After a successful run in theaters in November of 2021, Marvel Studios began the year 2022 with the official release of Eternals on Disney+. Eternals continues to make its mark, with fans around the world able to watch it from the comfort of their own homes.
The MCU’s third film in 2021 is already breaking records regarding viewership on Disney+ within its first few weeks, as fans take in another round of intriguing storytelling and upper edge effects. Marvel Studios faced a daunting task with the emergence of nearly a dozen new superheroes, in fact, a 156-minute runtime in Eternals.
To make each hero unique on the big screen, they had to make sure that each of their powers sounded and looked distinct from those of other characters from other franchises. About Madden’s Ikaris, the blue-suited, super-powered flying man in the film, director Chloe Zhao recently addressed that challenge.
Chloe Zhao explains in the Eternals Audio Commentary how the team worked to ensure that Richard Madden’s Ikaris looked and used his superpowers differently from DC’s Superman in the film.
Superman’s heat vision and Ikaris’ ability to shoot “more of an energy blast” from his eyes are two ways Zhao hopes to separate the two as much as possible. As a result, sound designer Addison Teague opted to focus on the sound of Ikaris’ powers rather than the visual impact:
“We wanted to make sure that we separated Ikaris from Superman as much as possible. Superman has heat vision while [Ikaris] has more of an energy blast. So, in creating the sound for [Ikaris]’ eye beams, [sound designer] Addison [Teague] put more [emphasis] on the power, the sound of power, impact, and pressure so that it has a very unique sound.”
Taking a step back, Zhao wanted each hero’s abilities to have an “elemental” quality to them, a nod to Ajak’s sphere of power and to Sprite’s water-based illusions.
Eternals’ powers seem unique in the final cut of the movie because Zhao and the team used audible components “from different types of sacred worship”:
“It feels almost elemental. We wanted all of their powers, even from the opening scene when you see the little sphere coming out of Ajak’s chest and going into Ajak’s chest, there’s like a humming sound. And with Sprite’s illusions, there’s a water element to it. We always use sound from different types of sacred worship, like a Tibetan singing bowl or, you know, Druig’s mind controlling is more like a whisper, a chant. And so Addison took all these different types of sounds of worships to create the Eternals’ powers sound. Pretty awesome.”
A major Hollywood blockbuster is no easy task, especially when there are so many other movies and TV shows being released at the same time from different companies. Heroes from different franchises, like Marvel’s Ikaris and DC’s Superman, pose a particular problem because their abilities are so similar.
Even in the movie, Phastos’ son Jack made the comparison between Superman and Ikaris when they first met. Marvel decided to make this connection canon by referencing the Last Son of Krypton as a character in-universe because of their shared powers. This includes flight and the eye beams.
A yellow color scheme and intense sound effects helped Ikaris’ optical powers make as much of an impact visually as they did audibly. A stark contrast to Superman’s heat vision, which can melt through almost any object in its path, and Ikaris’ simple method of fending off his foes.
In this endeavor, the Eternals’ elemental powers helped far beyond Ikaris, as the team’s skills stood apart and disconnected themselves from anything seen in previous Marvel or DC movies.” Eternals made sure that Ikaris’ abilities were all his own, whether it was through sound or visuals, to distance itself from DC’s powerful hero.