(AFP) – Chloé Zhao, Oscar-winning director for “Nomadland”, deconstructs superheroes, filled with doubts and cracks, with “The Eternals”, super-production ambitious, however, weighted down by the weight of large studios.
These “Eternals” (released Wednesday) are not the most famous characters of the Marvel team. It is a brigade with super-powers sent by a superior force to protect humanity from its appearance against evil predators, the “Deviants”.
The “Eternals” ( they do not age) thus cross the centuries but without intervening in the relations between humans. They therefore did not prevent wars or genocides.
Obviously, what interests Chloé Zhao here is when the mechanics get stuck, when these “Eternals” understand that something is wrong with their mission and question their existence as a group or individual.
“The Eternals are a dysfunctional group and family, they had a god (the higher force that sent them to Earth), they lose their faith, do not know what to do, ”summarizes the director, met by AFP in Paris.
Marvel had already harnessed itself to demystify his heroes, as with Wolverine, central character of the X-Men franchise, a mutant whose physical power is balanced by significant psychic trauma.
Here, we finds the equivalence with the figure of Thena, played by Angelina Jolie, “warrior broken inside” as portrayed by the filmmaker, who also co-signs the screenplay.
– The boss is a woman –
But Chloé Zhao takes another step forward. One of the “Eternals” refuses the final fight, not out of cowardice but out of conviction, in a Gandhi-style approach. “It’s one of the things I cared about the most and it’s incredibly courageous for Marvel to have created this superhero who refuses to take part in the 3rd act, it’s unheard of,” she says. .
“I come from a Taoist tradition, there are virtues in inaction, it is an important message to send to the world. There are different cultures where , for a leader, choosing the peaceful path is a form of opposition, of courage “, develops the thirty-something from Beijing who lives in the United States.
The film also plays the card of inclusiveness. All skin colors are represented in these superheroes (the South Korean actor Ma Dong-seok, also called Don Lee, as well as, for example, the Pakistani Kumail Nanjiani, are in the game). One of the women in the gang is deaf and dumb (but she is the fastest) and the brains of the troop have founded a homoparental family.
And among the “Eternals” , the boss is a woman (Salma Hayek). “I learned a lot about myself with this film, when I finished I realized that I wanted to celebrate female strength, because being a filmmaker sometimes has a very masculine side in the film industry, and there I exploited the feminine force in me “, analyzes Chloé Zhao.
In a time when we talk a lot about the deconstructed male, those of the” Eternals “sometimes reveal their” vulnerability and sensitivity “as underlines this figure of American independent cinema passed with this feature film on the side of the big studios.
And speaking of the Hollywood industry, the film unfortunately suffers from its gigantism (the press mentions a budget of 200 millions of dollars). The work is thus too long (2 hours 11) and juggles with too many main characters (there are ten of them). The spring of the action, the clash of cosmic forces, somewhat esoteric, also risks, unlike the X-Men, not federating beyond the outright circle of fans of the Marvel universe.