Avengers: Endgame was an ambitious movie, but the MCU going forward is going to kick things up many more notches with Eternals, directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloé Zhao. Luckily, we got to see the first footage from the movie in the Marvel Phase 4 trailer which dropped today. In an interview with Variety, MCU showrunner Kevin Feige explained that the movie is set to take place over a period of 7000 years.
"[Eternals is] a very bold and very ambitious, sprawling 7,000-year story of humanity and our place in the cosmos."
In the Marvel comics developed by Jack Kirby which birthed the characters, the Eternals were an immensely long-lived Earthly race created by the immensely powerful Celestials, to be humanity's protectors as the fledgling species took its first steps into the cosmos. Over time, the Eternals came to be defined through their rivalry with their ancient counterparts, the Deviants. According to Zhao, Kirby's work forms the basis for her movie, along with various influences across manga, sci-fi, and fantasy films.
"Jack Kirby and his imagination, his incredible work, is really the foundation of it. On top of that, there is what Marvel Studios has built, this incredible journey they have going on. And then on top of that is me as a fan of the MCU. And then, me as a fan of the genre, but also growing up with sci-fi and manga and fantasy films. And how can we have this big melting pot and cook up something that may just taste a little bit different? It was just an exciting thing; all of us went in wanting to do that. We'll see."
Despite dealing with a cosmic race of superhumans, Feige has stated that Eternals features a great deal more practical effects and non-CGI camerawork than most other MCU movies. This was a specific requirement for Zhao, who asserts that Marvel Studios was happy to let her work in a way which allowed her to keep the movie specific to her personal vision.
"It's just been such an incredible experience working with the team at Marvel. I want to be careful saying "my vision," even though I do want people to know they did support what I wanted to do. I want people to know that. 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. Yes... Props to Marvel - from early on, they knew the way I wanted to make this film, how I wanted to shoot. It can't be hundreds of people standing around. So they very much adapted how to run the set the way that I wanted to work. I'm still surrounded by 25 people. They just have armies, and each of them knew they needed to keep the army away."
Directed by Chloé Zhao from a screenplay by Matthew and Ryan Firpo, Eternals stars Gemma Chan as Sersi, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Angelina Jolie as Thena, Barry Keoghan as Druig and Kit Harington as Dane Whitman/Black Knight. The film arrives in theaters on November 5. Check out the full interview at Variety.