Production on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Eternals started in the spring of 2019, but we’re still eight months away from the cosmic blockbuster hitting theaters, an entire calendar year later than expected after it was hit by a hefty delay as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. And by the time it arrives, co-writer and director Chloe Zhao’s profile will have risen significantly.
The filmmaker’s Nomadland has been sweeping the board throughout awards season, and after winning Golden Globes for Best Picture – Drama and Best Director, Zhao is now the odds-on favorite to take home the Oscar in the latter category. If it happens, which is looking like a mere formality at this point, then she’ll be the first person to helm an MCU feature that’s won an Academy Award for directing, and just the third recipient overall after Joe Johnston and Taika Waititi, who previously picked up trophies for Best Visual Effects and Best Adapted Screenplay respectively.
As you may know, Zhao was born and raised in Beijing before being sent to boarding school in the United Kingdom at fifteen years old, later moving to America when she decided to study filmmaking, and some comments of hers that were critical of China have now been circulating in the local press, which has not so coincidentally led to any mentions of Nomadland being removed from government-run websites.
If China is burying Nomadland due to Zhao’s comments, then Eternals is expected to get the same treatment, and that’s without even mentioning the same sex relationship in the movie, something that might struggle to make it past the notoriously strict censorship board. Of course, the MCU is big business in China and the region is a major market for Hollywood, but the resurfacing of Zhao’s criticism could end up having an adverse effect in the long run.