Captain America: Civil War was a monumental film. The conflict pushed the scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a scale that had not yet been seen.
Not just where all the action took place, but also the consequences of everything––taking all of the Avengers' actions in prior movies and using that to form a new status quo with the Sokovia Accords; one which fractured the world’s heroes. Needless to say, the emotional turmoil among all of the characters was stressful. It was basically one big family fight.
That premise is quite similar to an upcoming MCU film: Chloé Zhao‘s Eternals. Not only is the scale on an immense level, but the film follows a family of people that have been around for 7,000 years; things are bound to get rocky.
Apparently, these similarities are no coincidence.
Eternals: Civil War
In a conversation with Empire, Chloé Zhao, director of the upcoming Marvel Studios film Eternals, was able to talk about the MCU film that made her a true fan of the mega franchise.
Zhao notes that "it was Civil War that pulled [her] in hardcore." While the director grew up on big blockbuster films like Star Wars, she is best known for making arthouse films such as The Rider and Nomadland. She claims that "[she doesn't] know how [she] got in the room with them."
When Zhao learned that Marvel Studios was looking for a director for Eternals, she came in with a pitch and details on how she would want to shoot it—a bold take that worked out.
She described it as "akin to stories of Greek and Roman Gods," and noted that with a group of people that have been around for 7,000 years, "[they're] gonna sometimes rub up against each other the wrong way:"
"...Akin to stories of Greek and Roman gods, who live very human lives with human traits. Rivalries, jealousies and frailties... when you've been around for as long as they've been around, and had to deal with each other for that amount of time, you're gonna sometimes rub up against each other the wrong way."
The director notes that "they were already on a path towards the sort of movie [she] was proposing:"
"They were already on a path towards the sort of movie I was proposing... I do feel like Marvel has explored moral ambiguity quite a lot with movies like Civil War and Endgame. To many people, Thanos was right. I loved the idea of continuing to challenge the straightforward morality we're used to in the superhero genre... I love all that."
Potentially compromising the creative freedom of the arthouse world for Marvel didn't trouble her much.
The worlds of blockbuster and arthouse are two very different worlds, but the compromises of switching over to how Marvel Studios functions didn't bother her, as Zhao confidently declared that "[she is] the only who could tell that story:"
"I always knew if I were to step into a world where I was going to be working with a much larger team, it'd have to be because I'm the only person who could tell that story... there's a reason why I'm doing this film, because of what I can offer."
Eternals, The Family Feud
One of the best parts about Captain America: Civil War was not only all of the emotional turmoil that the heroes were going through but how no one was absolutely correct. It played with the ethical gray area, something that, if Chloé Zhao is leaning into, could make Eternals an immensely interesting piece of the MCU puzzle.
After all, the heroes from Civil War knew each other for a few years—the Eternals have nearly 7,000 years on them. The dynamics between that group have the potential of being unlike anything fans have seen yet. After all, there hasn't been a real family story within the MCU up until this point; sorry Fantastic Four.
Fans could be in for quite the treat with Eternals. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige even admitted that Zhao's pitch was among the best he had ever heard, and there is no better way to multiply the expectations for the film.
Everyone will have to wait until November 5 later this year to see if Eternals can live up to the hype.