It’s a pretty dang good time to be Chloé Zhao. Hot off her historic trio of Oscar wins for Nomadland—Best Picture, Best Director, and another Best Actress win for Frances McDormand—Zhao is launching right into the MCU, with Eternals set to debut on November 5. (She’s also prepping a sci-fi western adaptation of Dracula, the most baller combination of words in human history.) On the surface, the leap shouldn’t be an easy one; for every Taika Waititi, the history of the MCU is littered with exciting filmmakers whose vision gets, let’s say, a little diluted by the franchise umbrella. But a new Variety interview with Zhao, with a few extra tidbits courtesy of Marvel President Kevin Feige, aims to assure audiences that the MCU is getting injected with Nomadland-level artistry, not the other way around.
Feige described Eternals as “a very bold and very ambitious, sprawling 7,000-year story of humanity and our place in the cosmos.” Recounting a sample screening for Disney brass, Feige said:
“I had to keep saying, ‘This is right out of a camera; there’s no VFX work to this at all!’…Because it was a beautiful sunset, with perfect waves and mist coming up from the shore on this giant cliffside — really impressive stuff.”
As for Zhao, she notes that the Eternals production is in the “final stretch.” The film will mark the first big-screen appearance for the titular race of super-beings created by Marvel‘s most iconic cosmic artist, Jack Kirby. According to Zhao, the imagery in Eternals is indebted to Kirby‘s work.
“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.”
Eternals hits theaters on November 5, 2021. The film’s stacked ensemble includes Angelina Jolie, Kit Harrington, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Gemma Chan, Brian Tyree Henry, and Ma Dong-seok.