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The writers of Eternals, Chloe Zhao, fought Marvel to keep the Hiroshima scene

Kaz and Ryan Firpo found the perfect partner in Eternal Director Chloé Zhao. While the cousin-screenwriter couple had a combined documentary and heartfelt narrative drama background, they were also at an age when their frame of reference for cosmic storytelling was on the order of a Marvel movie Final Fantasy VII and Spirited away. Both of them routinely appeared while working on the film with Zhao.

“Chloé is a fantastic human filmmaker who makes spiritual dramas and a huge nerd at the same time,” Kaz tells Polygon. “And that’s Chloé’s secret sauce, so to speak.”

For the Firpos, Final Fantasy VII and Hayao Miyazaki’s films exist in the “gray area” where epic moments play with emotional and ethical complexity. The authors hoped to answer the same big questions Eternal – and stage moments as challenging as a replica of the US atomic bombing on Hiroshima, framed by a superhero story.

“It’s really a movie about humanity with a capital H,” says Kaz, “and the question: Are we worth the gift given to us by this planet and life? Then these eternal, immortal space gods also dealt with it, something that no film, I believe, ever had the chance to do. “

As many Marvel writers have claimed over the years, Kaz and Ryan’s MCU design experience began with CEO Kevin Feige, producer Nate Moore, and the rest of the development team leaving the pair to their devices. Eternal would emerge from the aftermath Avengers: Endgame, but no “must-dos” were handed over to the Firpos. Instead, they flipped through Marvel comic book history, grabbing the best bits of Eternals history (along with some key inspirations from Jim Krueger’s Earth X run), and customizing the soaring antics with their own Big Questions. Of course, the events of Endgame did not harm the process.

Sersi (Gemma Chan) in Eternals.

Image: Marvel Studios

“Thanos introduced us to the rich complexity,” says Kaz. “Thanos doesn’t think he’s the bad guy. I think there are a lot of people who even support Thanos, especially after the last few years we’ve had. So you look at that and say, ‘Well, that was the beginning of this gray area.’ ”

“This is the first time Ajak has questioned their mission,” added Ryan. “The literal reason for this is what happened to Thanos, and humanity banded together and brought back half of the population like they did. But the more spiritual reason is basically that she watched people grow. And she’s watched how humans evolved into the atomic age and the birth of Captain America and all these superheroes who occupy this very special Earth-616. That made her wonder, ‘Maybe this is one we shouldn’t let go of.’

From the early drafts Eternal always focused on Sersi and Ikaris. “This is a love versus duty movie themed, and so we wanted to have two characters that represent those ideas,” says Ryan. “And for us Ikaris is duty and Sersi is love, but to make it even more complicated, they are in love with each other. We wanted [Sersi] because of her powers, but more precisely because she herself, the way she was written in other runs of Eternals, is kind of like the most human of Eternals. She is the one who is the most chaotic and empathetic. We basically always describe her as “an immortal with a mortal soul”. As if she were very attuned to the idea of ​​impermanence and the idea that every moment is precious because every moment is fleeting even though it was eternal. “

Kaz adds that Eternal‘The twist in the third act was always planned. After bringing the found family back together, Ikaris reveals that he was behind Ajak’s death and plans to carry out Arishem’s command – the birth of the new Heavenly Tiamut from the womb of the earth. The Firpos wrote the villain Eternal as if he were the hero of his own movie. “If your mission is to save the world and then you learn about your missions to destroy the world, where do you end up? Who is good Who is bad?”

Perhaps the most polarizing and provocative moment in the film is when a true atrocity tests the Eternals’ “don’t interfere” code and breaks Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry). As an inventor who brought technological leaps to mankind, the Eternal watches a mushroom rise from the bombing on Hiroshima. It’s a shocking touch with reality, all the more so because it’s in a Marvel movie.

Eternals Hiroshima bomb scene

Image: Marvel Studios

“That was essentially in every draft of the script,” says Kaz. “We are really proud of it, only for what it’s worth. I’m half Japanese and my family is super American, but through great-great-grandparents who are from Japan. And that’s just one big event in the world. It’s something you learn in American schools. We grew up in the Bay Area and in a public school in California they really do this idea, they actually teach it, it’s a whole unit where half the class is split up to say, “You have to “defend the bombing.” And then you have to say why the bombing was bad. And it’s so useful to have a big talk about the moral complexities in the gray areas of war. “

Kaz wanted to bring this confrontational moment from his childhood memories into life Eternal. “From that jump on, I remembered from my seventh grade middle school curriculum: There is no right answer to ‘Should we have dropped the bomb?’ Would it have saved a million lives? Done? Nobody really knows. And Chloé, to her great honor, really fought to keep it in the film. In every draft, people tried to take it out. ‘It’s divisive.’ ‘Its scary.’ ‘You’re talking about genocide.’ And she had the vision to keep that. ”

The Firpos are not surprised Eternal is divisive “because it questions so many things about the convention”. But it’s also a movie they’re proud of. And they hope to explore more of the gray area in future films. And the dream project? As serious and personal as it gets Eternal, no question about it, they’d take the chance to adapt Final Fantasy VII.

Final Fantasy VII was a story I played when I was very young that changed my life, ”says Kaz. “It really opened my borders and opened the horizon of what to do in a story. I think for me my dreams were always about to be taken Final Fantasy VII and make it the most epic story ever. “

Chloé Zhao should direct?

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