Eternals star Angelina Jolie explains how the film’s diverse cast was necessary in accurately portraying its storyline and the new MCU heroes.
Angelina Jolie says the diverse casting of Eternals is intentional and helped the actors connect with their characters. Eternals, which is the upcoming third film in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, centers around the titular heroes; immortal beings who have been guiding humanity’s progress for thousands of years. Though the Eternals don’t normally interfere directly in human affairs, they are called to defend the Earth from Deviants, the monstrous creatures that were created by the same celestial force as their own kind. The film was directed by Academy Award winner Chloé Zhao and arrives in theaters on November 5.
Eternals boasts a cast of big-name actors from around the globe, who come from a diverse range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Gemma Chan and Richard Madden form the romantic core of the film as Ikaris and Sersi. They appear alongside comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Barry Keoghan as Druig, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, and Salma Hayek as Ajak, the spiritual leader of the Eternals. Angelina Jolie also features as Thena, a fierce warrior.
Per Comicbook.com, in a recent interview with Total Film, Jolie said the diversity of the cast is essential to the story Zhao and the film are telling. According to Jolie, this is not “diversity for the sake of diversity,” but rather it is simply representative of the film’s narrative. Since these celestial beings were supposed to have blended in across the globe throughout history, says Jolie, they had to be a truly global group of people. Although the actress admits there are parts of the world that the film leaves “unexplored,” she explains that the casting “felt right.” Read the full quote here:
She developed them [that way] – or we’d been cast with that in mind, and then it developed further. And we felt very much who we were playing. It was much more emotional and personal than I certainly had anticipated coming in.”
I think a good thing about this film is, it’s not diversity for the sake of diversity. Part of the original idea is, if you’re going to have Eternals and they’re going to blend into the Earth across the globe, they have to be on the globe. And still, we have places we need to go that are unexplored. But it certainly just felt right.
Marvel has made a concentrated effort to improve the diversity of its cast and crew over the past few years, particularly following the runaway success of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther. Eternals certainly has the broadest and most diverse cast of core heroes yet, which holds more meaning given Jolie’s explanation. The Eternals represent many different people across a range of cultures and times, a testament to Zhao’s thoughtful casting.
It still remains to be seen, however, how Eternals could possibly give each of these many different central characters a satisfying arc in a single film. Likely, there are some characters who will have to be explored more fully in an eventual sequel or Disney+ spinoff series. In any case, Jolie’s stamp of approval goes a long way towards giving fans faith that these new Marvel heroes will deliver plenty to be excited about this fall.