Kevin Feige Says He Wouldn’t Have Made Eternals Without Chloé Zhao

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been known to choose its directors from out of left field, and as a result the franchise’s vast roster of comic book properties have tended to be handled by rising stars with a smattering of smaller films under their belts, rather than vastly experienced veterans.

In fact, just three Academy Award winning filmmakers have ever taken charge of an MCU project, and only one of them has a statue for Best Director. Joe Johnston won an Oscar for Raiders of the Lost Ark‘s visual effects 30 years before Captain America: The First Avenger, while Taika Waititi lifted his trophy for Jojo Rabbit‘s Best Adapted Screenplay on either side of Thor: Ragnarok and Love and Thunder.

Eternals‘ Chloé Zhao, meanwhile, sits in a class of her own.

Nomadland saw her scoop two trophies after the intimate drama also won Best Picture, and a massive superhero blockbuster is a hell of a jump to make from a $5 million independent feature. In a new interview, Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Kevin Feige admitted that there was no way he was going to even contemplate making Eternals if it wasn’t going to be Zhao at the helm.

“The truth is, we would not have even attempted this if it weren’t for Chloé. We thought, here’s a filmmaker who is equal parts cinematic visionary and genre nerd. She can out-talk any of us when it comes to manga and Star Wars and Marvel comics. It’s quite an astounding combination. And this movie, I think, represents all of the immense multitudes of Chloé.”

As one of the fastest-rising directorial talents in the business that’s now got a pair of Academy Awards under her belt, more eyes than ever will be on both Zhao and Eternals, with some of the snootier arthouse crowd presumably very interested in how she’s applied her singular style to a broad effects-driven studio tentpole. We might be a little light on footage until the next trailer drops, but the odds are high that Zhao has managed to knock her latest effort out of the park regardless.