Chloé Zhao Reveals How Denis Villeneuve Helped With Eternals

For "Eternals" director Chloé Zhao, it wasn't just Denis Villeneuve's movies that were useful for providing stills when she pitched Marvel Studios. Villeneuve himself was part of her support system, and she looked to his film "Dune" for guidance as she was shooting "Eternals" for IMAX.

"Dune" and "Eternals" were originally scheduled to hit theaters two weeks apart from each other in November 2020. Both of them had their release dates shuffled due to the pandemic, but they ultimately landed back two weeks apart from each other in October and November 2021. 

We heard back in August of this year that Zhao had seen "Dune" early. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she explains how she sought out Villeneuve's advice and drew strength from him as a friend and fellow filmmaker. She says:

"I gotta say that I'm a big fan of Denis; he's a friend. We got pushed and shifted because of the pandemic. We got pulled apart and then now we're back together again at the same time. Even when I was working on IMAX for Eternals, I asked him if it was okay for me to watch Dune. I knew he did incredible things in IMAX, so I knew I could learn from him. He was so generous; he was like, 'Yes.' He also gave me other references to look at. 

"So I actually find a lot of strength in our films coming out at the same time and to have a colleague who I respect and love and to be able to go through this together and to hug each other at Venice [International Film Festival] when Dune came out. He even sent me a message last night, so it all feels very empowering."

Flying Close to the Sun (and the Last Son of Krypton)

Villeneuve is a modern master when it comes to science fiction on film, but as our own Hoai-Tran Bui wrote in her review of "Eternals" (in a quote lifted from "I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson"), the finished movie is "kind of a cosmic gumbo." "Eternals" blends other influences outside of sci-fi and Marvel Comics; some of those influences even come from the Distinguished Competition, DC Comics.

Zhao's discussion with THR also touches on how "Eternals" references Superman. It's not just the superpowers that Ikaris (Richard Madden) displays, his ability to shoot "laser beams out of his eyes." "Eternals" outright name-drops the Man of Steel; pre-release clips have shown a kid in the movie pointing at Ikaris and saying, "That's Superman!" Zhao explained:

"For me, any mention of anything in this film is actually my way to pay tribute to characters that have influenced us and that we love so much. Eternals are relatively new, so they are playing archetypes of myths. The mythology of Superman — and what the comics and each of the filmmakers have brought to Superman — are modern interpretations of myths that have existed throughout human history."

It's worth noting here that the name Ikaris alludes to Icarus, the Greek mythological figure, who flew too close to the sun and had the wax in his homemade wings melted. With "Eternals" having earned the dubious distinction of being the first MCU film with a "Rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes, it may be that it will share the fate of Icarus. However, you can see it and judge for yourself as the film opens exclusively in theaters this weekend.