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John Ridley Says He Wrote the ‘Good Version’ of Marvel’s ‘Eternals’



John Ridley thinks his version of Marvel’s Eternals is superior to the 2021 blockbuster that made it to the big screen.

“My version was the good version,” Ridley said during a Tuesday, January 2, episode of the “Comic Book Club” podcast. “It was so f–king weird. There was my version, a good version, which is good to me, which — that doesn’t mean anything. There was the version that [Marvel] ended up doing, which I don’t think … that version was particularly good. I’ll be honest.”

Ridley, who wrote the screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, explained that he was working on a Marvel series for ABC in 2015. The concept was based on the Eternals comic series. The writer confessed the idea got scrapped and was “not in the works anymore.”

“My version started with, the first thing you see is a young man, probably about 18 years old,” he explained about the pilot. “And he’s sitting there. He’s sitting there for a moment. And then he lifts his hands. He has a drill in it. And he turns the drill on. And he puts the drill to his ear. And he starts pushing it in. And then it goes from there. That’s the start, right? That’s how it starts. And then I think you see … another kid … He sleeps in the bathtub, covers himself with foil. It’s just a really weird story about these people who are, I mean, it’s just weird.”

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The Academy Award winner admitted that his concept had mixed reviews and the Eternals comic was a “really hard property to develop.”

“The best thing to happen for everybody was that it didn’t happen with me because I don’t know that it would have been entertaining,” Ridley confessed. “And I do mean what’s entertaining to me is often not entertaining. Populist, which is great for a lot of the work I do, but this needed to be a little bit more popular.”

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Long before WandaVision, Loki and other MCU series on Disney+, Marvel Television — which was a separate property from the film studio — produced several shows for other networks. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter ran on ABC, while Netflix had Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and others. However, in December 2019, Marvel Television merged with Marvel Studios to create cohesive content in one shared universe.

Instead of moving forward with a series, the MCU brought the Eternals to the big screen. The film premiered in October 2021 and had an A-list cast including Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Kumail Nanjiani, Kit Harington, Barry Keoghan and Richard Madden. Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao helmed the project, which earned $402.1 million at the box office. Despite its profitable run, The Eternals was the first MCU film to not receive generally positive reviews, earning 47 percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

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