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Chloé Zhao Reveals Original ‘Eternals’ Ending and It’s a Downer

The Oscar winner discussed her Marvel movie.

Chloe Zhao

2021 saw Marvel dominate both the theatrical box office and the streaming sphere. But one of its more curious offerings was Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, an ambitious new entry into the MCU. Though the film was visually stunning, it was hampered by a muddled plot and its lack of connection to the other major players in the MCU. While the film grossed $400 million worldwide, it received mixed reviews and a 47 percent critic’s rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, it made for one of the more original and daring entries into the MCU.

In a new interview with Empire Magazine, Zhao discussed the film’s original ending. Eternals ended with Sersi and the rest of the Eternals preventing the Emergence, and turning the new Celestial Tiamut into marble, saving the planet. But Zhao’s vision was originally something much darker.

Zaho said, “I have never made a film where the ending is what I wrote! You find it in the edit. Editing is a third of the filmmaking process, and when you show it to people, that’s when you find the ending. I don’t think I’ve made a single film where the opening and ending stay the same as the script, just because the scenes are fluid as we shoot. And we actually had another ending that is really bleak. Bleak. I didn’t hate it, because I’m used to films that are more melancholy. But I don’t think it went down well with audiences.”

She elaborated, “It used to end with everybody back on the ship, minds erased and just going on to another planet, like The Twilight Zone. I remember when it goes to black, everyone was like, “I don’t know what to do.” And also, it’s the MCU, and you want to be excited for what’s next.”

Naturally, Marvel likely didn’t want the film to end with Earth being destroyed, despite the introduction of the multiverse in Loki and Spider-Man: No Way Home. For one, the planet’ destruction is the downer of all downer endings. But it also destroys all the world-building we’ve seen throughout the MCU. Not to mention, it’s a bitter pill to swallow considering we just watched the Avengers defeat Thanos and save the world. After all, that massive plot point gets undermined when a space God seed hatches and obliterates the planet.

There is an interesting world to explore with Zhao’s original ending…maybe the reveal that the Eternals existed on a different Earth. I’m curious to see how and if the Eternals will be integrated with the rest of the MCU. The film made money but was not the runaway success that No Way Home was. And tonally, Eternals feels like a wholly different universe from the other players in the MCU.

So far, there are no plans for a sequel, although that doesn’t mean the Eternals won’t show up in future films. Screenwriters Ryan and Kaz Firpo have expressed interest in a prequel series for Disney+, joking that they wanted to “Go back and do a Kingo episode in 1890s Mumbai where he is juggling his life as a movie star, dealing with Gandhi’s peaceful dissolution of the British empire in India,” says Kaz Firpo. “There’s an episode with Thena where she’s in Greece. I would love to make that show.”

(via Empire Magazine, image: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.