Eternals director Chloé Zhao reacts to divisive reviews to MCU film, suggests pandemic had something to do with it: ‘Everyone was having an existential crisis’

To date, Eternals remains the only MCU movie to have a “rotten” rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. Director Chloe Zhao spoke about the divisive critical response.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloé Zhao has opened up about the poor critical reception to her Marvel movie Eternals. To date, Eternals remains the only MCU movie to have a “rotten” rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. The film holds a 47 per cent score, meaning less than half of the reviews submitted on the site are positive. Even most of the positive reviews of the movie read as though they were apologising for it.
The filmmaker has spoken about the film’s negative critical reception, saying she is not concerned about it. She told Empire that expecting universally positive reception, a consensus, is like a “hindrance for living an authentic life as a person.” She suggested that the film’s release during the pandemic had something to do with how it was received. “Eternals was planned to be released soon after Endgame, and not at a time when everyone is having an existential crisis,” she said. “The film itself is about existential crisis, both for humanity and God. So I think we definitely felt it was coming.”
She added she has “been on the receiving end of somewhat consensus, and divisiveness about my work. Neither of them has any real influence on me as an artist, because every time I’m lucky enough to create, I learn from the process.”
Eternals posits that the Avengers were only the second superhero team on the Earth, and that the titular quasi-immortal beings called Eternals have lived secretly among humans since 5000 BC, about 7000 years before the Avengers initiative came to be. They were told by their Celestial overlord called Arishem that they were Earth’s protectors, and were tasked to destroy the Deviants, their destructive counterparts. But when the Deviants seemingly died, the good guys ostensibly received no further communication from the Celestial, essentially stranded on Earth and left to mingle with humans.
Zhao, who gained prominence thanks to her multiple Oscar-winning film Nomadland, went on to say that for her, the learning process “is a very intimate affair. Anything beyond that, for me, it’s just a part of the ecosystem that exists because of the nature of the industry we’re in. Like a flower or a rock, I acknowledge and appreciate their presence. But that’s as far as it goes.”
Eternals had a stacked cast with names like Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie. The film made over $400 million worldwide.
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