The Eternals red carpet premiere happened earlier this week, and Marvel’s most ambitious MCU movie of the year is off to a great start. The film should beat the opening weekends of Black Widow and Shang-Chi, which did very well despite the pandemic. But Eternals is unlike anything Marvel has done so far in terms of origin stories.
It’s a story that’s supposed to introduce 10 heroes who have roamed the planet for 7,000 years, mainly staying out of sight. And it’s a story that will explain the MCU’s Eternals mythology, going back in time far beyond the dawn of the Avengers. Finally, the highly acclaimed director Cholé Zhao, the big winner at this year’s Oscars, helms the story. With all that in mind, it’s not surprising that we’re already seeing talk of an Eternals sequel.
Why Eternals is so complicated
Walk out of the theater after Iron Man, and you wanted a sequel, not knowing how massive Marvel’s MCU plan was or how amazing the journey to Endgame would be. The same goes for most MCU movies that followed it. You’ll want a sequel for Guardians of the Galaxy, too, a film that introduces a different team of superheroes. But after all these years of Marvel stories, you’re already trained to expect sequels and crossovers featuring the characters you’ve just discovered in an origin story.
Perhaps the most challenging thing for Marvel is to make the audience care about all 10 of the Eternals in this movie at once. Win over the audience and the sequel is sealed, assuming a sequel is even on the board.
We’ve got 10 great actors playing 10 different superheroes. We have to learn their names, powers, and stories before we can make sense of the Eternals story.
That’s probably why Marvel has been releasing all those Eternals clips in recent weeks, so we have time to meet the various Eternals. The movie is over 2 hours and 30 minutes long because the story is so complex. And we have to move between various points in time to understand the Eternals and the story. But unlike other origin stories where a superhero gets plenty of screen time, there’s only so much time each of them can get.
With all that in mind, it’s easy to see why a sequel might be challenging for a project like Eternals. Especially considering how busy Marvel’s MCU Phase 4 will get. That’s what you’d think before watching the movie. It all changes once you see it, though. Because the film does leave room for a sequel. That’s according to Zhao’s comments after the Eternals premiere.
The Eternals sequel questions
Zhao spoke to The Playlist about her debut Marvel movie, and that’s where she tackled a question about a potential Eternals sequel. She explained that she would come back to do another Eternals movie “in a second”:
What I loved about making this film is that it tied so close to the origin of the MCU is also going to have a big repercussion moving MCU forward. With those two as secured, we get to play and do whatever we want and make a strong standalone film and leave everything on the table. I would be back in a second working with the team at Marvel for sure. So we’ll see.
This isn’t the first time we have heard that Eternals will have significant repercussions on the MCU. The more Marvel says it, the more exciting it is. Also, it’s important to note that Zhao isn’t just the film’s director. She pitched the story to Kevin Feige & Co., and she gets a screenplay credit as well. She explained in the same interview how she landed the job:
I think I started the pitch with a picture of a macro picture of sand. If you Google “macro picture of sand”, it’s pretty incredible. And then I started citing a poem by William Blake. I think that might be it, and that poem summed up my vision for the film, especially visually. And I think that really intrigued him.
So Zhao shaped the Eternals story more than many other MCU directors did with their projects. She must have an idea of what chords the movie needed to strike for the MCU’s future and how to set the finale up so that a sequel is always possible.
The big spoilers
If you have read all the Eternals spoilers, you already know what happens in the film and how it ends. That big plot leak that surfaced online months ago. And it’s enough to tell you that an Eternals sequel is a very real possibility. Especially now that a certain Eternals cameo is no longer just a rumor.
Eternals opens on November 5th. While you wait to see the much bigger picture of MCU mythology, here’s how to enjoy all the current Marvel movies in the proper order.