Behind The Scenes Of Marvel's 'Big, Cosmic, Crazy Movie' Eternals

Behind The Scenes Of Marvel's 'Big, Cosmic, Crazy Movie' Eternals

There’s a hefty dose of mystery surrounding Marvel’s upcoming film Eternals. Described as “a big, cosmic, crazy movie set on Earth for over 7,000 years” by producer Nate Moore, the Chloé Zhao-directed origin story will introduce crowds to Marvel’s largest cast of superheroes ever as soon as it hits theaters Friday (November 5). The 10-member team, created by comic book artist Jack Kirby in 1976, are immortal superhumans from the planet Olympia who are tasked with keeping a watchful eye over humankind and protecting them from a horde of parasitic aliens referred to as Deviants. Their synergy successfully keeps the monstrous creatures at bay for millennia up until a new strain appears, forcing the present-day team to musical group with each other to save civilization.

With a robust cast of stars including Gemma Chan, Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden, and Salma Hayek, it was essential to Zhao that each Eternal retain a unique identity. Yet they fight for a typical objective, the characters all have their own suggestions, beliefs, elaborate relationships, techniques of combat, and limitations. “While they incredibly powerful, there really are things they cannot do,” Moore explained. “Part of this film is exploring what the edges of that are and why they come up with smart ways to amplify the power, some days to do the impossible.” MTV News visited the United Kingdom set of Eternals in January 2020 to find out all about Zhao’s approach to the film, Hayek’s thoughts on the casting process, and how the film is a “epic romance.”

  • Eternals is “aesthetically different” from previous Marvel movies.

    From the moment it was reported that Zhao would direct Eternals in 2018, Marvel was conscious of the dissonance between the Oscar-winning director’s grounded fashion of filmmaking and the cosmic brawls of its cinematic wheelhouse. “[Zhao] doesn't seem to be the sort of filmmaker who necessarily wants to tackle this giant group kind of visual blockbuster,” Moore noted. In actuality, he revealed, Zhao is “a huge MCU fan” with a soft spot for Captain America.

    As an alternative, he explained that the combining of Marvel’s epic heroism with Zhao’s gritty realism was the ideal mixture to “make Eternals feel aesthetically different than any other Marvel movie” that came before it. “She likes to shoot in a lot of organic locations and organic light,” he added. “This film, actually of any Marvel films, has shot outdoors exteriors more than anything else. I think it's lent it a look that's unlike anything we've ever done.”

    Hayek described Zhao’s directing as “very smooth,” leaning heavily into a sense of intimacy and kinship between characters more so than its marvelous predecessors. “There is action — the, certainly, big epic moments that are very established of the Marvel movies,” she explained. “But there really is the intimacy, individual language, and in the moments [Zhao] captures from the characters.”

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    The Eternals each have different perceptions of humans.

    While Sersi (Chan), Kingo (Nanjiani), and Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), mixture into human society by finding partners and careers, others like Thena (Jolie) and Gilgamesh (Don Lee) seek isolation. Sprite (Lia McHugh) and Druig (Barry Keoghan) are open in their disdain for the mammalian race. “Sprite thinks human beings are sort of stupid,” McHugh mentioned. “She thinks they're really foolish and so they don't know things and they're really not advanced at all.”

    “Some of the Eternals live amongst human beings very freely. Some totally live removed from humanity. So as soon as they interact with human beings, they interact with them very differently,” Moore added. “Some visualize the developments of humanity societies and then some of the ills that come with it as a tragedy, and then some visualize it as just a needed evil for any intelligent life to expand.”

    Interestingly, one of the key characters of the film is a human: Dane Whitman (Kit Harington), who comic fans will know because the Black Knight. Moore described Whitman as “a usual guy who was tortured, to some degree, by his lineage,” yet revealed the character won’t be taking up the infamous Ebony Blade anytime soon. “He's not going to be Black Knight necessarily, however that is something that we get to play with down the road.”

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    Hayek's Ajak is thought the “Eternals’s mom.”

    The healer Ajak is widely believed the leader of the Eternals due to her direct line of communication with ancient space gods called Celestials. In stepping into that role, the actress felt a level of protectiveness once it came to her superhuman family member. “I visualize them like my kids,” she mentioned, adding that there’s “a level of love, of caring, of empathy” that drives her character’s aspire to keep the sort with each other. “There's a level of attempting to hold onto not just the mission, although the family that is doing this mission which is different.”

    Lovingly dubbed “the Eternals’s mom” by McHugh, Hayek shared that Ajak maintains a “different relationship” with each hero. “I know that Kingo is the most vain of those all and a persons vision seeker,” she mentioned. “Thena is the mysterious one. She's mysterious and also you never know what's going to come out in her, because she is the strongest and, in some ways, the most fragile, and that's the aesthetics in her. This is where I watch out for her.”

    Ikaris (Madden) is her “perfectionist” son, while Phastos is her “geek” with a knack for engineering. “He might have to quota the technology time, because if I don't pull him out of that, he can just stay there up until he dies,” she joked. The strong Gilgamesh is “the kindest one with a good heart,” and she gleefully admits that illusionist Sprite is “a little bit of a smartass sometimes.” She considers the mind-controlling Druig the dark horse of the family member because he’s “always overthinking everything and asks a hundred questions,” not unlike the speedy Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) who “has to know all of the facts.” As soon as it comes to Sersi, Hayek says she’s her “sweet, sweet, lovely girl.”

