Eternals came in as the third Marvel Cinematic Universe film under the massive Phase 4 slate. The movie is directed by Academy Award-winner Chloé Zhao, and it features a stellar cast that includes the likes of Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Salma Hayek, and Kit Harington. Eternals follows the story of cosmic powered beings who have been living on Earth for thousands of years but chose to not interfere with human conflicts unless the Deviants, their mortal enemies, were involved.
While the MCU film saw mixed reception from fans and critics, Eternals still obtained a decent box office debut, beating out Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings but coming just behind Black Widow.
One of the important characters introduced in the movie is Arishem. The powerful Celestial served as the entity that sent the Eternals to Earth to eradicate the Deviants. However, it seems that this mission was solely intended to bring forth the birth of another Celestial, Tiamut, that could lead to Earth's destruction.
This reveal eventually caused a rift between the Eternals, forcing them to choose sides in the battle for Earth. In the end, Sersi and the rest of the team successfully saved the world, but Arishem took them to destinations unknown for judgment.
Now, as the film heads to Disney+, an interesting reveal about Arishem was unveiled during a new interview.
Eternals Has a Secret Willy Wonka Connection
Scanline visual effects supervisor Jelmer Boskma, who worked for Eternals, sat down with Befores & Afters to break down the design work and VFX process of the MCU film.
Boskma first praised Eternals visual effects supervisor Stephane Ceretti, admitting that she knows "how the process works" but she confirmed that "it's a committee" at the end of the day:
"[Stephane Ceretti] has been with Marvel for such a long time. He knows how the process works. But at the end of the day, it’s a committee. There are a lot of clever and very invested people that have opinions on how things should look and why. There’s a fair amount of brainstorming that goes on behind closed doors to which we’re not privy. There’s quite a number of people to essentially sell our shots and our ideas to."
Boskma continued by discussing how Marvel utilized its ideas in the conceptualization phase of its films:
"With Marvel, specifically, finding consensus on an idea is sometimes half the battle, from a rudimentary conceptualization point of view. There will be conversations, like, ‘Well, why do we use these colors?’ and, ‘What is the function of this place? Do we need to tell that story?’ A lot of that was not figured out."
The Scanline VFX supervisor then shared how the pandemic affected the film's development. Boskma shared that "there was more interaction" with the bird-like Deviant that was introduced during the story showing how the Eternals and Deviants are related:
"The wall of memories moment for instance–we had come out of the pandemic hiatus. We had been shut down for two months which gave Chloé time to think and she came back with that wild new concept for the sequence. Originally there was more interaction with what we called the ‘Void’ Deviant, this bird-like deviant that we built, telling the story about how Eternals and Deviants are related. This later found a home in the Centurii six scene."
In an interesting reveal, Boskma unveiled that there was a scrapped scene in Eternals "where Arishem shrunk himself down and essentially was like Willy Wonka," giving an unfamiliar Sersi a behind-the-scenes look at the World Forge just as Wonka hosts his golden ticket winners to a tour around his chocolate factory.
The VFX supervisor confirmed that this scene "got lost" and the World Forge sequence, where Arishem informs Sersi about the Eternals' origin, was filmed during a "separate pickup shoot:"
"There was a version where Arishem shrunk himself down and essentially was like Willy Wonka walking through the World Forge. That got lost, but the wall of memories and all of that stuck. Even though it was something that was conceived much later. The entirety of the World Forge was photographed during a separate pickup shoot, long after principal."
Arishem In Human Form?
A human-form, Willy Wonka-inspired Arishem would've been a potentially confusing addition to a scene that was already stuffed with heavy exposition; it's possible that this idea was axed to avoid overwhelming the audience. While cutting this character portrayal wasn't a last-minute decision, the concept did get far enough in development to reach the visual effects teams, meaning that Zhao and the Firpos' writing duo had set their sights on a transformative Arishem during the pre-production process.
It has been confirmed that Eternals is jam-packed with bonus content ahead of its Disney+ and digital releases, which will likely provide more details about Zhao's narrative direction, Marvel's guidance, and more scrapped ideas that didn't make the final cut.
Eternals will be available to stream on Disney+ on January 12, 2022.