If Spider-Man: No Way Home was Marvel’s big success for 2021, Eternals exists somewhere on the opposite end of the spectrum. When it was first announced that the director of Nomadland, Chloe Zhao, was going to take on a brand new Marvel project, fans were extremely excited to see the new artistic directions that Marvel was going to take for its upcoming projects.
As is evident from the public reception, fans did not enjoy the slow narrative structure and the pacing of Eternals at all, even though they enjoyed the different visual approaches of the project. While the movie was a commercial success (which is never a difficult thing for Marvel films to achieve), Eternals was criticised for Zhao’s transgressions against the Marvel formula.
In contrast with the studio-based production of most Marvel projects, Eternals featured location-based shooting and a naturalistic approach in order to tell the story of two alien races locked in an ancient battle against each other who find themselves on Earth. Starring the likes of Gemma Chan and Harry Styles, Eternals was one of the most anticipated films of the year.
Despite the fact that Marvel allowed Zhao to have more creative control for Eternals because they knew she had wanted to tell this story for a long time now, the unique demands of a Marvel experience and Zhao’s own filmmaking style resulted in a finished product with clashing sensibilities which ended up dividing audiences all over the world.
In a new interview, Zhao has opened up about the alternate ending she had in mind for Eternals which she described as “really bleak.” The filmmaker added: “I didn’t hate it, because I’m used to films that are more melancholy. But I don’t think it went down well with audiences. It used to end with everybody back on the ship, minds erased and just going on to another planet, like The Twilight Zone.” However, it did not go down well with test audiences.
After an October premiere, Eternals has hit the theatres and has had a strangely ambiguous reception. Check out the new trailer below.