Eternals "will have a very big effect on the future of the MCU", says director Chloé Zhao

(Image credit: Marvel/Disney)

The Eternals are coming. Not since Guardians to the Galaxy introduced the world to a rag-tag bunch of a-holes has the MCU introduced so many key new characters in a single movie. And as you may suspect, the super-powered beings know as Eternals are going to be hanging around for a little while.

"I think we stand alone as a film for sure," director Chloé Zhao tells Total Film in the upcoming issue of the magazine, featuring Eternals on the cover. "But I do think we will have a very big effect on the future of the MCU with what happens in this film. Which, you know, as a fan, is really satisfying for me! I geek out."

How will Eternals impact the MCU going forward? None of the actors are drawn on specifics. "The Marvel snipers will take me out if I say anything," deadpans Richard Madden, who plays Ikaris. However, one indisputable fact is that Eternals marks a powerful leap forward in terms of representation, comprising characters that are older, younger, gay, Deaf, and racially diverse.

Salma Hayek, who will appear as Ajak, calls Eternals "completely a game-changer" in that sense. "No one [normally] calls and says, 'I’ve been thinking about you for my next film. And it’s also a huge movie, and you are one of the leads. And you get to be a superhero in your fifties, when you’re Mexican Lebanese.' The Eternals were smarter than Hollywood. You see that they’ve got the essence of something. Our diversity goes beyond the geography. It’s just a group of unique individuals."

"I think that the comics give us hope and that is what the MCU does," says Lauren Ridloff. The Walking Dead actor is set to play the Deaf hero Makkari. "I feel that with more representation and diversity within the MCU, that sense of optimism and ‘can-do’ becomes more strong, more palpable. I hope that people who feel seen also feel empowered to dream bigger."

"It’s insane that it has taken this long, and that it’s not already regularly this form of representation, because it didn’t feel special – it just felt correct,” says Angelina Jolie, almost laughing in disbelief. She portrays the elite warrior Thena. "It just felt like an appropriate representation of the world we live in."

Eternals is set to open in cinemas on 5 November. For more on Eternals, be sure to pick up the new issue of Total Film magazine – featuring exclusive interviews with Zhao and the entire cast – when it hits shelves this Thursday, September 16. And as this is a special line-up, there’s not one but FOUR covers to collect, featuring all 10 heroes. Check them out below…

Total Film's four Eternals covers.

(Image credit: Total Film/Disney)

And if you’re a fan of Total Film, why not subscribe so that you never miss an issue? You’ll also get it before it’s in shops, and you’ll get exclusive subscriber-only covers like the Eternals one you can see below. With our current subscription offer at MagazinesDirect, you’ll get the magazine half price too, so what are you waiting for?

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(Image credit: Total Film/Disney/Warner Bros)
Matt Maytum
Editor, Total Film

I'm the Editor at Total Film magazine, overseeing the running of the mag, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.