If you make a quick search of past Marvel film directors, you’ll find that the list is overwhelmingly male. Anna Boden did Captain Marvel , but that was about it. Luckily, times are a-changing. Cate Shortland directed the upcoming Black Widow , while Chloé Zhao will be the first Asian, female director for a movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Zhao, who grew up in Beijing and studied in Los Angeles and New York, is behind the new superhero film, The Eternals , which will be released in November this year. With high-profile stars in the cast, Marvel’s decision to pick an indie filmmaker – moreover a female filmmaker – came as a welcome surprise. However, little is yet known about the creative 37-year-old. She strayed from convention View this post on Instagram A post shared by Vogue (@voguemagazine) on Mar 23, 2018 at 2:30pm PDT Born in Beijing, Chloé Zhao is the daughter of a company manager and a hospital worker. She says she was lazy at school and passed her days by drawing manga for fun. At the age of 15, Zhao was sent to the UK and enrolled in a boarding school before venturing out to the US, where she had the chance to be someone else. “I wanted to be where Michael Jackson was,” she told Vogue magazine, as she felt constricted growing up within an ancient culture that expected her “to be a certain way”. Could these historical heroines be Disney’s new leading ladies? Her debut film was a Native American drama View this post on Instagram SONGS MY BROTHER TAUGHT ME Actor Jashaun St. John & filmmaker Chloé Zhao : photo by Robin Holland. Zhao will be at the 7pm screening tmrw night!! A post shared by Film Forum (@filmforumnyc) on Mar 3, 2016 at 2:35pm PST Zhao loves the plains whether in Mongolia, which she visited during her childhood, or in South Dakota where she made her first feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me . Developed at the Sundance Institute workshop, and produced by Zhao and actor Forest Whitaker, the film tells the story of a rebellious Lakota Sioux teenager and the bond with his younger sister. The film premiered at 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was later screened at the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. It took her a while to find her passion View this post on Instagram This month's #HerStories focus is auteur, Chloé Zhao⚡ THE RIDER, Zhao’s tender feature about the dying ways of rodeo riders in South Dakota, starring real-life Sioux cowboy Brady Jandreau, was one of the most talked-about films at #Cannes last year and just took home best feature film at the #GothamAwards. Zhao was also recently tapped to direct @marvel’s upcoming film The Eternals, making her the third woman, and only the second woman of colour to handle a major movie in the superhero boom Join us this Sunday, 7PM to catch THE RIDER, chosen and presented by KONELĪNE director @nettiewild a cowgirl at heart herself – scroll across to check out Nettie in the third pic!) for our Her Stories: Women Call the Shots series. Stick around for a post-film Q&A and social-mixer with Nettie and host @sabrinarmf A post shared by Vancouver Int. Film Festival (@viffest) on Nov 30, 2018 at 8:36am PST The director graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a political science degree, but later got discouraged in the process. After graduating, she moved to New York and tread water with odd jobs like party-promoter, real-estate and even bartending. The latter gig came as a revelation as she enjoyed learning about other people’s life stories and decided to enrol in the prestigious New York University Tisch School of the Arts graduate programme. STYLE’s best celebrity interviews of the year She doesn’t think we’re doomed Her second feature film, The Rider , won the Art Cinema Award at 2017 Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight and garnered positive reviews, praising her for reinventing the Western. However, what drew Zhao to the project was its authenticity. Her film tells of an injured cowboy who can’t go back to horse riding – a mix between coming-of-age film and a love letter to the heartland of America. The film shows a different perspective of rural, conservative Americans who felt left out of the political system after Trump’s election. Although the film isn’t political, Zhao’s approach to humanising the Western felt relatable to many. “It wasn’t a decision while making the film, but I think subconsciously the team and I wanted to connect with people whose lives are so different from ours. When we are sitting there together while the world is being pulled apart, it makes me feel like it’s not doomsday, like there is hope. We’re not going to kill each other, like the media says we are,” Zhao told The Guardian . She joins a list of female directors who will helm a superhero film in 2020 View this post on Instagram Five of 2020's biggest movies are directed by female directors. #warnerbros Vs #disney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #femaledirectors #BlackWidow #cateshortland #birdsofpreymovie #cathyyan #eternals #eternalsmovie #chloezhao #chloézhao #wonderwoman84movie #pattyjenkins #Mulan #nikicaro #disney #dcuniverse #marvelcinematicuniverse #warnerbros A post shared by DC UNIVERSE FACTORY (@dcu_factory) on Dec 15, 2019 at 7:24pm PST In 2020, four major superhero films will be directed by women. In addition to Zhao and Shortland, Birds of Prey will be directed by Cathy Yan, while Wonder Woman 1984 is helmed by Patty Jenkins – if you count Mulan by Niki Caro, that’s five. Is Anthony Wong seriously left-turning into stand-up comedy? Once the contender to direct Marvel’s Black Widow , Chinese-American Zhao was eventually asked to direct The Eternals – it’s reported that the meeting between the auteur and Marvel’s executives went so well that they offered her the job on the spot. View this post on Instagram The cast of Marvel's "ETERNALS" !!! @marvel The sprawling cast for Marvel Studios' "Eternals" includes Angelina Jolie (Thena), Richard Madden (Ikaris), Kumail Nanjiani (Kingo), Lauren Ridloff (Makkari), Brian Tyree Henry (Phastos), Salma Hayek (Ajak), Lia McHugh (Sprite), Don Lee (Gilgamesh), Kit Harington (Dane Whitman/Black Knight), Gemma Chan (Sersi), and Barry Keoghan (Druig). MCU's 25th superhero movie "Eternals" directed by Chloé Zhao and written by Matthew and Ryan Firpo, in theaters November 6, 2020. : @keoghan92 / @liaryanmchugh #Eternals A post shared by Comic-Con International (@sdcc.2020) on Dec 23, 2019 at 7:29am PST Angelina Jolie, one of the heavyweights cast in The Eternals , also sings the same praises for the director, telling People magazine, “I think Chloé is going to make a special Marvel film. With all the love and respect for others and what makes them work, we hope to add something new.” Want more stories like this? Sign up here . Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .