Eternals: Chloé Zhao On DC References And What It Means To Be Heroic

We will be talking about several aspects of the final act in Eternals which means spoilers. If you haven't seen the movie yet and don't want to be spoiled, consider this your spoiler warning, and don't look beyond this image.

14 HQ Images from Eternals Showcases the Entire Cast
(L-R): Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Sersi (Gemma Chan), and Sprite (Lia McHugh) in Marvel Studios' ETERNALS. Photo by Sophie Mutevelia. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

It was somewhat surprising to many comic book fans that Eternals didn't just mention one character from the DC universe, but two of them. Phastos' son compared Ikaris to Superman, and Harish Patel playing Karun Patel is compared to Alfred from Batman. While the "Marvel vs. DC" thing has always been more with the fans than with the studios, it still really surprised people to hear it. Empire recently sat down with director and writer Chloé Zhao and asked her where that reference came from.

I take responsibility for that. I just believe we all should live in one big happy family. And also, you know, we can talk about the elephant in the room – which is that Ikaris [Madden] reminds people of Superman. There are many brilliant filmmakers who've brought Superman to the screen in their own modern interpretation of this beloved mythology that exists in many cultures. So I just felt it's great to pay tribute, it's great to acknowledge these iconic interpretations of Superman. In Eternals, Gilgamesh [Lee], watches his movies while he's looking after Thena [Jolie]. You will see that there's going to be a deleted scene where he talks about another film that's gonna make you smile. And he loves Batman movies.

In the movie's final fight, we see the Eternals fighting against each other because they are more or less splintered down two sides. However, there is a third side that Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) is on. He agrees with Ikaris that the Celestial should be born at the sacrifice of Earth and all of the people on it, but he also refuses to fight against his family. One almost expected him to turn up and definitively take a side by the end, but he never did, and we find out at the end of the movie that the other Eternals don't hold his reluctance not to act against him. Zhao was asked about the decision to keep Kingo from the fight, and she explained that it is about defining what exactly is heroic.

We talked a lot about – what does it mean to be heroic? I feel we're entering a revisionist period for this genre. I feel the desire from the studios and from the audience. There's something about celebrating feminine strength, both in men and women in this film, that was very important for us. I think Sersi [Chan] is the bravest of all, because no matter how much someone wronged her, she's able to forgive them, to show them love instead of punch them in the face. She stays open and vulnerable, and that actually brought down the strongest, most powerful being.

In the end, Kingo's lack of action ended up being enough to still get him in trouble with Arishem because he was still taken from Earth with Sersi and Phastos even though he didn't fight and actually supported the birth of the Celestial. The fact that no one seemed to hold it against him, in the end, was the thing that really seemed bolder than anything. The most logical thing would be for Sprite and Kingo to be ostracized for what they did or didn't do, but Sersi still gives Sprite her humanity, and no one seems to hold it against Kingo. Perhaps his decision not to fight in any capacity will be addressed the next time we see the Eternals.

Marvel Studios' "Eternals" follows a group of heroes from beyond the stars who had protected the Earth since the dawn of man. When monstrous creatures called the Deviants, long thought lost to history, mysteriously return, the Eternals are forced to reunite in order to defend humanity once again.

Eternals, directed by Academy Award Winning director Chloé Zhao, and stars Gemma Chan as humankind-loving Sersi, Richard Madden as the all-powerful Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as cosmic-powered Kingo, Lia McHugh as the eternally young, old-soul Sprite, Brian Tyree Henry as the intelligent inventor Phastos, Lauren Ridloff as the super-fast Makkari, Barry Keoghan as aloof loner Druig, Don Lee as the powerful Gilgamesh, with Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, with Salma Hayek as the wise and spiritual leader Ajak, and Angelina Jolie as the fierce warrior Thena. It was released in theaters on November 5, 2021.

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About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, and comics. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on Twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on Instagram.
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