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The Major Way Henry Cavill's Man Of Steel Influenced Marvel's Eternals

Henry Cavill in Man of Steel
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Marvel Studios’ Eternals introduces some powerful new characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The team of cosmic beings includes heavy hitters like Angelina Jolie’s Thena and Don Lee’s Gilgamesh. Of course, one character that seems to have delighted audiences with his powers is Ikaris, played by Game of Thrones alum Richard Madden. His vast abilities have even caused some to compare him to Henry Cavill’s Superman from Man of Steel. And according to director Chloé Zhao, that’s not actually a coincidence, as the film rubbed off on her in a major way.

Like many directors, Chloé Zhao is a massive movie fan, having studied different forms of filmmaking. It should come as no surprise that she’s a particularly big fan of superhero movies, and she’s seen quite a few of them. That includes Zack Snyder’s 2013 take on the last son of Krypton. During a recent interview, when she was asked if the iconic DC Comics character influenced her approach to Ikaris, she shared some keen thoughts: 

You say it, not me! Superman is the Übermensch, the ultimate man, the superman, a concept that exists in all cultures. Of all modern interpretations of Superman, this is Zack Snyder's with Man Of Steel which inspired me the most because he approached this myth in an authentic and very real way. I remember thinking it was Superman by Terrence Malick when I saw the trailer. This film left a strong impression on me. But Ikaris is of course our own take on Superman.

When you really think about it, the director’s comments to French entertainment news outlet jeuxactu.com make a lot of sense. Ikaris and Superman may not be exactly the same, but they are alike in key ways. Both have similar abilities (super strength, flight, heat vision/energy beams, etc.). They’re also extraterrestrial figures who take their duties on earth very seriously. And of course, despite the fact that they’re god-like beings, they both retain a sense of humanity. This is nicely played out by the actors who portray them, of course. 

What’s also cool is that Chloé Zhao actually gets somewhat meta about this comparison in Eternals itself. By now, some have probably seen the TV spot in which Ikaris is referred to as Superman, though he astutely points out that he doesn’t wear a cape. But with his powers, he definitely fits the bill, and you can get a taste of the character’s massive feats by checking out the trailer below:

Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel proved to be a polarizing piece of work when it first hit theaters in 2013. Some argued that the director broke new ground with his take on Clark Kent’s origins by showing a more realistic take on his upbringing and his first encounter with mankind. Others believed that the movie’s tone was too dark and that it lacked character development. Though people have warmed up to the film somewhat over the past few years, its merits are still heavily debated.

Still, the fact that Chloé Zhao referenced the film for her own work is a testament to the movie’s legacy. Personally, I’d now be curious to hear Zack Snyder’s thoughts on Zhao’s new superhero flick. 

But you can check out the Oscar winner’s work for yourself by seeing Eternals in theaters now. And if you’d like to revisit or watch Man of Steel for the first time, you can do so by streaming it on HBO Max.

Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.