United States on November 5, 2021.[48] It was previously set for release on November 6, 2020,[7] before it was shifted to February 12, 2021,[46] and then to the November 2021 date, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[48] It will be part of Phase Four of the MCU.[51]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]