After over a decade of breaking records while accruing praise from critics and fans alike, Marvel Studios suffered its most divisive release yet with Chloe Zhao's Eternals in November 2021. For months, Oscar-buzz was high for the revolutionary MCU flick as many speculated it may even be put forward for the prestigious Best Picture award. Alas, the ensemble blockbuster instead went on to become Marvel's first rotten-rated release on Rotten Tomatoes.
Since then, there have been plenty of discussions surrounding Eternals as some fans still continue to sing its praises for the progressive steps it took in both diversity and representation. Nonetheless, the movie undeniably has its flaws, some of which could arguably be fixed with a longer run time.
As Eternals' Disney+ and home media release moves ever closer, evidence has pointed to the potential of an extended cut for the 2021 film that may help it boost its likability with audiences.
Evidence Points to Eternals Extended Cut
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has published a new classification for Eternals with an increased runtime leading to speculation that an extended cut of the film could be on the way.
On January 4, 2022, the BBFC classified a version of Eternals with an approximate 174-minute running time, which is 17 minutes longer than the 157-minute length of the theatrically-released cut of the film.
For reference, the BBFC classified a 127-minute version of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on November 15, 2021, the same day as its British Blu-Ray release. As this comes in five minutes shorter than what the movie is in reality, it's possible this Eternals classification is simply in preparation for its home media release with the approximate run time just being a few minutes off, or with added bonus features being taken into account.
Eternals: Release the Zhao Cut?
The BBFC has yet to confirm an extended cut of Marvel Studios' Eternals. The film's upcoming Blu-Ray release will be accompanied by four deleted scenes, although the cast and crew have previously given details of even more scenes being absent from the Marvel epic.
Members of the cast have described a cut scene that would have featured Harry Styles' Eros aka Starfox interacting with more of the Eternals in the Domo. With no sign of the One Direction singer popping up in another MCU project anytime soon, many would be delighted to see a little more of him in his new Marvel form.
With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in May giving fans five months to go until Marvel Studios' next movie hits theaters, the studio has a gap that could absolutely be filled with a special Eternals extended cut being released. But with many criticisms of Eternals calling out its slow pacing and lack of the usual Marvel action, perhaps a longer cut of the film would only receive more flack as the unessential scenes would only add to how long the movie feels to some viewers.
Having been widely panned on release by fans and critics alike, perhaps Chloe Zhao's Marvel debut could benefit greatly from more scenes to further develop its expansive cast of immortal heroes. It does seem unlikely as Marvel Studios CCO Kevin Feige has publically been against the idea of any MCU flick having an extended cut, but maybe his first Rotten movie will force him to reconsider.
To date, Marvel Studios has never released an extended cut for any MCU movies, making it doubtful Eternals will receive any special treatment. Although, since the studio has never had a critical failure on the level of Eternals, it could provide an opportunity to fix things, if the deleted scenes do anything to improve things that is.
If Eternals were to receive an extended cut to further showcase Chloe Zhao's vision for the film, chances are it would release as a Disney+ exclusive. As Disney and Marvel continue to further emphasize the streaming platform as physical releases are increasingly phased out across the industry, it would undoubtedly be a popular exclusive to bolster subscriber numbers.
From everything that's been revealed so far, it doesn't appear Eternals suffered any significant studio interference that could have tarnished Chloe Zhao's vision. So any expanded release wouldn't exactly be a director's edition, but rather more of an extended cut with the deleted scenes thrown into the mix.
Eternals hits Disney+ on January 12, 2022.