For any other franchise, or any other studio for that matter, The Eternals would be a massive gamble. A mega-budget sci-fi based on an obscure comic book that most general audiences have never heard of, from a director whose only two previous features were critically-acclaimed independent dramas that earned a little over $3.5 million at the box office combined, it seems like the kind of ambitious blockbuster that only Marvel Studios could pull off.
With its position as the most successful and lucrative series in the history of cinema, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in a rare position to take risks that most other studios wouldn’t dare attempt, and The Eternals is no different. Chloe Zao’s currently-shooting twenty-fifth installment follows a group of immortal aliens waging an intergalactic war against their evolutionary counterparts, and in an effort to sell that kind of cosmic madness, the movie has assembled the franchise’s most impressive cast this side of the Avengers.
As well as featuring a mix of established stars, rising up-and-comers and relative unknowns, The Eternals also boasts one of the most eclectic and diverse rosters ever assembled for a marquee superhero movie, and that notion hasn’t been lost on Richard Madden, who stars as Ikaris, the first openly gay hero in the MCU.
Speaking in a recent interview, the actor said the following about it:
“I think it’s hugely important, just the cast is so diverse. I’m a white male actor and not in the majority of this cast. I’m the minority, which is important in terms of diversity in filmmaking. I think Marvel are really at the forefront of that.”
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It may have taken a while, but Marvel Studios has made great strides in diversifying their lineup. Following the critical and commercial success of Black Panther and Captain Marvel, The Eternals will feature both the franchise’s first major LGBT character in a starring role, as well as its first deaf superhero, while Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings boasts the MCU’s first headlining Asian superhero, and that’s without mentioning Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie looking for her queen in the hotly-anticipated Thor: Love and Thunder.
Alongside Game of Thrones alumni Madden, The Eternals also stars Barry Keoghan, Brian Tyree Henry, Don Lee, Gemma Chan, Lia McHugh, Kumail Nanjiani, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie, and is set to hit theaters in November 2020.