Marvel’s ‘Eternals’ Director Chloé Zhao Reveals the Movie’s Original ‘Very Bleak’ Ending

Eternals was in no way the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s happiest film of 2021. From surprise betrayals to heartbreaking deaths, the movie wasn’t afraid to dive into a place of melancholy. However, according to director Chloé Zhao, Eternals could have ended on a much more somber note.

Marvel's 'Eternals' director Chloé Zhao wears a black jacket with gold buttons and jeans while standing in front of a 'Eternals' backdrop.
Chloé Zhao | Photo by Stefania D’Alessandro/WireImage

Arishem abducts the remaining Eternals at the end of the Marvel film

At the end of Marvel’s Eternals, Arishem forced the remainder of the immortal beings on Earth to face the consequences of their betrayal. Earlier in the film, some of the Eternals banded together to stop the “Emergence,” which would birth a new Celestial and decimate all human life on Earth. Ikaris and Sprite tried to stop them since they felt they had a duty to follow the Celestials’ orders, but they were unsuccessful.

With Gilgamesh and Ajak already having been killed by the hands of the Deviants before the final battle, Ikaris, feeling immense guilt, also died when he flew himself into the Sun. Sersi turned Sprite into a human, as were her wishes. And Druig, Makkari, and Thena jetted off to find more Eternals in the universe.

And the Marvel movie ended with Arishem dragging the rest of the Eternals — Sersi, Kingo, and Phastos — into space. So, the film didn’t have the happiest ending in cinematic history. However, it was almost a lot more depressing.

Chloé Zhao originally had a different ending for Marvel’s ‘Eternals’

During an interview with Empire, Chloé Zhao discussed behind-the-scenes secrets from Eternals, including the original ending to the Marvel movie.

When asked if the finale in the finished film was always the plan, Zhao said, “No. I have never made a film where the ending is what I wrote! You find it in the edit. Editing is a third of the filmmaking process, and when you show it to people, that’s when you find the ending.”

“I don’t think I’ve made a single film where the opening and ending stay the same as the script, just because the scenes are fluid as we shoot,” the director shared. “And we actually had another ending that is really bleak. Bleak. I didn’t hate it, because I’m used to films that are more melancholy. But I don’t think it went down well with audiences.”

Zhao continued, “It used to end with everybody back on the ship, minds erased and just going on to another planet, like The Twilight Zone. I remember when it goes to black, everyone was like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ And also, it’s the MCU, and you want to be excited for what’s next.”

Thankfully, the original ending didn’t make the cut for Marvel’s Eternals because it might have been difficult for fans to get excited for a sequel after that finale.


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Will Chloé Zhao return to direct a possible sequel?

Given the final few scenes of Marvel’s Eternals, it’s safe to say that there will be a future for at least some of its characters. But, according to Chloé Zhao, a sequel was never in the back of her mind while making the movie.

“You know, I was very encouraged to make a good standalone film and nothing further,” the director told Elle. “With this specific film, let’s put everything on the table and see what happens.”

Marvel has not confirmed a sequel yet. But it’s hard to believe that they would make one without Zhao since her unique signature is all over the first movie.

Marvel’s Eternals will be available to stream on Disney+ on Jan. 12.