As a Disney-owned company, one that has Kevin Feige firmly entrenched at the top of the hierarchy as chief creative officer, Marvel Studios is very unlikely to ever give a filmmaker complete and unfettered creative freedom over one of the brand’s blockbuster comic book adaptations.
That doesn’t mean the Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t become increasingly collaborative over the years, because it most definitely has, but there’s still a brain trust who need to approve and sign off on all major decisions before a writer or director can put them into practice.
As a two-time Academy Award-winning talent, Chloé Zhao was one of the hottest tickets in Hollywood in the buildup to Eternals being released, but the intergalactic epic wound up as the worst-reviewed installment in franchise history. However, the fans loved it, and it managed to reach $400 million at the box office, so it was hardly a disaster.
In an interview with The Radio Times, Zhao couldn’t speak highly enough about the process of working with Marvel, even though she’d jumped from a $5 million independent film into a $200 million superhero extravaganza.
“With smaller movies you may have freedom because in some ways you can do whatever you want, but when you wrap at three in the morning and then have to drive your cast home because they don’t have a form of transportation, there are limitations there, too. For a film this big, every movement you want to make, hundreds of people have to move with you. So decisions happen a bit slower. However, you also have unlimited resources to make your imagination come true, you can go to places, you have time, there are many other ways to have freedom.”
Eternals is coming to Disney Plus tomorrow, where it’s guaranteed to dominate the most-watched list for weeks, but fans would be much happier if it came burdened with an official sequel announcement.