Chloe Zhao’s Eternals will take place over a time span of 7,000 years, back to the earliest days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The upcoming film will continue to expand the world built by previous Marvel movies, sending us back to a time before Thanos even existed. Eternals will also answer the question of why the group of immortal beings weren’t around to help out the Avengers when Thanos threatened to wipe out half of the universe.

Speaking with Total Film, Zhao explained her decision to go back to the beginning with her tentpole MCU project. “What excited me is the idea of going back in time, and exploring [the time] before Thanos was born, before anyone was born,” she stated. “Where does the MCU go back in time? And that brings us to the mythology of the Celestials. Anything involving the Celestials is going to be at a huge scale level of complication, let’s put it that way.”

As for the Eternals’ absence from the conflict with Thanos, Zhao shared that her film will reveal the events from their side of the story. “[The audience] will understand why. Not only why, but how complicated not interfering made them feel,” said Zhao. “We explore that. You'll see that in the film. The Eternals were instructed not to interfere with any human conflict unless Deviants are involved. There’s a reason why that's the case. And that was the instruction from the prime Celestial Arishem.” This notion is also explored in the final Eternals trailer, which was released last month.

Eternals stars Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, and Kit Harrington, among others. It lands in theaters on November 5, 2021, where it will have an exclusive theatrical window for 45 days before it then moves to Disney+ for streaming.

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