Set over 7000 years and starring almost a dozen new heroes, it’s no surprise making Marvel Studios’ Eternals was an epic task. The film is now on Blu-ray and to celebrate, Disney dropped a surprise episode of their fun Disney+ series Assembled, documenting huge parts of the process. Usually, these Assembled episodes, which are just making of documentaries, have been focused on the Disney+ shows like WandaVision, Loki, or Hawkeye. But now it dives into one of Marvel’s biggest movies yet and we’ve pulled out the most interesting, surprising, highlights.
It’s going to change everything.
In the documentary, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige says Eternals will “Redefine the cinematic universe entirely.” Later, director Chloé Zhao, said that she geeks out anytime she thinks about how far-reaching this movie will be for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that she’s the one who got to make it. What do these claims mean? We have no idea. But they’re very tantalizing.
It began with a poem.
Chloé Zhao says that when she went into Marvel Studios to pitch her idea for Eternals, she began with a poem by William Blake called “Auguries of Innocence.” No images, no context, just her reciting the first four lines of the poem which are as follows: “To see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, And Eternity in an hour.” To her, that was what she wanted the movie to be. It worked.
Before writing, there was research
Before starting the script for Eternals, writers Ryan and Kaz Firpo were given research materials by Marvel. 800 pages of research materials to be exact, which included basically everything every written with the Eternals in it. It took them 4-5 weeks to pour over it all and despite the more recent Neil Gaiman run of Eternals being more popular, their story drew most of its inspiration from the original Jack Kirby comics.
We’ve seen the Celestials Before
This won’t be a huge surprise to everyone, but it is a nice tie in. Though Eternals is the first time in the MCU that it’s defined who the Celestials really are, what they do, and their role in the galaxy, it’s not the first time we’ve seen one. Knowhere, the place the Guardians of the Galaxy first visit in their first film to meet The Collector, exists inside the head of a fallen Celestial, and we see glimpses of them during the Collector’s explanation of the Infinity Stones’ powers. Marvel knew they’d come back to the powerful beings years ago.
For a few scenes in Eternals, Salma Hayek’s character Ajak has to ride a horse. However, in real life, Hayek had an accident with a horse several years ago and hasn’t been on one since for traumatic reasons. So she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do the horse scenes in Eternals. When she did though, she found it cathartic and that helped her dive even further into the character.
One Temple to Rule the All
Production designer Eve Stewart build over 130 sets for Eternals but one, in particular, helped inform all the rest. It was the Aztec temple of Teotihuacan (which we see Barry Keoghan’s Druig walk down in the film). While researching it, Stewart found out that local legends believe that the temple was built by Gods or aliens for the people who lived there. That idea of people believing this structure was from beyond reality began to influence her approach to designing not just all of the other sets but costumes and the spaceship too. Speaking of which...
The ship was crucial
The Eternals ship, a giant flying triangle called the Domo, was a huge challenge to create. Most spaceships are from the future. But this one is from the far, far, past, so the production team didn’t want it to look look like other ships. Production designer Eve Stewart and director Chloé Zhao researched ancient geometry, religions, and more to finally settle on something sort of logical but also meaningful. Which, again, had a trickle-down effect on other designs in the film.
The costumes brought people to tears
Most of the actors in the documentary say that putting on their supersuit made them cry. And we see why. Each one is handmade, multilayered, and painted by up to eight people at once. Sprite’s costume is the most elaborate at 18 total pieces, while several of the others are only five or six pieces. Each color and design was specific to the character’s personality and that’s why everyone reacted so personally.
No one was more touched than Bryan Tyree Henry, though. The Phastos actor wouldn’t look at himself in the mirror as he was being fit because he was a little self-conscious about how he’d look at an MCU hero. When he did see himself, he screamed and asked everyone who helped make the costume to come in the room. He thanked them for letting a black kid from North Carolina believe he could be a superhero.
Lots of London
Much is made in the documentary about how director Chloé Zhao wanted to shoot as much as possible on location—and we find out that most of those locations are actually around London. Producer Nate Moore calls it their “swiss army knife,” because parts of the area could double for not just cities, but different climates, and even the Amazon jungle.
As for the more exotic locations—like the beach scenes—those were, unsurprisingly, not shot around London, and were filmed on-location in the Canary Islands.
A different musical approach.
When it comes to writing music for a movie, you’d expect different characters to have different themes. However, in Eternals, Zhao reveals that composer Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones) instead made themes for emotional states rather than characters, allowing the soundtrack to work in different ways across the vast cast of Eternals—and unite them in a way that was unique and powerful.
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