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Villeneuve Praised Marvel Hiring Eternals Director Before MCU Comments


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Denis Villeneuve praised Marvel Studios' hiring of Eternals director Chloé Zhao before his recent comments criticizing the MCU. The French Canadian director has recently made a name for himself in science fiction with the acclaimed films Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 and is currently doing press for his blockbuster adaptation of Dune. Zhao's Marvel film Eternals is set to premiere on November 5.

While not someone who is generally dismissive of genre filmmaking, Villeneuve has recently found himself in hot water by expressing a negative opinion of Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Speaking to the Spanish outlet El Mundo, the Dune director bemoaned that "there are too many Marvel movies that are nothing more than a cut and paste of others." Villeneuve is only the latest director to criticize Marvel Studios, with seemingly every major filmmaker getting asked for their thoughts on the box office juggernaut since Martin Scorsese caused a media storm by arguing Marvel films weren't cinema to him.

RELATED: Eternals' Villeneuve Influence Proves Its MCU Difference (& That's Good)

Before he made these disparaging comments, however, Villeneuve referred to Marvel's hiring of Zhao for Eternals as "genius" in a discussion between the two filmmakers for Harper's Bazaar. He expressed to Zhao his deep admiration of her work and said he considers her style the "radical opposite" of the MCU's. He also wondered how she will be able to achieve her artistic goals in a Marvel project:

I’m your biggest fan. I think it’s genius that Marvel approached you because you’re the radical opposite of it aesthetically. When I saw The Rider for the first time, I was blown away. I wrote a note to you—an artistic love letter. What touched me was your insane skill to be able to approach life. Life is so afraid of the camera. When I saw The Rider, I cried because I was like, “She did it. She was able to go in that zone that I thought was not possible.” I wonder how you can invite life in a Marvel movie.

Elsewhere in their conversation, Zhao admitted that when she made her pitch to Marvel for Eternals, she used stills from Villeneuve's films as visual references. The two also bonded over their love of Star Wars, and Villeneuve identifies seeing The Empire Strikes Back at 10 years old as "one of the most impressive cinematic experiences" of his life. He added: "I never talk about Star Wars. I want to look like an intellectual director, but I'm not. The truth is, I am a deep fan."

Villeneuve's conversation with Zhao reiterates his position as a filmmaker passionate about genre, but his praise for Zhao's hiring fits with his later dismissal of many MCU films. His criticism does not seem to come from a place of snobbery, as many superhero movie fans might assume, but rather a genuine critique of Marvel's general stylistic approach to filmmaking. Seen in this light, his "copy and paste" comment is intended to spur them to take more creative risks, and hire more directors like Zhao. But, many Marvel fans could still take offense at his diminishing of much of their canon so far, as well as the work of the artists that made them. It will be interesting to see what Villeneuve has to say if this conversation is revisited after Eternals is released.

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