Marvel's Eternals Director Reveals Much Darker Alternate Ending

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Posted:
Eternals Kit Harington and Richard Madden

Eternals ended on a massive cliffhanger, thus raising more questions than answers about the MCU's newest superhero team. Directed by Chloé Zhao, the Marvel flick follows the story of cosmic-powered immortals who have been living on Earth for thousands of years but chose not to interfere with human conflicts unless the Deviants are involved. 

Eternals features a stellar ensemble that includes the likes of Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, and Kit Harington. The movie showcased different points in time in the MCU's vast history, ultimately leading to a present-day phenomenon known as the Emergence. 

The Emergence is an event where a Celestial is born, destroying its host planet in the process. The Eternals were divided about the Emergence, but eventually, they set aside their differences to save the planet that they have been protecting for millennia. 

Eternals ends on a positive note at first, with Thena, Druig, and Makkari heading to space to find others like them while Sersi, Phastos, and Kingo stays on Earth to continue living their lives. However, Arishem's arrival quickly changed the ending's tune, taking Sersi, Phastos, and Kingo with him to parts unknown as part of their apparent betrayal. 

Now, a new interview with Zhao revealed that the film had a darker ending than the one that was presented in the movie.

Eternals' Deleted Ending

Eternals Group ship

Eternals director Chloé Zhao sat down with Empire to talk about the movie's surprising ending. 

When asked if the original ending was Zhao's plan from the start, the Oscar-winning director admitted that it was not the case, saying that she never makes a film "where the ending is what [she] wrote:"

"No. I have never made a film where the ending is what I wrote! You find it in the edit. Editing is a third of the filmmaking process, and when you show it to people, that's when you find the ending."

Zhao continued by confirming that there is an alternate ending "that is really bleak:"

"I don't think I've made a single film where the opening and ending stay the same as the script, just because the scenes are fluid as we shoot. And we actually had another ending that is really bleak. Bleak. I didn't hate it, because I'm used to films that are more melancholy. But I don't think it went down well with audiences."

Zhao gave more details about the much darker alternate ending, revealing that the film ends with "everybody back on the ship, minds erased and just going on to another planet:"

"It used to end with everybody back on the ship, minds erased and just going on to another planet, like The Twilight Zone. I remember when it goes to black, everyone was like, 'I don't know what to do.' And also, it's the MCU, and you want to be excited for what's next."

The veteran filmmaker then confirmed that the "depressing ending" also included Harry Styles' Eros, but she shared that it "didn't quite work out:"

"I can tell you why! Long story short, with that depressing ending, at some point he was going to be one of the Eternals on that ship. And that didn't quite work out."

Back in November 2021, Sprite actress Lia McHugh shared a set photo of the original team alongside Styles' Marvel character. Zhao's latest comment suggests that the image that McHugh shared was from the alternate ending scene. 

Harry Styles as Eros, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Richard Madden as Ikaris


A Darker Conclusion for the Eternals

Zhao's latest comments suggest that a full-blown reset was considered for the Eternals in their initial ending.

Many would agree that this darker take would've damaged the characters' respective journeys in the movie, especially after the director's admission that it didn't go well with test audiences. 

It would've been intriguing to see the Eternals experiencing a clean slate after everything they've been through in the film. The established bond that was featured in the movie, such as Kingo and Karun and Sersi and Dane Whitman, would've been erased altogether. 

While this darker ending could've brought back dead characters like Ajak and Gilgamesh into the fold, it also would've negated the development of characters like Ikaris and Sersi

Even though the film's original ending is a cliffhanger, it still allows fans to speculate what's next for these characters instead of being contained to a clean slate from what Zhao revealed in the interview. 

The original ending also set up the grand arrival of Harry Styles' Eros in the movie. In a way, it would've been confusing to see Eros alongside the team inside the Domo without any introduction in the film's alternate ending. 

Eternals will begin streaming on Disney+ on January 12, 2022. 

- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.