Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani has explained that director Chloé Zhao gave him the confidence to improvise as much as possible on set.
Speaking exclusively to TechRadar during Eternals' press tour, Nanjiani revealed that he was given the freedom to experiment with plenty of humor at certain points during the MCU movie's production.
Nanjiani, who portrays Kingo, is well known for his comedic turns in projects including The Big Sick, Silicon Valley and Stuber. But, Nanjiani explains, signing onto an MCU flick made him slightly nervous about the prospect of being able to crack jokes or improvise during filming. That is, until Zhao gave him the green light to adlib when the time was right.
"Yeah, there was a lot of improv," Nanjiani tells us. "Obviously there are scenes where you can't change anything, but there were some scenes where Chloé told me 'say something different' for certain takes."
Marvel movies are known for their amusing moments. Based on the vibe of Eternals' two main trailers, though, some fans had been a bit concerned that the MCU flick may not carry the same weight as previous Marvel films in the humor department.
But Nanjiani, whose on-screen relationship with Harish Patel's Karun – Kingo's manager and valet driver – is a highlight of Eternals, suggests that Marvel's latest movie entry retains the comedy element that's been present in other MCU flicks.
"Yeah, it does [have that humor]," Nanjiani adds. "That [improvising on set] was really exciting – it was like jumping out of a plane as Chloé had so much trust in me to come up with something unique. It was fun to have that kind of freedom because I trusted her so much that I knew I couldn't fail. I could just go for it and she would pull me back in if I went too far."
Analysis: Marvel is eternally bringing the humor
It's pleasing that Eternals follows in the footsteps of previous Marvel movies with its blend of action, heart and humor.
As we mentioned above, some fans were slightly worried that Eternals would be the most serious entry in the MCU so far. Having seen the film, though, we can confirm that there are plenty of amusing moments for Marvel fans to enjoy.
It'll be interesting to see which of Nanjiani's jokes were left on the cutting room floor. After all, the actor is renowned for his humorous anecdotes on and off screen. So we're holding out hope that Nanjiani may get his own DVD or Blu-ray extra feature that reveal which of his improvised lines were too zany for Eternals.
Unfortunately, it seems that Eternals' light-hearted moments weren't to everyone's taste. At the time of writing, the film has a 60% critical rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab). That makes it the worst reviewed MCU movie ever.
Still, that is only what the critics think of the upcoming flick. Marvel fans and general cinemagoers are likely to enjoy it far more than those who have reviewed it so far. We have our own thoughts on Eternals, so be sure to check back in with TechRadar later this week for our spoiler-free review.
In the meantime, read up on everything we know about Spider-Man: No Way Home, the next MCU movie to arrive after Eternals.
Eternals will be released exclusively in theaters on Friday, November 5.