Marvel's Eternals premiered on the big screen around two months ago, but its narrative impact is still being felt among fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even before cameras began rolling on the project, there was a deluge of speculation about how it would tie into the larger MCU — particularly with regards to Thanos (Josh Brolin), who is technically a member of the race of Eternals. In a recent interview with Empire, Eternals director and co-writer Chloe Zhao indicated how Thanos and his brother, Eros (Harry Styles), who was introduced in the film's mid-credits scene, fit together.
"I can tell you why! Long story short, with that depressing ending, at some point he was going to be one of the Eternals on that ship," Zhao explained. "And that didn't quite work out. But I had been wanting to bring Eros into the MCU. So I kept mentioning it to Kevin [Feige] at every chance I had in the hallway, because I love the idea of Eros being another Eternal, another Ajak. He's an Eternal, and he was stationed on Titan – 10 of them were, just like the 10 Eternals on Earth, assuming Titan is also a host planet at some point. Now, if you think about that, what influence could Eros have had on the inhabitants of Titan, the way Ajak has influenced people on Earth? And how that has affected Thanos?"
"If you go to the comics, there's some quite beautiful, heartbreaking influence Eros has had on Thanos," Zhao continued. "And how much does Thanos know? I love him as a character. It makes my imagination go crazy thinking, 'Why does Thanos think this way? Why is he worried about overpopulation and destroying his planet?' Think about the emergence – does Eros know about it? Maybe if he's an advisor, the way Ajak advised kings and queens on Earth? It gets my imagination going. For me, the backstory of Eros is that he deserted, he said, "I'm not doing this anymore." So he somehow got that sphere, which you saw in his hand, and he ran off and made Pip the troll. They're like Han Solo and Chewie. Arishem's been looking for him, and he's just been a space outlaw. That's the character I had in my mind. But I never said once to Kevin, 'Here's the character. Let's find an actor.' For me, it was a package deal. It's got to be Harry. That's how I pitched it to Kevin."
As Zhao previously explained to ComicBook.com, the goal was to make Eternals largely stand on its own from the shadow of Thanos — even though she loves the character.
"As a fan girl, I love Thanos. He is one of my favorites," Zhao told ComicBook.com earlier this year. "I feel bad that I'm kind of with him a lot of times, and I feel really bad when he became the dust in the wind. Of course, I would love to, but it was a discipline of the team, and Marvel, and [Ryan and Kaz Firpo] who created the story with the team, we stand alone as a movie. It's important at this stage of the MCU to take a step back and it's scary and it's very brave for them to have that discipline."
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