Marvel’s Kevin Feige on Eternals: ‘We Wanted To Make a Bold New Step’

Credit: Marvel Studios

When Marvel Studios was working on Guardians of the Galaxy, it was not a household name yet, and many were wondering if the film would resonate with the masses. It was released in theaters and grossed over $772 million worldwide at the box office, and audiences would remember the names of Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Gamora and Star-Lord. Marvel Studios is hoping to do the same with Eternals, the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that follows powerful beings who have lived for thousands of years on Earth.

Producer Nate Moore had a vision for what the movie could be, and Director Chloé Zhao came in to pitch her idea to Marvel Studios including studio head Kevin Feige. It was a new step for them that brought in different ideas including Jack Kirby’s source material.

“It was in a post-Infinity saga world, we wanted to make a bold new step and say you don’t know everything about the universe yet and that there are these 10 spectacular heroes who you haven’t met who’ve been here the whole time,” Feige said of the Eternals superheroes during the global press conference.

Don Lee, Richard Madden and director Chloé Zhao. Photo by Sophie Mutevelian/Marvel Studios

During the first meeting with Feige, Zhao showed him a macro photo of sand and quoted a poem from historical English poet William Blake.

“I still was allowed to stay in the room, so it was really nice,” Zhao joked. “But in that poem, Blake was trying to convey that you can see the endless beauty and the meanings of the cosmos within the smallest things you can find on earth. The vision of the film was to set up, to capture that scale. Something as large as the creation of the sun and as intimate as whispers of lovers. Going on location and doing this immersive shoot and having the supportive understanding of this amazing cast was how we got here today.”

Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) and Thena (Angelina Jolie). Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Angelina Jolie plays Thena, a superhero who inspired goddesses like Athena in the film, and she was drawn to the project because she was a fan of the MCU and of Zhao.

“When they first talked to me about the story, it was the cast,” Jolie said. “It was the idea of what this family would be. And I just wanted to be a part of this family before I even knew very much about who I was gonna play. That’s one of the special things that Chloe brings to this. She’s known for bringing reality to a film, to somebody’s true self. So a lot of us were cast to bring out something from our own lives, something within ourselves, that maybe we weren’t even aware of. And then let it live and let it grow within the film. So, [Thena] is maybe the most fantastic I’ve ever played in a superhero. And yet, my children said she thought it was the most like me.”

Sersi (Gemma Chan). Photo by Sophie Mutevelian/Marvel Studios.

Gemma Chan plays Sersi, and out of all the Eternals, she is the one most in touch with humanity where she becomes a teacher. She has the power of matter transmutation, making her one of the most powerful in the team.

“Sersi is a superhero, but her powers are not the most obvious or the flashiest,” Chan said. “She’s not the best fighter, but what she does have is empathy and a real affinity for humankind and the earth. And she’s a free spirit. I loved that. One of the enjoyable things about the film was going on that journey with that character. It’s kind of her coming-of-age, even though she’s thousands of years old. She learns to trust herself and to grow into her own power. That was a really interesting thing to explore.”

Ikaris (Richard Madden) and Sersi (Gemma Chan). Photo by Sophie Mutevelian/Marvel Studios.

Richard Madden is known to many as Rob Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones, and he has been known to play lovers. In Eternals, he portrays Ikraris, a powerful being who can fly, shoot beams out of his eyes, and has superstrength.

“I’m kind of used to playing lovers often,” Madden said. “And to play someone who’s such a soldier but is completely driven by love, all his decisions are driven by love, and it’s actually him that’s wrestling with that, I’m used to characters who are very focused on their love, and that comes out. And with Ikaris, it’s the opposite of that. He’s trying to bury that love because it gets in the way of his duty and is constantly wrestling the two. And that’s what made it really interesting for me to pull out that relationship with all the characters from Sprite to Sersi.

About Eternals

Marvel Studios’ Eternals follows a group of heroes from beyond the stars who had protected the Earth since the dawn of man. When monstrous creatures called the Deviants, long thought lost to history, mysteriously return, the Eternals are forced to reunite in order to defend humanity once again.

The film stars Gemma Chan as Sersi, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Barry Keoghan as Druig, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, Salma Hayek as Ajak, and Angelina Jolie as Thena.

Chloé Zhao directs the film, and Kevin Feige and Nate Moore are the producers, with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso and Kevin de la Noy serving as executive producers. The screen story is by Ryan Firpo & Kaz Firpo, and the screenplay is by Chloé Zhao and Chloé Zhao & Patrick Burleigh and Ryan Firpo & Kaz Firpo.

Marvel Studios’ Eternals releases in U.S. theaters on Nov. 5, 2021.

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