John Ridley’s Scrapped Marvel-ABC Project Was An Eternals TV Series

John Ridley Eternals TV series ABC

Back in 2015, writer, director, and producer John Ridley was revealed to be working on a Marvel TV show for ABC. The mysterious project was part of the rapidly expanding slate that started with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and grew to include Agent Carter, as well as Netflix’s Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and eventually Defenders. However, with the dissolution of Marvel Television in 2019, the project was scrapped, and never officially revealed. Until now.

“It’s not in the works anymore,” Ridley told Comic Book Club on last night’s (January 2) live show, when asked about the mysterious project. “It was a television version of The Eternals… But good.”

The news is an interesting reversal of another Marvel property: Inhumans. Originally planned as a movie by Marvel Studios, Inhumans was shunted over to Marvel Television, leading to a critically maligned series in 2017 starring Anson Mount and Iwan Rheon. Contrast that with Eternals, which was developed by Ridley for TV, but ultimately ended up as a critically maligned movie written and directed by Chloé Zhao, released in 2021.

“My version was the good version,” Ridley continued. “It was so f**king 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.”

The version that ended up on screen is a loose adaptation of the comics created by Jack Kirby, which fleshed out a creation myth for the Marvel Universe. First released in 1976, the books introduced the Eternals, a race of near-immortals created by the massive, god-like Celestials to protect Earth from the horrific Deviants. The comics have gone through multiple iterations (as most long-running properties are wont to do), but ultimately that’s the core of the idea.


As for Ridley? Though he didn’t get too in-depth about the property, it sounds like he started in a very, very different place with his take on Eternals.

“My version started with, the first thing you see is a young man, probably about 18 years old,” Ridley said. “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.”

When asked whether he could see any of the bones of his script in what ended up on screen, Ridley laughed. “I can say safely, I didn’t see the bones.”

And beyond that, Ridley was bullishly self-effacing on why his take on Eternals didn’t work. “The best thing that could have happened to me was it didn’t go because… I probably wasn’t the right person for it, and I probably couldn’t make it what it needed to be,” Ridley added. “Other really hyper-talented people, some people loved it, some people didn’t love it. Some people thought it was a great departure. Some people, I think, in retrospect would go, ‘Oh, maybe Marvel should do more departures like that.’ So it’s not whether it was good or bad. It didn’t work. It’s a really hard property. I can tell you the best thing to happen for everybody was that it didn’t happen with me, because I don’t know that it would have been 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.”

You can listen to the full interview, with plenty of talk about Ridley’s comic book work including IDW’s The Ministry of Compliance, below:

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