Eternals is confusing in how it comes across—somehow it could have both terrible and great moments in the same 30 seconds. The first third or so of the movie was, honestly, just not good. I don’t remember the last time I watched a MCU film for the first time and thought, “uh oh, this is bad.” But it picks up steam over time, and there are genuinely delightful moments of humor, action, and character focus. Personally, I thought Sersi and Ikaris were some of the most bland personalities around, so the film’s primary focus on those two definitely didn’t do it for me and weighed it down too much. There were phenomenal emotional moments between some characters throughout, but they were few and far between. Phastos, for example, has some incredible interactions with Ikaris in the climax, but it mostly felt like it came out of nowhere. I do think that there were too many things going, and not much was given enough attention to allow it to be great. Still, I am excited about a lot of the MCU elements that Eternals brought, including Celestials (visually, they were so stunning that I would have watched two and a half hours of them just hanging out), several of the Eternals themselves (my favorites going forward are Makkari, Druig, Phastos, and Kingo), and the expansion of the cosmic MCU overall. At the end of the day, I would not say it’s a “good” movie—there are too many forced, cringey, and otherwise bad moments compared to the good ones. But I’m still pretty happy with how Eternals fits in the MCU and the new material it gave us.
Eternals opened a new chapter in the MCU that exudes freshness and uniqueness in terms of content delivery. Chloé Zhao confronted the myth of superhero, or in this case, God, by deconstructing and reinterpreting certain beliefs and myths. Zhao crafted a love letter to the world and humankind that also serves as a warning against our self-destructive nature, placing the film in the context of global issues such as climate change. Despite the narrative and script problems, Eternals will stay in my heart for a long time by its balance between scale and momentousness, and intimacy and proximity.
I loved Eternals! I can see that it isn’t a typical Marvel Studios film, and that’s OK. Part of the beauty of a cinematic universe is that teams can try out different things and still have the space to develop them. I thought it was brilliant and showed a continuing evolution of the studio, that there were no outright binary evil villains, but rather just different perspectives on the matter at hand. I adored the hope in the message of needing to band together collaboratively to prevent ecological devastation. The performances of the actors really played into this element. It’s clear that Sersi is burdened by the beauty of humanity, with her first line, in contrast to Ikaris’ stoicism. Chloe Zhao’s framing of shots and the lighting adds to the mythological feeling of the film. I’m really looking forward to how the film changes the MCU. On one hand introducing 10 lead characters is a lot, but on the other hand that is again the beauty of a continuing universe that we will visit them again. Perhaps we can change our expectations somewhat to align with this, and in that way Eternals is changing cultural expectations of cinema. It would be brilliant for Marvel Studios to follow through on this forward charge by announcing a green-lit sequel sooner rather than later!
The fight between Ikaris and the Eternals? Really great. Marvel doing super speed, and a fight between a speedster and a God, better than DC has ever done it? Amazing. The first half was a lot of mythology and deep Marvel cuts, and a GRC mention puts it at the same time more or less as FWS. That helps set this apart from Shang Chi, IMO, in the sense that the parts in the US didn’t seem to be connected to the rest of the Earth MCU (not a knock, just an observation). Thor knowing them was cool too, and I wonder if we are going to find out that the Asgardians were also created by the Celestials like they are in the Ultimates. I’d give it a 8/10. Kro was whatever, and some of the deviant designs weren’t great, and I don’t love them being advanced robots, but man, there was a lot of good there.
Also: Mahershala Ali making his debut, with the Ebony Blade being tied to Dracula and Moon Knight, means that we are on the road to a version of the Midnight Sons. You know what I’d like? For them to go with Alejandra Jones’s Ghost Rider (she’s the female Ghost Rider), and be called the Avengers of the Supernatural instead. Either way, Eternals was very good.
Marvel’s Eternals is an absolutely beautiful, earnest jumble of thoughts and ideas. The film gets off to a bumpy start, with a first act that tries to cram a plethora of characters and information into a total runtime that could have lasted over three hours. However, once the movie is allowed to hit the points it’s really trying to make, it begins to tell an epic story of humanity through the eyes of gods in a way only Chloé Zhao could muster. Ultimately, the film is imperfect and awkwardly paced, but a worthy and welcome addition to the zeitgeist of Marvel’s modern blockbuster.
Eternals is a strange piece to me. It’s far from what we are used to from Marvel Studios, as it’s less about a bombastic setting but rather explores a more personal story in a larger setting. The lore and exploration of history are curious, but most everything is in service of character. The film is less a Marvel movie but an indie film with a blockbuster coat. It avoids linear storytelling to explore history in service of character rather than to build up to its end goal. In a way, it’s also its biggest fault, as revelations are giving less weight besides a large info dump. There are fewer highs in this that could mask its early troubles and the characters don’t earn their revelations. On the one hand, it plays into the story’s structure about a “higher purpose” which is more poignant in the finale than early on. What truly makes this film work for some and not others is dependent on your interest in the characters. The film takes more nuance in making you care for them than their actual journey, especially evident in the Emergence’s lack of a “timing.” We know it’s happening but not when or where until we enter the confrontation. The investment in these characters overshadowed this issue and made it quite a visually captivating and new take on heroic deconstruction.
