‘Eternals’ Director Chloé Zhao Reveals the MCU Film’s ‘Really Bleak’ Original Ending

“I remember when it goes to black, everyone was like, ‘I don’t know what to do,'” co-writer and director tells Empire

Marvel Studios

The following article contains SPOILERS for the ending of Marvel’s “Eternals.”

Now that we’re a few months removed from the release of Marvel’s “Eternals,” director Chloé Zhao in a new interview discussed some of the film’s specific plot points, including saying that her original, planned ending for the film was far darker than what audiences saw.

Zhao told Empire in an interview Tuesday that an earlier cut of the film had an ending that was “really bleak” and left people who saw it puzzled.

“We actually had another ending that is really bleak. Bleak,” Zhao told Empire. “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.”

“Eternals” is the story of a team of all powerful deities left to guard Earth and mankind across millennia, living secretly among humans for generations, only to later discover that they’re essentially robotic tools that will be used when Earth’s energy is absorbed and destroyed in order to continue the cycle of life across the universe. The film ends with the Eternals halting the “emergence” and saving the fate of the planet, only for the surviving Eternals to be whisked back aboard a spaceship and shuttled away from Earth to answer for their insolence to their overlord, a Celestial known as Arishem.

Zhao’s original ending, however, removed some of that ambiguity about what happens next and additionally showed the Eternals having their memories wiped. Though in fact, having directed films like “Nomadland” and “The Rider” in the past, she almost preferred the darker ending until other audiences saw it.

“I have never made a film where the ending is what I wrote! You find it in the edit,” she said. “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’s ending though would have in some ways helped to tie into her plans with the introduction of Harry Styles’ character Eros — who is revealed to be another Eternal and also Thanos’ brother from another planet. Zhao says she pitched the character of Eros to Kevin Feige as Styles specifically and envisioning him and his companion Pip the Troll (played by Patton Oswalt) as space outlaws like “Han and Chewie” from “Star Wars.”

Read more from Zhao’s interview with Empire here.