  • Sophie Mutevelian/Marvel Studios

    The Notebook was a reference for Ikaris and Sersi’s relationship.

    According to Moore, Ikaris and Sersi are “the central characters of the movie” and their ever-evolving, centuries-long bond created the possibility to explore a more romantically driven narrative than past Marvel films. “We've made 25-plus movies right now at Marvel, yet this is the initial movie that's really built around a romance,” he mentioned. “[You] of course have Tony and Pepper, you have Steve and Peggy, those re the side stories. This, if we can do it right, is an epic romance. It's never going to be The Notebook, yet that's the intent, for it to be something that is the spine of the movie.”

    The immortal Sersi and Ikaris “definitely have their ups and downs” as a couple while in the film. “You get to be able to see them in all the happy, joyous parts and the hard parts and the tricky parts,” Moore added of the characters' connection, which includes the MCU's first onscreen love scene. “I think that is really interesting to explore in midst all of the other things that are going on. How do these two people stay with each other — if they do stay with each other — or if they don't stay with each other, what tore them apart? Again, it's not The Notebook, however in [that film] you get to be able to see all of the challenges they have attempt to be together. I think this is similar.”

    It’s while in these challenges that Dane Whitman comes into the scene. In an early '90s run of The Avengers comics, Sersi and Whitman noticed themselves embroiled in a love triangle with an elementalist named Crystal. According to Moore, that tension was “really interesting and fun to play with” during the film as Sersi finds herself caught between Whitman and Ikaris. “It just seemed to us to be an organic segment of storytelling and seeing how Sersi has changed from the Sersi of 7,000 years ago,” he mentioned. “Part of that is who she spent a lot of time with.”

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    Hayek opened up about the film’s casting.

    Hayek noticed herself in a state of disbelief as soon as she procured a telephone call about a potential role in a Marvel movie. “It [was] very exhilarating at 53 to get that random call: ‘You just got a movie from Marvel.’ I'm like, Now? …  Are you kidding me? This is a joke?

    “They approach you without a script so you have got to prepare a decision,” she mentioned. “They tell you the name of the character, although not up until you're on the phone call. So I cannot even look it up before the phone call.” Right after speaking with Zhao about the role of Ajak, she abides by the film without ever seeing a script. “At the end of the call, you understand some of the data and also you have got to create a decision: Are you going to do it or not?

    What drew her to Eternals with so few context clues? Chloé Zhao. “At the end of the day, I think that it was really exhilarating for me have the ability to work with her,” Hayek shared. “Just from hearing her talk, even without the script, she was strong. She was clear. She was different. She was interesting. You can visualize images, the way she described things. I may visualize images. For me, that's really important.”

  • Sophie Mutevelian/Marvel Studios

    The Eternals’s costumes take inspiration from creator Jack Kirby.

    As soon as it came to designing the suits for Eternals, Marvel was against the idea of making a central uniform; with such an enormous team, donning matching suits could cause them to all blur with each other. “They had to be individual characters,” Costume Effects Supervisor Ivo Coveney mentioned. “It wasn't like we were making a X-Men suit that each person was [wearing], yet it was attempting to create ensure that, any time as soon as you looked at them, they looked like they were from the same place.”

    It proved to be a fascinating challenge to unite the characters under a similar fashion, although also individualize them. Furthermore to giving each character a representative color, the costume team divided the Eternals into two categories: fighters and thinkers. “Five of these are more thinkers and five of these are more fighters,” mentioned Costume Designer Sammy Sheldon Differ. “Anything that's more flowing, they're the thinkers. Like, Ajak is the leader and she's got a cute cape.”

    Then, they added little touches — including their own cuneiform writing system — that would simultaneously link all the characters and supply a timeless excellent to their ensembles. “There's a lot of Jack Kirby circles and lines,” mentioned Differ, a homage to the comic book creator. “And and then the texture and everything, we looked into the universe, and nebulas and minerals, Earth and galactic, and attempted to pull some texture with each other that gave it a surface that didn't look like it was just a fabric.”

    As soon as the cast stepped into their costumes for the initial time, they were taken aback. “Brian Tyree Henry was so scared as soon as he first came, because he didn't understand how we were going to turn him into a superhero," mentioned Differ. “And so in his last fitting, any time it was finished, he put it on with his eyes closed and then looked in the reflect and cried with joy.” It was an identically “glorious moment” once Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Don Lee, Richard Madden, and Lauren Ridloff first saw each other suited up on set. “They hadn't really seen each other in their costumes,” mentioned Differ. “[They] came on set any time we were in Spain, and so they were all like... Looking at each other. They were so happy and pumped."

  • Marvel Studios

    Sequel conversations are already happening.

    According to Moore, Eternals will “definitely have an impact” on the greater MCU. “Obviously, while you deal with characters like Eternals and Celestials and even Deviants, the ripple is quite behind this film,” he mentioned. “We have some thought of, again, how they can support be the spine of what Phase Four gets to be, however we routinely leave room for invention.”

    He stated that Marvel doesn’t “necessarily have [an Eternals] trilogy offered out” like it had with the Captain America and Iron Man series, however discussions about a potential sequel “have happened” already. “To some degree, because the movie is finished and we've began showing it, crowds will tell us what they love, what they don't understand, what they want more of,” he mentioned. “We don't presume to know what's best for people or what they're going to fall in love with. So there really is a little bit of discovery still.”

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