Marvel Studios’ Eternals is still a pretty big mystery to fans as the pandemic has pushed release dates and marketing for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) back. And to be honest, the Eternals just aren’t that well known outside of comic book circles. However, we now know what are surely two key details about the film from an interview with director Chloé Zhao: It’s influenced by manga, and there will be an entire Bollywood dance sequence, probably far outpacing the only other dance sequence in MCU history.
Born in Beijing, Zhao grew up with manga, so she’s bringing that tone to her film based on western comics. She first pitched to Marvel with “reams of visuals” outlining a vision that Kevin Feige called “fascinating,” and it is one of the reasons the film, which has a ton of A-list stars in it, is getting made at all.
“I have such deep, strong, manga roots,” said Zhao. “I brought some of that into Eternals. And I look forward to pushing more of that marriage of East and West. … How much further and bigger can we go after Endgame? Because I’m not just making the film as a director. I’m making the film as a fan.”
Manga isn’t the only influence the film has. Zhao, who has worked on only smaller projects before, says she has full control over the film and is basically shooting it the same way she does her smaller films. “I shot exactly the way I wanted to shoot,” she said. “On location. A lot of magic hour. Three-hundred-sixty degrees on the same camera as I did on Nomadland (another film she’s working on). Same rigs. It’s a bit surreal. I’m still waiting for the shoe to drop. It hasn’t. I think I got lucky in that Marvel wants to take risks and do something different.”
Of course, even more important than things like style and theme is the fact that the movie will have a Bollywood-style dance sequence. The character that Kumail Nanjiani is playing is not only an Eternal but also a Bollywood star, and so there is an entire dance number with him in it. Who knows how much of it will actually make it into the film, as Zhao is now working on editing, but the director brought in approximately 50 dancers for it.
“When I walked onto the set and saw a huge group of brown people who were going to be in a Marvel movie, I felt such gratitude towards Chloé for creating the situation,” says Nanjiani. “The scene was full of joy.”
Eternals is currently scheduled to land on Feb. 12, 2021.