The Key Similarity Between Chloé Zhao’s Eternals And Nomadland, According To Marvel Producer

Frances McDormand in Nomadland and Richard Madden in Eternals
(Image credit: searchlight, marvel)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe entered some brand new territory last week with the release of Chloé Zhao’s Eternals. Zhao wasn’t the most obvious choice to helm a big, action-packed Marvel blockbuster, having cut her teeth on indie flicks like The Rider and the multi-Oscar winning spectacle Nomadland. However, some recent comments from an Eternals producer drew clear parallels between the MCU’s newest release and Frances McDormand’s vagabond tale.

While CGI, massive budgets, and otherworldly creatures like Eternals’ cosmic Celestials and Deviants may be unfamiliar additions to Chloé Zhao’s work, what remains the same is the heartfelt themes at play. As producer Nate Moore explained:

Chloé’s interested in telling stories about outsiders who find themselves adrift in new worlds. Nomadland and Eternals both share that DNA. Nomadland doesn’t have the same bells and whistles as Eternals, but it has the same thematic resonance. What it does have is a filmmaker who now boasts major awards clout. This is definitely a new one for all of us. ‘From the Academy Award-winning director of…’ isn’t a phrase you’re used to hearing before Marvel movies.

It’s easy to see how Nate Moore made such a comparison in his recent comments to Empire. Eternals sees a group of immortals who have lived on Earth for centuries, protecting humans and keeping their true identities relatively secret. Once some major events turn their world upside down, they set out on an adventure that takes them all over the world. It’s fair to say that the Eternals become somewhat nomadic themselves.

Thematic resonance isn’t the only thing Eternals and Nomadland have in common, though, as Zhao has brought her trademark visual style to the MCU that includes brilliant wide shots of gorgeous landscapes, and an emphasis on natural lighting that helps to keep the picturesque film grounded. Though while Eternals has been praised for said visuals, the reaction, in general, hasn’t been overwhelmingly positive.

At the time of this writing, Eternals has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of any film in the MCU with 47%. It’s not all bad news, though, as the audience score is significantly higher with a solid 80%, and after opening weekend Marvel and Disney are claiming yet another box office victory. Meanwhile, our very own Eric Eisenberg reviewed the film with a middling rating of 3 out of 5. Given Nomadland's universal acclaim, this mixed bag of reactions is new for Zhao.

As for Nate Moore’s comments implying Eternals boasting a director with major awards clout, this isn’t necessarily a "new idea." 2011’s Thor was helmed by five-time Academy Award nominee and legendary Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh, whereas Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming Thor: Love And Thunder are written and directed by Academy Award winner Taika Waititi. Actually, come think of it, Thor seems to be getting the most star-studded MCU treatment when it comes to those at the helm… but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, while Eternals brings a ton of new elements to the MCU table, Oscar clout is not one of them. 

You can see Eternals in theaters right now, while Nomadland is available with a Hulu subscription and for rent on Prime Video. The MCU’s next installment, Spider-Man: No Way Home, comes our way on December 17. As for what's coming in the rest of Marvel’s Phase Four and beyond, we have you covered, as well. 

Jeff McCobb
Senior Video Producer

Jeff is a film buff who is ridden with gratitude that he gets to spout opinions about them for a living. He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he spends his time complaining about Los Angeles.