Marvel Confirms Canceled Eternals TV Series

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

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Acclaimed screenwriter and director John Ridley shared a surprising revelation, disclosing the true nature of his long-scrapped Marvel project–it was Eternals. The creative recently appeared on the Comic Book Club podcast, where he admitted that the series, under development at ABC in 2015, was actually a television adaptation of the Eternals comic book.

A Weird Plan For Eternals

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Saddening fans, the background information Ridley unveiled relays the saga of a vision unfulfilled. 

Indeed, many looked forward to Ridley’s unique vision for the series. Renowned for his Oscar-winning screenplay for 12 Years a Slave, Ridley conveyed his conception for the series differed substantially from the standard superhero fare. 

In the words of the writer-director, what he penned for Marvel—his vision of the Eternals franchise—was “so fucking weird.” 

Frankly, that sounds exciting. 

The Idea Was What?

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Don’t take our word for it: Ridley described the opening scene of his prospective project involving a young man lifting a power drill to his head, turning the drill on, and drilling into his own ear. 

Obviously, the tone of such a project would chart a path dissimilar from the cliche superhero content we’re (over)saturated with these days. The approach also reflects Ridley’s signature style, famed for challenging and unconventional storytelling. 

Blessing In Disguise

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For his part, the director reflected that, in hindsight, the Marvel Eternals project’s cancellation might have been a blessing in disguise—one benefiting all involved. Ridley projected humility, acknowledging the genuine challenges inherent to adapting his vision, which the writer phrased as a “really hard property.” 

Such a challenging show might not enjoy the biggest audience possible, alienating more than inviting viewership.

Dashing Mainstream Expectations

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Ridley’s own commendable creative ethos—following his own muse—ultimately motivated his reservations about his own project. The director opined that what he finds compelling, others might not; that the content he gravitates toward is, in his words, “often not populist.” 

With Marvel obviously banking on the most significant global audience possible, the Oscar-winning writer’s conception of the Eternals might have dashed mainstream expectations. 

Eternals Was Very Marvel

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Of course, Marvel fans know the direction the franchise took post-Ridley. Marvel Studios went on to produce the 2021 Eternals film a few years after the cancellation of Ridley’s screenplay; Chloé Zhao directed this incarnation. Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and Kit Harington featured in the star-studded cast of this cinematic rendition. 

The film followed a decidedly traditional, trod-and-true Marvel narrative formula. 

In hindsight, Ridley’s project and its axing constituted part of a larger end of an era for Marvel television.

Livening Things Up At Marvel

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Marvel Television was actively producing several other series, including Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Agent Carter, and Jessica Jones, in addition to Ridley’s shelved Eternals screenplay.

Of course, Marvel TV soon merged with Marvel Studios, undertaking a strategic shift that would lead to the cancellation of a number of developing projects, including Ridley’s.

Ultimately, John Ridley’s ambitious, distinctive approach to creating a novel superhero show through his Eternal screenplay remains a fascinating “what if” in the annals of TV history.

Despite its expansive universe, many would admit Marvel could use a fresh sensibility like Ridley’s to liven things up and reverse the increasingly predictable nature of the brand’s work. 

What’s more, Ridley’s candid reflections provide a window into the interesting, if frustrating, process of adapting comic book content to screen.

Source: Comic Book Club