Zhao, who took home the prize for her independent road movie Nomadland, also directed the forthcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film Eternals.
Eternals is set to be released later this year, and stars an ensemble cast which includes Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington and Barry Keoghan.
Responding to Zhao’s win, Marvel fans shared their excitement on social media.
“Marvel can [now] add an Academy Award Winning director to their ranks,” wrote one person. “Eternals just got a huge boost in visibility.”
“Congrats to Chloe Zhao,” wrote someone else. “I was impressed by her work in Nomadland and can’t wait to see what she does with Marvel’s Eternals later this year.”
“Chloé Zhao winning best director at #Oscars just got me even more hyped for @MarvelStudios Eternals,” wrote another person.
Zhao’s historic win made her the first woman of colour to take home the award for Best Director, and only the second woman to win the award in the ceremony’s history (after Kathryn Bigelow, who won for The Hurt Locker in 2009).
The 93rd Academy Awards took place on 25 April, having been delayed for two months due to the ongoing pandemic.
The ceremony was held primarily in Los Angeles’s famed Union Station, with nominees from outside of the US attending the event via international hubs.
Among the other films competing for top awards were Emerald Fennell’s feminist revenge satire Promising Young Woman, and the August Wilson play adaptation Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Going into the night, David Fincher’s Mank had the most nominations (10), including for Best Director, Best Actor for Gary Oldman and Best Supporting Actress for Amanda Seyfried.