Personally, Eternals is the MCU’s most intriguing entry to date. By only having watched it once, I’m trying to allow myself to go beyond my immediate response to the movie, which wasn’t all that positive. I’m now expecting to have a more definite opinion in the coming days after going back for more viewings. All things considered, I do believe it did way more things right than what it might have done wrong. The cosmology of the MCU has been reshaped in a way that I simply adore, opening the doors for the MCU to finally become a proper Universe in and of itself. At the same time I’m not completely sold on the pacing when introducing a dozen new characters and their relationships over millennia, all while world-building within such a large scope. At the end of the day I’m still highly intrigued by what might come next for these characters and the MCU as a whole, meaning Eternals accomplished what every entry this franchise has to see as a win: it kept audiences engaged and wanting more.
When I watched Eternals for the first time I was like “WHOA”. I honestly felt that it was a little too god and goddess-y for Marvel. I also felt that some of the characters were out of place, including, Angelina Jolie and Barry Keoghan’s Thena and Druig. In the end, I just didn’t connect with them; however, I connected with Sprite and Kingo who both made me laugh so many times. If I were to rank this movie in comparison to the other Marvel Studios’ movies, it would probably be right in the middle. I liked the story line, however, there was a lot of information in the movie and I feel as though it was just all crammed in. On the other hand, it had great introductions to the all of the new characters, some of whom I would like to see again and others…not so much.
After my first screening of Eternals, I felt a lot of frustration. Frustrated at the changes made to the origins of the Eternals; frustrated at the changes made to and the use of the Deviants; frustrated at some editing choices that took me out of the film. Outside of those frustrations, I was also really disappointed in some of the performances in the film. Angelina Jolie’s performance tops the list of ones that I wish I could forget, closely followed by Salma Hayek. Jolie seemed to be there just to pose and smolder while Hayek’s expressionless face belied the allegedly maternal emotions of the character. At times I could argue that Arishem emoted more than Ajak. Fortunately, these performances were balanced out by the rest of the cast. Kumail Nanjiani was brilliant and the Bollywood scene is among the high points of the film; Richard Madden played Ikaris as the arrow he is described to be; and Lia McHugh delivered an adult-sized range of emotions to the role.
Following my second screening, it was clear that while the many of the problems remained the same, the film is less problematic than I originally believed it to be and I found myself less frustrated and enjoyed it quite a bit more. I originally thought it moved along great until the flashback around 35 minutes in (Tenochtitlan) and attributed the decision to flashback again there to taking me out of the film. In truth, that flashback isn’t the problem. It’s a huge part of the overall narrative as it explains Thena’s memory loss and why the group drifts apart. In my second screening, I realized it wasn’t the story that lost me but the really uninspiring performances by the two actors who shared the bulk of that chunk of the film: Jolie and Barry Keoghan. In fact, if the really wanted Druig to put Tiamut to sleep, they could probably just show him that part of the film and be done with it. At no point during the film, did either one these actors elicit any sort of emotion from me other than an eye roll. I’ve read criticisms that there are too many characters and while I can agree with that to an extent, I think some of that might be lessened if the people portraying them made them interesting.
Chloe Zhao did do something magnificent here. This film’s scale was not too big for her, as some have said. She weaved a fascinating narrative against an incredibly beautiful backdrop. She explored the bonds between us that can just as easily form as they can break and the hold that memories can have on all of us. She wrote the earliest chapter of the history of the MCU and wow did she deliver on the size and scope of the Celestials; not just physically, but in who they are and what they do (I was thrilled to see them adopt the Earth X plot, which I guessed they might way back when). At the end of the day, it seems like she checked a lot of boxes but, as the director of these actors, missed one big one: getting solid performances out of all of them. This isn’t a top-tier MCU film, but I think it might end up being something like Avengers: Age of Ultron in that after a few years, it’ll be one to revisit and might look like an entirely different film. Zhao had a Herculean task here in not only telling the tale of the MCU’s entire past but also setting up a huge chunk of its future (including two great scenes in the mid and post credits, one of which is top 5 of its kind in the MCU); she did an admirable job on the first part and only in time will we be able to truly judge how she did with the second half of that task. While I didn’t love Eternals, I fully support Zhao’s return for the sequel.
Before watching Eternals I assumed that I would be diving into another team like the Guardians of the Galaxy or the Avengers, however, the plot of this story was much different. To start off, I think that the drastic timeline and different events that took place within the movie were a good way to incorporate real history into the MCU, but I also think it took away from the actual Eternals. When watching the movie I was more drawn into the plot and the setting of the movie than the characters. I believe that characters such as Thena and Druig could have had a much more present role in the movie because of the extent of their powers and what they are capable of doing. I also thought that the way the Eternals were portrayed was a little too much ancient Greece and not enough MCU. On the other hand, the way that Sprite was turned into a human was a very good addition to the end of the movie. With this action, in later movies we might be able to find Sprite to be a more influential character if she is able to be more comfortable as an adult. Overall, the Eternals was much different then the average Marvel movie but had a little too much going on to really understand the characters.