Eternals is set to be one of the more unique films of Phase 4, being the first in the upcoming slate to be based on an entirely new set of Marvel characters. Eternals actress Angelina Jolie spoke about her co-star Barry Keoghan bringing a "strong, unique personality" to the film, indicating that the film's characters will take a new direction than has been seen in the MCU's past.
Eternals also recently underwent a facelift in regards to its title, opting to remove "The" from the film's official name. This was also accompanied by a new logo, which slightly adjusts the title's font.
Little has been seen from the film itself, but fans did get a tease of Eternals through a new poster. The image gave a silhouetted look at the team, as well as the ominous appearance of a Celestial.
Several individuals associated with Eternals have spoken about the film's diversity and the hope to normalize the characters' different identities...
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, several individuals from Eternals spoke about the film's push for diversity. This included the film's director Chloé Zhao, star Kumail Nanjiani, and President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige.
Kevin Feige spoke about the film's inclusion of an LGBTQ+ relationship and how it "was always sort of inherent in the story and the makeup of the different types of Eternals." Bryan Tyree Henry, who plays Phastos in the film, will be the first gay superhero in the MCU. Feige also spoke about the future of the MCU and how the franchise would make an effort to normalize this kind of diversity:
"I think it is extremely well done, and I look forward to that level of inclusion in our future movies being less of a topic."
Kumail Nanjiani plays Kingo in the film, an Eternal who has gone into hiding by becoming a Bollywood star. The film is reportedly set to feature a Bollywood dance sequence that includes 50 dancers, to which Nanjiani said:
"When I walked onto the set and saw a huge group of brown people who were going to be in a Marvel movie, I felt such gratitude towards Chloé for creating the situation...The scene was full of joy."
Zhao talked about the diverse cast of the film, which spans across several cultures and disabilities. Zhao, however, wanted to reflect how the Eternals are a group of outsiders, yet you see them beyond their identities as individuals:
"I wanted it to reflect the world we live in...but also I wanted to put a cast together that feels like a group of misfits. I didn’t want the jocks. I want you to walk away at the end of the movie not thinking, 'This person is this ethnicity, that person is that nationality.' No. I want you to walk away thinking, 'That’s a family.’ You don’t think about what they represent. You see them as individuals."
WHAT THIS MEANS
From the sounds of it, Eternals is only a jumping-off point for a sustained push for diversity and representation in the MCU. The success of Black Panther proved that audiences crave to see minority groups represented on-screen, and Marvel Studios has answered this desire by continuing to bring films headlined by diverse casts.
Now, films like Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings can lead films that depict minority groups in prominent roles, thusly normalizing it to audiences. Diversity will almost become secondary, as audiences will see characters as characters, which Zhao hopes to achieve through Eternals.
Nanjiani's comments also speak to the idea of different cultures being portrayed in addition to minority groups being given the limelight. By employing diverse filmmakers, it has allowed directors like Chloé Zhao to portray different nationalities by creating situations like the Bollywood dance sequence.
Not only is ethnic and cultural diversity being represented, but it seems that Kevin Feige is also hoping to include more LGBTQ+ representation in upcoming films. LGBTQ+ representation has not been as prominent as it could be, with a deleted scene from Thor: Ragnarok alluding to Valkyrie being bisexual. However, Thor: Love and Thunder is said to explore Valkyrie's search for a queen, so it seems this sort of representation is important to Marvel going forward.
Audiences will be able to see Marvel continue to push for diversity on screen when Eternals releases in theaters on February 12, 2021.