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How Eternals Will Expand The Cosmic Side Of The MCU

Angelina Jolie as Thena using her powers in Marvel's Eternals
(Image credit: Marvel)

Since its earliest days, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has struck a balance between Earthbound stories and cosmic offerings. Iron Man, Spider-Man and Ant-Man patrol our recognizable surroundings, while the Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel take audiences to new heights and far away worlds. When Chloe Zhao’s Eternals opens in theaters in November, it’s expected to mirror movies like Thor and Avengers: Infinity War by blending a strong sense of Earth action with the development of the MCU’s cosmic side. 

CinemaBlend traveled to the London set of Chloe Zhao’s Eternals to get the scoop on the impending Marvel feature, and see what this unique corner of the MCU will look like on screen. And during our visit, Nate Moore, Marvel producer and the VP of Production and Development, opened up about how cosmic energy powers the Eternals, and will be visualized by Zhao in special ways. As Moore explained to us:

You see the cosmic energy particles surrounding (characters), so that bleeding edge of the sonic concussive blast that (Makkari) can use in battle makes her a bit different than what you’ve seen before. That motif of cosmic energy that encases our heroes, you'll see in everyone else’s powers. This is Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), who can create cosmic blasts from the tips of his fingers. It collects around his forearm and then gets shot out from his fingertips. And he obviously does everything with a little bit of Kingo style, so he likes to have a little bit of fun.

This use of cosmic energy and the flavor it brings to the powers of the Eternals was first brought up by Marvel Comics creator Jack Kirby, whose influence in designing the team can be seen reflected in Chloe Zhao’s feature. Moore raved about how Angelina Jolie’s character, Thena, is able to use cosmic energy to create daggers, transform them into swords, shift that into a staff, and then separate the staff into two swords. It looks like this.

Angelina Jolie as Thena

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Eternals actually makes some changes from the team’s comic book origins to make them more cosmic. As Nate Moore points out, the heroes in the books were created from mankind as a means to combat the Deviants. Moore explains:

We're actually pushing them a bit more cosmic even than they traditionally are in comics, frankly, but narratively, I think that juxtaposition is really powerful. Because the film is set on Earth, it doesn't mean the whole film takes place on Earth. It allows us to juxtapose things that are very modern day and normal to people with things like Celestials and spaceships that are super, super sci-fi without having to commit to either. I think you get the best of both worlds, and it gets to make the movie distinct from other things because it doesn't have to be just one thing.

Ah yes, spaceships. One of the coolest sets that we were able to tour when we visited London was the inside of the Eternals spaceship, a flat but massive triangle that can be seen in the trailers as it arrives on our planet. Eve Stewart, production designer on Eternals, walked us through the mammoth set and explained some of its inspirations and details, telling CinemaBlend: 

The Eternals have been on Earth for 7,000 years. So you couldn’t have (a ship made from) aluminum or steel or something. So I went for weeks to the science museum here, looked at meteors, looked at moon rocks, looked at all sorts of stuff. And then in the end, we came across -- we decided to do it as the kind of dust that you see that trail meteors. And what was really exciting is, only about three weeks ago in the press, they suddenly found stardust that arrived on a meteor that just landed. It's a very new kind of material. And it was exactly the same color. [laughs] We had a premonition!

The ship itself contains vast rooms that contain artifacts the Eternals have picked up during their travels. The highlight of the craft has to be a massive room that the crew came to know as the Bridge, a “spiritual place” where Stewart says the Eternals team comes together. 

The Eternals on the Bridge

(Image credit: Walt Disney Co.)

And in the design of the ship, the production designer found ways to connect it to the costumes of the team. And in the middle of this space rests a statue of Arishem the Judge, the leader of the Celestials, who created the Eternals. When discussing the design on Arishem, Stewart told us:

In real (life), Arishem’s size... he’s enormous. Absolutely. 200 miles high kind of thing. He just walks around planets.

This speaks to the scope of scale of Eternals, a movie that Chloe Zhao hopes will expand the concept of the types of stories that can be told in the MCU, by diverse and experimental storytellers. We’ll have more from the set this week, and Eternals will be in theaters on November 5.

Sean O'Connell

Movie junkie. Infatuated with comic-book films. ReelBlend cohost. Resident dad. Extroverted introvert. Wants to see the Snyder Cut. Managing Director at CinemaBlend.