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Chloe Zhao opens up about the negative response to her Marvel Studios superhero movie Eternals

The superhero movie Eternals is considered the first ‘misfire’ ever for Marvel Studios and their wide-ranging Marvel Cinematic Universe, with director Chloe Zhao speaking out about the negative response.

Eternals was the first of the MCU’s 26 movies to earn a ‘rotten’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a lowly 47% rating from the RT critics, and its $168.4 million domestic gross the second worst, behind the second-ever MCU film, 2008’s The Incredible Hulk ($134.8 million).

Zhao, who was coming off a Best Picture win for her film Nomadland, spoke about the divisive reaction to the film for the first time in an interview with Empire, revealing that she, ‘definitely felt it coming.’ 

Speaking out: The superhero movie Eternals is considered the first ‘misfire’ ever for Marvel Studios and their wide-ranging Marvel Cinematic Universe, with director Chloe Zhao speaking out about the negative response

Rotten: Eternals was the first of the MCU's 26 movies to earn a 'rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a lowly 47% rating from the RT critics, and its $168.4 million domestic gross the second worst, behind the second-ever MCU film, 2008's The Incredible Hulk ($134.8 million)

Rotten: Eternals was the first of the MCU’s 26 movies to earn a ‘rotten’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a lowly 47% rating from the RT critics, and its $168.4 million domestic gross the second worst, behind the second-ever MCU film, 2008’s The Incredible Hulk ($134.8 million)

Eternals was one of several movies whose release was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the film originally set for release on November 6, 2020. 

It was ultimately delayed to February 12, 2021 (where Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings wound up opening) and then to November 5, when it opened in theaters.

Zhao revealed that the subject matter of the film – along with its release in the midst of a global pandemic – likely resulted in the negative response, which she was expecting. 

COVID: Eternals was one of several movies whose release was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the film originally set for release on November 6, 2020

COVID: Eternals was one of several movies whose release was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the film originally set for release on November 6, 2020

Expecting: Zhao revealed that the subject matter of the film - along with its release in the midst of a global pandemic - likely resulted in the negative response, which she was expecting

Expecting: Zhao revealed that the subject matter of the film – along with its release in the midst of a global pandemic – likely resulted in the negative response, which she was expecting

‘Eternals was planned to be released soon after (Avengers) Endgame, and not at a time when everyone is having an existential crisis,’ the director said.

‘The film itself is about existential crisis, both for humanity and God. So I think we definitely felt it was coming,’ she added.

She said she was aware of the mixed reviews, but simply brushed them off,  stating, ‘I think the need for consensus is a hindrance for any authentic creative process.’

Crisis: 'Eternals was planned to be released soon after (Avengers) Endgame, and not at a time when everyone is having an existential crisis,' the director said

Crisis: ‘Eternals was planned to be released soon after (Avengers) Endgame, and not at a time when everyone is having an existential crisis,’ the director said

Reviews: She said she was aware of the mixed reviews, but simply brushed them off, stating, 'I think the need for consensus is a hindrance for any authentic creative process'

Reviews: She said she was aware of the mixed reviews, but simply brushed them off, stating, ‘I think the need for consensus is a hindrance for any authentic creative process’

‘Just like it’s a hindrance for living an authentic life as a person. I have been on the receiving end of somewhat consensus, and divisiveness about my work,’ she added.

‘Neither of them has any real influence on me as an artist, because every time I’m lucky enough to create, I learn from the process. From what I’ve succeeded, and what I’ve failed,’ the director added.

‘But that learning process is a very intimate affair. Anything beyond that, for me, it’s just a part of the ecosystem that exists because of the nature of the industry we’re in. Like a flower or a rock, I acknowledge and appreciate their presence. But that’s as far as it goes,’ she said of the reviews.

Hindrance: She said she was aware of the mixed reviews, but simply brushed them off, stating, 'I think the need for consensus is a hindrance for any authentic creative process'

Hindrance: She said she was aware of the mixed reviews, but simply brushed them off, stating, ‘I think the need for consensus is a hindrance for any authentic creative process’

No influence: 'Neither of them has any real influence on me as an artist, because every time I’m lucky enough to create, I learn from the process. From what I’ve succeeded, and what I’ve failed,' the director added

No influence: ‘Neither of them has any real influence on me as an artist, because every time I’m lucky enough to create, I learn from the process. From what I’ve succeeded, and what I’ve failed,’ the director added

She added that she added a layer of her indie filmmaking sensibilities into the $200 million big-budget blockbuster, which she acknowledged made some uncomfortable.

‘The truth is that nobody is one layer. In this case, we truly stepped out of the box that I think the world put us in, and met in the middle because of our shared interests,’ she said. 

‘And by truly doing that, it made a lot of people uncomfortable on both sides. But there are also people who are more comfortable with the order of their world [being] disturbed. And then they look at our love-child and go, “Oh! This touches different sides of me!’ I like that,’ she added. 

‘So I completely understand the divisiveness coming from critics and the fans. Because when you take this to extremes that are seen as opposition – the world I come from and the world of Marvel, that has been divided in a way that’s so unfair and unfortunate – and to merge the way we did, I actually see the reaction as a testament to how much we had merged with each other; how uncomfortable that might make people feel,’ Zhao stated.

Cheers: She added that she added a layer of her indie filmmaking sensibilities into the $200 million big-budget blockbuster, which she acknowledged made some uncomfortable

Cheers: She added that she added a layer of her indie filmmaking sensibilities into the $200 million big-budget blockbuster, which she acknowledged made some uncomfortable

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