Films change quite a bit throughout their lengthy development process. Eternals is no exception, as director Chloé Zhao discusses in an interview with Empire how much the film has changed throughout the process. She highlights how she’s never “made a single film where the opening and ending stay the same as the script, just because the scenes are fluid as we shoot.” She highlights that there was one end that was more “melancholy” than what blockbuster fans are used to that was changed in the development process.
And we actually had another ending that is really bleak. Bleak. I didn’t hate it, because I’m used to films that are more melancholy. But I don’t think it went down well with audiences. It used to end with everybody back on the ship, minds erased and just going on to another planet, like The Twilight Zone. I remember when it goes to black, everyone was like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ And also, it’s the MCU, and you want to be excited for what’s next.Chloé Zhao
It seems that this ending was also going to be a bit more depressing and Harry Styles‘ Eros was originally going to have a role in it, which opens up quite a few interesting questions on how much his original role changed given how he is introduced in the final cut.
I can tell you why! Long story short, with that depressing ending, at some point he was going to be one of the Eternals on that ship. And that didn’t quite work out.Chloé Zhao
It would’ve been interesting to see this vicious cycle continue, especially after just saving a planet, but I do agree that it would’ve bookended their story much faster than what some MCU fans are used to. Yet, it may have added an interesting dilemma and added quite a bit of drama to the events that unfolded throughout the film. Yet, the open-ended judgment by Arishem does also continue the bleaker tone that the ending was going for without directly ending their specific journey.