It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... Ikaris? Marvel's Eternals director Chloé Zhao exclusively tells ComicBook about name-dropping a DC Comics superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe when Ikaris (Richard Madden) is mistaken for Superman. When immortal aliens Ikaris and Sersi (Gemma Chan) reunite with suburban dad Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), his young son recognizes the blue-suited superhero: "Dad, that's Superman! With the cape, and you were shooting laser beams out of your eyes!" But there's a difference, Ikaris quips: "I don't wear a cape."
"I take some responsibility for that. I think we're in the business of telling stories about mythology, and Superman, for example, comes from origin of mythology. In many different cultures, there's a form of Superman," Zhao said in an exclusive interview with ComicBook. "And the people that created Superman and the brilliant filmmakers [who] brought Superman to screen, their movies are basically, in my opinion, doing a modern interpretation of that mythology."
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where Ikaris and other Jack Kirby creations are immortal aliens from the planet Olympia, Madden's "loyal soldier" superhero "is our interpretation of that mythology."
"It doesn't mean we can't pay tribute and have a good time with these iconic ones that we all love to so much," Zhao said. "I mean, who doesn't love Superman and Batman? Clearly our Eternals like them."
In a separate interview, producer Nate Moore explained how Marvel Studios avoided mimicking the Man of Steel, who also possesses powers of flight, super-strength, and the ability to "shoot laser beams": here, it's golden cosmic energy Ikaris discharges from his eyes.
"Ikaris' powers you have seen before, obviously there's a lot of similarities to Superman," Moore told ScreenRant. "So how do we make his cosmic eyebeams that aren't the red lasers that we've come to know and have become iconic for that character? For us, it's all about the cosmic energy and really leaning into that."
Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige previously revealed he revisits Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie before the start of production on most Marvel movies, calling the 1978 film "the archetype of the perfect superhero film origin story."
Starring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayak, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, Barry Keoghan, Kit Harington, and Angelina Jolie, Marvel's Eternals opens only in theaters on November 5.