The Eternals has been one of the MCU’s biggest mysteries for years: Built around a lesser-known team created by Jack Kirby, the illustrator whose better known characters include Captain America, Iron Man, the X-Men, and the Hulk, it sent even comic-book fans Googling when Marvel announces the film in April 2018. A few months later, the company added to the film’s curiosity by announcing it would be directed by a well-respected but little-known indie filmmaker named Chloé Zhao, and headlined by A-listers including Angelina Jolie. Kumail Nanjiani, one of its stars, piqued the Internet’s curiosity further by getting very suddenly and uncharacteristically jacked.
While we waited for the first footage, the world underwent a series of twists Kirby and creative partner Stan Lee might have once dismissed as too outlandish. First, a worldwide pandemic pushed the film’s fall 2020 release date by a year. And while waiting to complete The Eternals, Zhao made a low-budget film, Nomadland, that ended up winning Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars.
So it’s safe to say curiosity about The Eternals is running high. And Marvel satisfied a bit of it on Monday — while adding lots more — by releasing a few seconds of footage from the film during a three-minute salute to the moviegoing experience narrated by the late Stan Lee himself.
Besides announcing the title of the highly awaited new Black Panther film — Black Panther: Wakanda Forever — the ad/featurette above shares footage Eternals footage of the films cast, which includes Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, Kit Harington, Gemma Chan, and Barry Keoghan. The Eternals segment starts at the 2:20 mark above.
We see Hayak on horseback (shades of Zhao’s brilliant 2017 film, The Rider), and then several Eternals gathered on a beach and a woody setting. Jolie, blonde, brandishes a golden sword. The team assembles before a stately blue structure festooned with golden beasts.
Zhao’s love of naturalistic light and sweeping vistas is obvious. With respect to Kirby, a comic-book god, it all feels perhaps more… epic than his original 1970s renderings of The Eternals:
In an interview with Variety after her Nomadland Oscars, Zhao said Marvel gave her tremendous freedom to make the film her way.
“I want to be careful saying ‘my vision,’ even though I do want people to know they did support what I wanted to do,” she said. “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.”
Marvel Studios president elaborated that Zhao, a Marvel fan, pitched the company a story that presented “a very bold and very ambitious, sprawling 7,000-year story of humanity and our place in the cosmos.”
He told Variety she avoided green screens and CGI, Marvel staples, whenever possible. At one point, she showed Disney higher-up some of her shots.
“And I had to keep saying, ‘This is right out of a camera; there’s no VFX work to this at all!’” Feige told Variety. “Because it was a beautiful sunset, with perfect waves and mist coming up from the shore on this giant cliffside — really impressive stuff.”
When he saw Nomadland, he understood that Zhao didn’t just bring such an approach to Marvel: “This is a signature style,” he said.
Main image: Angelina Jolie in Eternals.