November 5, 2021 saw the release of Eternals, the much anticipated next movie of the MCU franchise, but it was met with much dislike amongst the fans. While the movie had great potential — it was the rise of the next big wave in MCU history, created one of the most diverse casts ever seen as a superhero team, and had some fascinating themes to delve into — it still managed to fall short. Even I, a diehard Marvel fan, couldn’t make it through the movie without the feeling of frustration settling in. That being said, I think it should also be rewarded for what it got right. There were some moments that were generally enjoyable that made the rest worthwhile to sit through.
First off, I think the idea behind Eternals is a generally good idea. It explores the world of Celestials, beings of supreme power who live off in space… somewhere, and the Eternals, immortals created by the Celestials to foster intelligent life across the galaxy. It is new and has a lot of potential to open up the MCU as a whole. It also had a very interesting commentary on the fine lines between how we see good and evil. Eternals went to lengths to show that good and evil is all a matter of perspective, complete with some very surprising recasting of the sides before the credits roll.
Another strength was that it had some very pretty visuals. The powers of the Eternals looked unique and stunning in their own way, and this held true from Eternal to Eternal. The differences in the Eternals’ powers and personalities and the way they played off each other for better or worse was accurate to how any real group of individuals would function.
The biggest issue with Eternals is that it tries to do too much for a two hour movie. It is trying to give a back story with conveniently placed flashbacks, introduce ten new heroes all at once, as well as introduce the audience to the concept of Celestials in the first place. In its attempt to tie everything together in one movie, it leaves it feeling unplanned and haphazard. The audience is rushed through an explanation of what’s happening to be pulled into a fight scene, which is then interrupted by more exposition and domestic scenes that, while refreshing to see in a Marvel movie, take up too much time for a movie that is trying to explain everything at once. Lots of time is spent bringing the Eternals back together, after breaking them apart, as well as trying to get the audience attached to them. Which may have been successful if you could keep track of how many Eternals there are. The original Avengers movie combined six well established characters into one fight, without trying to cover their history, which is where our new movie fails. I think they wanted to bring us a new Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy but tried to develop too many characters all at once and too far. Despite all the work on characters, I still felt unattached to them and many of them still make decisions that don’t make sense. There is a difference between a character making a bad choice because of their personality and because of the writing, and this was the latter. In trying to take on these characters, they leave the final battle feeling rather rushed and unsatisfying.
Many of their explanations I found to also be unsatisfactory and somewhat contradictory, like why they never interfere with human affairs or have been seen before, yet meddled in them all the time in the past. The quick write offs ultimately felt like a quick explanation to patch a hole left by the writers.
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The final battle ends when they turn the new celestial being into marble to stop it from climbing out of the Earth. One might expect that a giant alien climbing out of the crust of the Earth would be enough to throw off something in the Earth’s balance, or at least be worthy of some press coverage, but no. Giant marble colossus shall never be mentioned again. This is just one example of an issue that overall makes this movie not feel like a Marvel movie. Eternals lacks the core of what makes Marvel movies what they are: well developed, complex characters, well thought out plots, and an overall connection being made. It feels isolated, and dare I say it, almost like a DC movie.
Eternals has some really good ideas that got bogged down by heavy plots and trying to do too much. I truly think this could have been amazing if they had split the content into two movies, or better yet, broken it into its own Disney Plus show. This would have allowed it to expand on the concepts, develop out their ideas further, and give the plot twists the time they genuinely deserved. This would have allowed the movie to wrap up ideas well and for everything to flow together naturally. Overall, Eternals is probably worth a watch for people invested into the MCU as a whole. It is going to set up some big things for the universe, you just have to be willing to get through some rough patches.