Will there be an Eternals 2? Academy Award-winning Nomadland filmmaker and first-time Marvel director Chloe Zhao speaks out on returning for a sequel to her "standalone" film, part of Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Marvel's Eternals, now playing only in theaters, the independent filmmaker behind Songs My Brother Taught Me and The Rider brings arthouse sensibilities to the franchise under the creative charge of Avengers and Spider-Man producer Kevin Feige. As Eternals eyes a $75 million opening weekend at the box office despite Marvel's first Rotten score, Zhao says moviegoers — and moviemakers — must "watch and listen and learn" to see if there will be an Eternals sequel.
"I was encouraged to make a good standalone film, very encouraged to do that. I think now the film belongs to you, not me, and we want to see how this child grows in this scary, wild, and beautiful world," Zhao told JoBlo when asked about her Marvel return. "And then we need to watch and listen and learn and then see where we go from there. But I think, maybe I'm wrong about this, but I feel like filmmakers, it doesn't matter what genre, they tend to make the same movie over and over and over (laughs)."
Zhao added: "There's certain themes, there's certain things that I would keep pushing, I'm very happy to go back to make films with five people again."
In Eternals, about immortal cosmic beings who must regroup after spending centuries apart on Earth, Zhao's core cast includes ten Eternals and the human Dane Whitman (Kit Harington). The epic story spans thousands of years and introduces Ikaris and Sersi (Richard Madden and Gemma Chan), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Ajak (Salma Hayek), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Druig (Barry Keoghan), and Thena (Angelina Jolie).
Asked which character she wants to revisit most, Zhao answered: "It's like asking me to see which children I want to take to the party. All of them!"
Whether or not Zhao returns for more Marvel, the filmmaker sees potential in going back in time before the present-day MCU to explore the 7,000 years the Eternals spent on Earth.
"I also think that there's something could be cool — I'm not maybe pitching this to Marvel, not necessarily with me — but the world is expanding real fast," Zhao said of the MCU. "If they do anything set in the past, any time in history, these guys could show up because they've been here the whole time."
During a set visit in 2020, producer Nate Moore told press that Eternals was designed to be standalone, and a sequel is "not something that is a must-have."
"Obviously, we have ideas of where we could go," Moore said at the time, "but there isn't a hard and fast rule where we have to have three of these things, and this is the first."
Marvel's Eternals is now playing only in theaters.