How ‘Eternals’ could be the glory or downfall of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Courtesy of Walt Disney Co

When audience members were introduced to the highly-anticipated cast for “Eternals,” the world went haywire. As Marvel’s most diverse cast, they made sure to showcase each character as much as they could to hype fans up. New teasers went up on Marvel Studios’ official Instagram page for weeks before the newest posters for each character were shown. Seeing familiar A-list faces like Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan and more in their characters’ costumes created a train of thrills and anticipation for the film’s release. 

“Eternals” takes place five years after the events from “Avengers: Endgame.” The group is comprised of 10 members: Ajak (Salma Hayek), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Sersi (Gemma Chan), Druig (Barry Keoghan), Makari (Lauren Ridloff), Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) and Sprite (Lia McHugh). Each possesses unique abilities and personalities that were created by Arishem, their leader and a celestial. They were originally placed on Earth thousands of years ago to protect the world from man-eating creatures called deviants. Once every deviant was destroyed, each member went their own way and were soon caught up living new lives in the modern era. Their new lives are thrown into a whirlpool of chaos when a deviant suddenly re-emerges, causing the Eternals to join forces once again to restore peace and safety for humanity. This is only the sub-plot of the film as the biggest and most important plot reveals itself to be the task to prevent the emergence of a celestial whose birth would result in the demise of planet Earth. 

Having a family reunion after being apart for thousands of years can bring awkwardness to the big screen, which Chloe Zhao knows how to showcase. Known for her academy-award-winning film “Nomadland,” Zhao knew how to wrench our hearts throughout the storyline. 

Many people were thrilled to see Ikaris and Sersi brought back together as their romance and marriage abruptly ended in the first few minutes of the film, yet their romance can cause a headache as it feels like a tug-of-war of going back and forth with hopelessness as scenes go by. Their love for each other is definitely a strong bond that has connected them for years, but Ikaris’ shameful acts draw them further away from each other towards the end. 

Kumail Nanjiani did a spectacular job in being the comedian of the group as Kingo. Several of his jokes and humorous expressions were able to lighten up the mood in awkward moments throughout the film. With the help of his trusty assistant, Karun (Harish Patel), the duo become an unforgettable pair. 

One character that deserves a spotlight is Druig. His personality consists of arrogance and witty remarks, but the most unique thing about him is that he is one of the few Eternals that wants to interfere in humanity’s problems. The Eternals are given the task to solely kill deviants and cannot interfere with humanity’s problems. Druig believes that the Eternals should interfere to make human life peaceful and easier to glide along, but Ajak tells him that he cannot defy Arishem’s orders. Druig decides to use his power of mind control to drive civilians out of war and proceeds to walk away from the family he has grown up with.

The film also delivers enchanting scenes, especially between Druig and Makari whose romance was often overshadowed by Icarus and Sersi. Druig and Makari could have been the ultimate power couple in this movie and could have shown how love can truly be a beautiful, sweet feeling. If one thing can be said about the film, it’s that it knows how to build love as a defying emotion for each character. 

Unfortunately, many reviews for “Eternals” were mixed. The Rotten Tomatoes critic consensus gave it a disappointing 48% while the audience score rose to 80%. Many in the 48% range thought that the film was lackluster, even with such high-ranking celebrity actors. Many critics either thought that it was too long to even be entertained or believed that the film simply didn’t fulfill the expectations that Marvel had created for it.  

Yet, the audience score can speak for itself. It is believed that the only reason why “Eternals” is being critiqued so harshly is for a number of reasons that don’t correlate with the contents of the movie at all. One of them is that the director is a woman. According to an article in Variety, action films, which are mainly associated with male directors, that are directed by a female director will receive even harsher critiques. The same occurred with director Cathy Yan in her film “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” which incorporates an array of female characters and violence. Both of these women walked into the superhero world but had their movies eventually degraded. Another reason is the fact that Zhao directed the drama “Nomadland” that led many to believe that “Eternals” would resemble it in some way. Zhao had already established herself as a specific kind of director, so when many found out that she was directing the next biggest Marvel film, people had their own opinions about it. 

Verdict: Although cheesy in some parts that could cause eye rolls and other signs of confusion, the movie overall shows how Marvel is expanding its audience by representing different backgrounds. Even with such diversity, this film is 50/50 for many people, but “Eternals” will certainly change the way we view MCU movies from now on. 

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