Eternals: Chloé Zhao Talks Jack Kirby and Setting Up Future MCU Movies

Dept. of Chats and Confabs


Everything in Eternals is new. It’s a lot of new characters to wrap your head around. It’s a lot of new concepts and new information to grasp. And just like how Jack Kirby’s thought experiment ended up becoming an essential part of the firmament of the Marvel Universe, Chloe Zhao has been tasked with birthing a whole new origin story for the MCU. (You can read our spoiler-free review of the movie here.)

We recently got the chance to sit down with Eternals director, Academy Award winner Chloé Zhao, to talk about what it was like making an MCU movie, the burden of setting up something completely new, and the Jack Kirby-ness of it all.

Chloé Zhao: (Pointing at the “Believe” poster at Goggler HQ.) Is that a Ted Lasso reference?

Umapagan Ampikaipakan: Yes. Yes it is. I’m a very big fan.

CZ: Me too. That’s nice!

UA: So, Chloé, what was it like making a movie like this one? Your first two movies, like most movies, are very much self-contained pieces of art. When you’re making an MCU movie, however, it feels like you have to think about the seven movies that are coming after. What was that like for your process?

CZ: I think I was encouraged coming in to make a standalone movie because that was the spirit of how Jack Kirby created his characters. At that time comics were thriving. You know, there were a lot of really popular characters and really popular storylines. And he felt the need to step back and to create this group of heroes that existed outside of the mainstream narrative.

I think there’s a desire to tap into something new, you know, to explore some difficult and complicated narratives outside the mainstream, and so we wanted to honor that spirit. And that’s why this film stands alone. But it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have ramifications for the future. 

UA: Oh it does!

CZ: Yeah, it does!

UA: I think one of the most interesting things about the Eternals is that it’s probably Marvel’s most grown up movie so far….

CZ: I wonder why people keep saying that…

UA: Oh, I think it’s because of all the sexiness.

CZ: (Laughs.)

UA: For the first time in the MCU, you’ve been tasked with introducing a lot of new concepts and a lot of new ideas, much like Kirby did in his original comics. And I was hoping you could talk to me about your approach given that this was going to be a lot of new information for the audience to take in?

CZ: And we were encouraged to do that. You know, as a fangirl, there are days where I get insecure and say, should we bring in so-and-so? Can he come into the picture? And then Kevin (Feige) goes, “no Chloé, trust your story, trust your characters, and don’t rely on the familiar.” There’s plenty of other spaces to do that. So I couldn’t really geek out in that way. But I’m thankful that they gave me that discipline because, again, to honor the spirit of Jack Kirby and how he created these characters, this movie must exist outside, just on the periphery of the main storyline.

UA: Because you’re there going I want Spider-Man.

CZ: You know what? I’m going to get Spider-Man in a couple of weeks! It’s going to be amazing.

Don’t forget to check out our Eternals review here.

Marvel Studios’ Eternals premieres in Malaysian cinemas on Thursday, November 4.

Previous Story

Night Teeth Is a Disappointingly Anemic Vampire Thriller

Next Story

The Goggler Pull List Special: Writer Max Brooks Responds

Latest from Interviews