Ending a Marvel movie is tricky. On the one hand, there has to be closure and growth for the story and characters at hand. On the other, there needs to be enough room to move forward to continue the overall franchise. Each film does its best to balance those two things, usually with post-credit scenes, and Chloé Zhao’s Eternals is no different. However, as the film was being made, the filmmaker tried an ending that didn’t quite split the middle.
If you remember, the film explains that over the course of history, Eternals go to a planet, make sure it’s safe for a Celestial birth that sacrifices the entire planet to save many others, then have their memories wiped before moving onto the next one. This time though, these Eternals save Earth from the Celestials, retain all their memories, and are forced to deal with the consequences. For part of the team, that means being whisked off to god knows where by the main Celestial, Arishem. For the others, it means traveling the galaxy looking to enlighten other Eternals to their struggle, which is where they meet Thanos’ brother, Eros.
So that’s what happens in the film. The Eternals remember and carry on with the Marvel Cinematic Universe intact. However, speaking to Empire, Zhao explained that wasn’t always the ending. “We actually had another ending that is really bleak. Bleak. I didn’t hate it, because I’m used to films that are more melancholy. But I don’t think it went down well with audiences,” she said. This ending would have given the Eternals part of the victory, and the Celestials part of the victory. “It used to end with everybody back on the ship, minds erased and just going on to another planet, like The Twilight Zone,” the Oscar-winner continues. “I remember when it goes to black, everyone was like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ And also, it’s the MCU, and you want to be excited for what’s next.” So basically Earth was saved, MCU still existed, but these key characters didn’t remember any part of it.
Zhao also explained that changing endings on her films isn’t a new occurrence. “I have never made a film where the ending is what I wrote! You find it in the edit,” she said. “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.” Yes, even in the MCU.
What do you think about this version of the ending? Would it have worked overall for Marvel? Could it possibly have been better for these characters not to remember the events so they could be sidelined? Let us know what you think. Eternals arrives on Disney+ January 12.
Wondering where our RSS feed went? You can pick the new up one here.