‘Nomadland’ director Chloe Zhao appears to have been able to maintain her signature style on the MCU film.


A very real thing that could happen this year is that Chloe Zhao could become only the second female director in history to win the Best Director Oscar, and potentially even score a Best Picture win too, and then a few months later Marvel will release a brand new MCU movie from the same director. Zhao, who made waves with her 2017 film The Rider, is currently in the thick of the awards race with her critically acclaimed drama Nomadland, but she’s also the director of Marvel’s star-studded cosmic adventure Eternals.

The cast of Eternals includes Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Gemma Chan, Brian Tyree Henry, and Kit Harington and the story revolves around beings who have hidden themselves from humanity for thousands of years. One of the big questions with regards to Eternals has been how Zhao’s signature naturalistic style might or might not take hold in a big Marvel movie. She’s known for using a lot of natural light and shooting on location for her films, whereas most Marvel movies are shot on soundstages. But as it turns out, it sounds like Zhao was very much able to be true to herself even while making a film that’s 10x bigger than anything she’s done before.

Speaking with Variety, Hayek revealed that Eternals is shot completely differently from all the other Marvel movies, adding that Zhao was able to shoot on location for much of the film instead of using a soundstage with CG backgrounds:

“It has a completely different DNA from the [other Marvel movies]. It’s shot different than all the other ones. It’s in real locations and they found some crazy extraterrestrial-looking locations. I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about what they do with the camera, but… it’s not mostly done in post. The cinematography is incredible.”

Chloe Zhao Nomadland Set Image
Image via Searchlight Pictures

The cinematographer on Eternals is Ben Davis, who knows his way around the MCU having also shot Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel but whose resume also includes films like Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri and Kick-Ass. But Zhao was able to bring her own frequent cinematographer Joshua James Richards (who also may win an Oscar this year) on the film as the camera operator, and no doubt his involvement helped keep Zhao’s style intact.

We still have seen zero stills or footage from Eternals and I kind of like it that way. Marvel is keeping this one close to the chest for a very good reason, it seems. And if any film’s pedigree points to potential for additional Oscar recognition after Black Panther broke into the Best Picture category, it’s Eternals.

All will be revealed in due time. Eternals is currently set to be released in theaters on November 5, 2021.

Check out our complete rundown of every upcoming Marvel movie.

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