Eternals Director Chloé Zhao Drew Inspiration From The Tree Of Life, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar

The director behind Marvel's "Eternals," Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao, had revealed some of the movies that inspired the upcoming superhero space epic. The list includes films from notable auteurs as Terrence Malick and Stanley Kubrick, as well as modern masters such as Denis Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan. We could be in for a unique ride, Marvel fans.

Zhao recently spoke with the folks at Fandango as tickets for "Eternals" went on sale. During the conversation, the "Nomadland" filmmaker spoke about the movies that influenced her entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Zhao said the following:

"I would say I pay tribute to many films and filmmakers that had great influence on me in this movie. It becomes fanfare for me [laughs]...I try to let them inspire me in different parts of the movie because the film is so diverse, visually. I could do a lot of different things. Particularly with the team at Marvel — our visual effects team, the action units, the design teams — we watched [Terrence] Malick films, particularly 'The Tree of Life' and 'The New World.' We watched 'The Revenant' a lot, and 'Interstellar' a lot. We watched 'Blade Runner 2049' and a film called 'Samsara.' We watched that a lot. Obviously '2001: A Space Odyssey' was very important, too. So, these were the films we had on repeat, and of course, there's many other things in my life that I've watched that snuck into it."

This is, to say the least of it, an impressive list of influences. We're looking at some of the most respected sci-fi movies of all time, and some of the most acclaimed movies in recent history. Though Zhao did, herself, recently won an Oscar for Best Director and "Nomadland" won Best Picture. It sounds like she's really trying to bring that same energy to the MCU.

The Unique Challenge Facing Eternals

Aside from being influenced by some of the all-time cinematic greats, "Eternals" faces some unique challenges. For one, it's not a property too many outside of hardcore comic book readers are familiar with. For another, the story spans 7,000 years. Zhao also spoke a bit about that, and how Marvel works with distinct filmmakers to bring distinct visions to life.

"Well, I think Marvel Studios has always worked with filmmakers [who have] very distinct voices, and that's why the films are different. But I think for this specific movie, what drew me to this movie and why they hired me, I think, is that the visual experience for this film must feel immersive enough for the audience to believe that these superhero characters have walked the earth for 7,000 years. So, to do that, there's what I like to call an anthropological way of capturing things. The cameras are very grounded, and the movements are very natural. Shots are longer — we use wide angle lenses, and deep focus. Very similar to the thing you and I did together for Nomadland... it's about giving the audience the space and the time to be able to explore what's within the frame, and therefore come to their own conclusion of the relationship between the characters and the space they're in."

The stacked cast includes Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, and Kit Harrington.

Marvel's "Eternals" hits theaters on November 5, 2021.

Marvel Studios' Eternals features an exciting new team of Super Heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind's most ancient enemy, the Deviants.