Best director Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao is a major coup for Marvel (Picture: Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images)
Newly-minted best director Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao almost joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe sooner to helm Black Widow, studio boss Kevin Feige has revealed.
Before she accepted the offer to direct Eternals for Marvel, currently due out in November, Feige shared that she was in talks to take on Black Widow, which will premiere in cinemas and on Disney Plus in July.
Zhao – who made history at Sunday’s Academy Awards by becoming the first woman of colour to win best director – still got her opportunity to work within the MCU on a big-budget, star-studded superhero film, despite having withdrawn herself from consideration for Black Widow.
Marvel Studios president Feige revealed that Zhao was in the mix for directing Scarlett Johansson in her return to the role of Natasha Romanoff before Cate Shortland took the job.
However, Zhao ‘took herself out of it’ for reasons he speculated on.
Speaking to Variety, Feige said: ‘Well, my memory of events, which is always coloured by our own experiences, of course, is that she first popped up for Black Widow.
Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh could have been directed by Chloe Zhao for Black Widow (Picture: Marvel Studios/Disney via AP)
‘Brad Winderbaum, who is a producer on Black Widow, either had an initial meeting with her and then she was going to come back in and do a pitch meeting – but she took herself out of it.
‘She didn’t have the time, or she wasn’t ready yet, or maybe she was gone off to shoot or prep Nomadland – I don’t remember exactly.’
Well, if it was Nomadland that drew Zhao away from Marvel the first time around, the risky bet of working on her own smaller project certainly paid off!
Alongside her best director win, which makes her only the second woman in history to so do, she also landed the best picture Oscar and star Frances McDormand won her third Oscar for best actress.
Bringing that kind of prestige to the MCU should only further fan the flames of excitement for Eternals, which stars Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek and Kumail Nanjiani, who famously got into incredible shape for his role.
Feige also shared how Zhao’s work on Eternals almost delayed ‘this little movie she was doing’, a.k.a. Nomadland, meaning it might not have qualified for this year’s Academy Awards.
He said: ‘She initially was going to put Nomadland on the shelf until after Eternals was finished and released, and then come back to it.’
Frances McDormand and Chloe Zhao were quite the dream team of producers for Nomadland too, picking up the Oscar for best picture (Picture: Chris Pizzello/Pool/EPA)
He revealed that the Covid shutdown prompted her to finish up ‘this little movie’, Nomadland. And the rest is history.
Feige also heaped praise on Zhao’s approach for Eternals, which is based on a group of superheroes who made their first appearance in Marvel comics in 1976.
He described her pitch for the film as a ‘very bold and very ambitious’ presentation.
It’s hard to believe that Eternals will only be the 39-year-old’s fourth feature film, but we cannot wait.