It’s the worst rated MCU movie on Rotten Tomatoes and it left audiences confused across the world. It was slated throughout the internet and transformed into many distasteful memes. But, despite all this, we believe Eternals was in fact, well, good. Let us take you through it… 3.5/5.
The Plot: Seven thousand years ago a group of immortal aliens, the Eternals, are ordered to defend Earth from evil and soul devouring organisms known as the Deviants. They fight for millennium after millennium, guiding humanity but ultimately unable to interfere with anything not to do with the Deviant invasion (Hence their lack of involvement in the Infinity War) . However, the true purpose of their 7,000 year long mission is hidden from all but two members. When the Eternals are revealed to in fact be bringing upon the destruction of the human race they had sworn to protect the group fractures, conflicts rise and it ultimately culminates in one heavy showdown.
This is not your regular MCU movie: If you didn’t tell me what cinematic universe this film belonged to, removed all the MCU references from the script and let me watch it as it’s own independent movie I would honestly guess it belonged to the DC universe. Firstly, it’s one of the darkest Marvel movies I’ve watched. Eternals is not afraid to explore the sobering reality of mortality among humans which the audience simply cannot ignore. Seeing the characters develop over 7,000 years of human recorded history puts it into perspective how young we are as a species and how our individual lifespans are a drop in a very big ocean. Even our “immortal” Eternals can die, often reaching sudden and unfair ends to their lengthy existences.
The MCU is known for it’s often overly positive views on humanity which ultimately rallies together to defeat a much stronger mutual enemy. This is not a bad thing, we could all use a bit of positivity around our species. But Eternals quite rightly points out our flaws – especially in our history. The massacre of the Aztec Empire and the dropping of the Hiroshima atomic bomb are two poignant and pivotal parts of the movie which makes the Eternals question whether our advancement was worth the cost and suffering.
What you will notice most from Eternals is it’s lack of the trademark MCU comic relief. Even after Thanos snapped his fingers we still had a bumbling Ant Man, an egotistical Hulk and a fat Thor to keep us laughing. In Eternals though, we don’t have that and it’s actually quite a refreshing change. There are a few token comedic characters but it is mostly kept subtle and short lived. The characters are very serious and they take their purpose on this planet equally seriously. They seem to be constantly aware that death is a very real and ever existing threat in their line of work – a far cry from the bullet proof attitude of most other MCU heroes. I whole-heartedly love the MCU, but sometimes I do wonder why every hero is having such a good time during end of world scenarios – it was nice for Eternals to go a different way.
There’s a lot to fit into an already long movie: Eternals is a long and character dense film, with a 156 minute running time and ten unique Eternals heroes to explore within that time frame along with numerous other equally important side characters. This is where I think most people became disillusioned with the movie. The sheer vast number of characters makes it at times difficult to keep track of who has what super power let alone who has what opinion of the mission they were sent to complete. A huge credit to the movie would be that each Eternal does genuinely seem to have their own personality and their own dynamic within the group – but it is difficult to explore this among ten characters. Naturally, some get more screen time than others.
At times there are large lulls in-between combat sequences which can seem dull and filled with needless dialogue. But they are needed. This dialogue helps build the relationships, advance personalities and ultimately lay the building grounds for the grand finale. Again, audiences seem to have reacted negatively perhaps because we are so used to the octane fuelled movies MCU usually produces where a fight scene is never more than 10 minutes away.
The British invasion of cinema continues: If you take into account what I just wrote about in that so many characters are shoved into one movie: then it is only a credit to the actors for being able to portray them so well. There are British actors throughout the MCU, but there is something about Eternals which made it feel like the first major MCU movie led outright by them. Maybe it was the slight focus on London or the quintessentially British humour from Kit Harrington in the opening scenes. Regardless, Richard Madden (Ikaris), Gemma Chan (Sersi) and Kit Harrington (Black Knight) dominate the movie’s most pivotal points and on the most part are allowed to use their regional accents. As any other Game of Thrones fan would agree, I can safely say it is truly wonderful to see the Stark brothers together again in the same movie. Having exhausted most American A list celebrities, could we see the MCU turn to British or other non-American actors to fill the ranks in the future?
The rest of the cast also display an admirable performance in their respective roles. Kumail Nanjiani is one of our standout casting decisions and coincidentally the character who brings the most humour to the film. His tasteful and vibrant display of Indian culture throughout the movie is a nice touch to an already very diverse cast. Credit must also be given to Brian Tyree Henry and Barry Keoghan who consolidated a lot of character development into very limited screen time. Your “big guns” in Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek seem a bit out of place throughout Eternals and out of all the characters you will probably develop the least connection with theirs.
What does this mean for the MCU? The question most people asked upon leaving the cinema and consequently quickly googled on their phones. In short, we are not entirely sure. Eternals leaves a lot of questions unanswered and opens even more loose ends in it’s post-credits scenes.
One thing is certain, the Eternals will be returning to the MCU and will be bringing with them Starfox played by a very surprising choice of Harry Styles (Another Brit). Starfox is the brother of Thanos and hails from Titan but in the comics is also an Eternal. How his role will fit in with the greater MCU we do not know but it is certainly intriguing.
Then we have the final post credits scene where Kit Harrington opens up his ancestral footlocker to find the sword of the legendary Dark Knight only for a voice to interrupt him stating “Are you sure you’re ready for that Mr. Whitman?”. That voice has been confirmed as that of Mahershala Ali who is cast to play Blade in the standalone MCU film later this year. This confirms to us that we can expect to see at least two sword wielding heroes grace our screens in the expanding MCU. Both are known in the comics as anti-heroes to help fight against Kang the Conqueror who we met in Loki. We are genuinely excited to see their stories unfold before us.
It becomes clearer and clearer that the MCU is changing. Universes are merging, convoluting and warring and heroes such as the Falcon and other earthly beings powers can at times seem insignificant. This is the era of witches and wizards, gods and eternals, knights and demons. What Eternals does tell us is that despite Earth’s technological deficit and small size – it will likely once again be the centre of the war for the fate of not just one but multiple universes.
To watch or not to watch: Watch.
Can I stream it: Yes – Disney
Child friendly: Yes.
Can I watch this with my parents: Yes.