John Ridley’s Scrapped Marvel TV Show Would Have Been Eternals ‘But Good’

Marvel’s Eternals just can’t catch a break. A key Phase 4 origin story touted as a major new tentpole, it has become a popular punching bag for those who see it as emblematic of the MCU’s various ills.

Oscar winner John Ridley is the latest to take a shot at Eternals, saying that his untitled ABC project would have been based on the property, but that it would have been “good.”

“[The ABC project] is not in the works anymore,” Ridley said on the Comic Book Club podcast. “It was a television version of The Eternals… But good.”

Ridley’s project was part of the original slate of shows that included Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, and Netflix’s Daredevil. Ridley, who is best-known for his work directing 12 Years a Slave, was revealed to be working on his own show in 2015, but little was known about it until recently.

Back in 2017, Ridley said that the project was still alive and that he was still honing the concept with Marvel executives.

“For myself and certainly for the folks at Marvel, there’s been an explosion of storytelling in costumed heroes and comic book things. For us, we want to make sure we’re doing something that sits in a very unique space,” Ridley said at the time. “That’s very important for me, and that’s absolutely important for the people I’m working with there. I’m fortunate in the sense that I don’t feel that I have to do things for the sake of doing things, and I’m very fortunate to be working with partners who have a level of patience in terms of that storytelling. I will say that we’re continuing to work on it. I’m very, very excited about it.”

Ridley’s project faded from view when Marvel pivoted away from ABC and Netflix and began working on new projects for Disney+. Fellow Oscar winner Chloé Zhao took on Eternals with her 2021 feature film, which we called “visually stunning and impeccably acted” but also “unwieldy” in our review.

My version was the good version

“My version was the good version,” Ridley said in the interview. “It was so f***ing 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.”

He went on to share more about the pilot for his version of The Eternals. “My version started with… the first thing you see is a young man, probably about 18 years old. 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.”

Ultimately, Ridley says that the Eternals was a “hard property to develop” and that he ultimately wasn’t sure it would have been very entertaining.

“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,” Ridley said.

Its unclear what the future holds for Eternals, which failed to capture the imagination of fans in the same way as Guardians of the Galaxy. The next major MCU project is Echo, which is slated for release on January 10. As for Ridley, his most recent release is Five Days at Memorial, a mini-series that released in 2022.

Kat Bailey is IGN’s News Director as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.

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