Marvel Studios is known for plucking the perfect filmmakers to bring their always-expanding universe to life. While other studios' big budget blockbusters usually bring over established action directors to helm their films, Marvel Studios looks to lesser-noticed areas for their talent.
For Marvel's upcoming epic, Eternals, the studio brought on independent film writer and director Chloé Zhao, known for critically acclaimed films like The Rider, and Zhao was apparently able to sneak a small MCU reference into her latest low-budget feature film.
Chloé Zhao's most recent film, Nomadland, premiered today at the Venice Film Festival, where it looks like the director was able to reference her Marvel future with a small nod to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
According to Fandango editor Erik Davis, a scene from Nomadland includes a lingering shot of a movie theater marquee that includes a title for a very familiar Marvel film. Davis tweeted:
There’s also what appears to be a quick Marvel reference in #Nomadland. At one point McDormand’s character strolls by a theater w/ a bright, beautiful marquee & a lone film playing: The Avengers. The camera lingers on the marquee, then moves on. A nod to Zhao’s next journey?— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) September 12, 2020
WHAT THIS MEANS
While a reference like this could be seen as a simple nod from a fan, Nomadland began filming in late 2018, after Zhao had already been hired for Eternals on September 2018. The director was already attached to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and so the inclusion of this Avengers marquee has more meaning than a simple shout out.
The film Nomadland follows a character who drops everything after her small rural town suffers from an economic collapse. The protagonist commits to a nomad lifestyle, slowly finding ways to cope and move on through the experience of traveling alone. It's a film about stumbling through searching for your path
With Chloé Zhao lingering on a shot of an Avengers marquee, this could be a message from the director that she is also on her way through her own personal journey of fulfillment, and the MCU is her next step. Though, it could also be a reminder of just how much the director was impacted by films like The Avengers.
The Avengers was a global phenomenon, ushering in a new age in the history of cinema, while also impacting many of the people who saw it in a very personal way. Zhao's choice to call attention to this film in particular could convey that The Avengers was a turning point in her history with filmmaking, and as she continues work on Eternals, the director is undoubtedly attempting to inspire Marvel audiences in a whole new way.