'Eternals' Original Ending Was Way Too Dark For Marvel Fans, Chloé Zhao Says
If there was one question on audiences' minds as the theater lights came up following Eternals's second and final post-credit scene – well, other than “why isn't Harry Styles giant and purple?” – it was “what the hell just happened?”
Described as having what may be “the weirdest ending of any Marvel movie yet,” as Polygon's Susana Polo put it, the ominous voiceover-filled finale wasn't always how the film came to a close. Eternals originally had a “really bleak ending," according to director Chloé Zhao, one better suited for Men in Black or like, that one Jimmy Neutron Halloween episode with the sentient evil pizzas than the MCU.
“It used to end with everybody back on the ship, minds erased, and just going on to another planet, like The Twilight Zone," Zhao explained in a recent interview with Empire. Despite this very ‘60s callback, it seems the ending just wasn’t … Marvel-y enough. “I remember when it goes to black, everyone was like, ‘I don’t know what to do,'” she continued. "And also, it’s the MCU, and you want to be excited for what’s next.”
Although earlier in the interview, Zhao explained that she “didn’t hate” this original conclusion as she a) co-wrote the damn thing and b) is “used to films that are more melancholy,” the average non-Oscar-winning superhero fan was apparently less than enthused by the ending. “I don’t think it went down well with audiences," she said. As such, the film needed a massive overhaul and a new conclusion – all during the movie's edit phase.
While this situation may evoke images of weeping editors staring down Adobe Premiere loading screens with bloodshot eyes, panicked execs, and Marvel overlord Kevin Feige about ready to absolute lose his shit (well, more so than he usually is working with the human spoiler factory that is Tom Holland), it seems this is generally par for the course – well, at least in Zhao's creative process.
“I have never made a film where the ending is what I wrote!" she said. "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.”
So, folks, here's to Eternals – it may be highly divisive, but hey, at least it's not absurdly depressing!
Top Image: Disney/Marvel
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