An insider look at Marvel Studios’ newest film Eternals will debut on Nov. 20 as part of the groundbreaking new Smithsonian “FUTURES” exhibition at the historic Arts and Industries Building (AIB). Exploring new evolutions in storytelling and world-building, the display will feature five original costumes from the movie and new behind-the-scenes details of how new technologies are enhancing the ability of cinema to illustrate new futures.
On view through July 2022, “FUTURES” will be the first major building-wide exploration of the future on the National Mall and will temporarily reopen America’s oldest national museum for the first time in nearly two decades. The part-exhibition, part-festival will celebrate the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary with more than 150 objects, ideas, prototypes, and installations that fuse art, technology, design, and history to help imagine possible futures on the horizon.
Eternals are the newest storyline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, originally a futuristic comic book series created and written in 1976 by the legendary Jack Kirby and now brought vividly to life by Academy Award-winning director Chloé Zhao. The epic story, spanning thousands of years, features a group of immortal heroes forced out of the shadows to reunite against mankind’s oldest enemy, the Deviants, to fight for the future.
“Since comics first came to prominence in the U.S. in the 1930s, they’ve flourished as an exciting new form of storytelling featuring entire universes with their own languages, cultures, people, heroines, and places,” said Ashley Molese, curator at AIB. “Leaping from comic page to the screen, Marvel has helped create a whole new experience of world-building and future casting. ‘Eternals’ takes some radical approaches to filmmaking by playing with scale and visual effects in ways never seen before in the MCU, time-traveling through humanity’s earliest civilizations to beyond the cosmos.”
Visitors will be able to come face to face with original costumes of Sersi (Gemma Chan), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Druig (Barry Keoghan) and Ikaris (Richard Madden) within the exhibition’s Futures that Inspire hall, a space designed to explore leaps of imagination. Exclusive behind-the-scenes content will look at the evolution from a sketch on paper to visual effects to the finished film. A new cinematic augmented-reality experience, also available via the iOS app, will introduce a technique of immersive storytelling that invites visitors to discover new interactive movie-like worlds.
“We share stories as a way to imagine endless other possibilities and to more fully understand others’ visions for the future,” said Rachel Goslins, director of AIB. “‘FUTURES’ is designed to help us push beyond what we think we may know. The ability to imagine new worlds in a way that feels emotional and real is a powerful tool to bring new visions to life.”
The Eternals display joins other comic and science-fiction inspired artwork that showcases the visual language and cultural creative power of future world-building, including a new comic concept for “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” by Native American artist Jeffrey Veregge, the typewriter of science fiction visionary Octavia Butler, an Afrofuturism-inspired artwork set in an imagined Black utopia in “Cosmic Listening” by Stacey Robinson, the award-winning video game “Never Alone” that transforms the oral storytelling tradition of the Iñupiat tribe into a beautifully realized playable adventure, a seminal painting by 1960s space art visionary Chesley Bonestell, new promotional posters of speculative Smithsonian exhibitions debuting in the year 2071 by artist Brian Miller and more.
“It’s exciting to see Eternals costumes on display at the Smithsonian in this new FUTURES exhibit,” said Nate Moore, who, along with Kevin Feige, is the producer of the film. “Imagination, storytelling, and world-building form the foundation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and these costumes are great examples of that. Immense thought and detail went into their design, created by Ryan Meinerding and his visual development team and costume designer Sammy Sheldon Differ, and we hope visitors will find themselves transported into the world of Jack Kirby and the Eternals while viewing them.”
“FUTURES” is the Smithsonian’s first major building-wide exploration of the future and will temporarily reopen its oldest museum for the first time in nearly two decades. The part-exhibition, part-festival, designed by award-winning architecture firm Rockwell Group, will celebrate the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary with more than 150 awe-inspiring objects, ideas, prototypes, and installations that fuse art, technology, design, and history to help visitors imagine many possible futures on the horizon. A digital “FUTURES” Guide by award-winning firm Goodby Silverstein & Partners will launch in early 2022.
On view, Nov. 20 through July 6, 2022, “FUTURES” will be open every day except Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with extended hours until 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission will be free, and no timed tickets are currently required. For more information and to plan a visit, the public can go to aib.si.edu.
“FUTURES” is made possible by a select group of sponsors and supporters: Amazon Web Services, Autodesk, Bell Textron Inc., Jacqueline B. Mars, John and Adrienne Mars, the Embassy of the State of Qatar, David M. Rubenstein, and SoftBank Group. Major support is also provided by the Annenberg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Kevin S. Bright and Claudia W. Bright, and Robert Kogod. Additional funding is provided by Accenture, John Brock III, Events DC, First Solar, Ford Motor Company, Wendy Dayton, Charlie and Nancy Hogan, the Suzanne Nora Johnson and David Johnson Foundation, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, MedWand Solutions, National Football League, the National Football Players Association and Oracle.