Marvel’s Eternals: Movie Review


Katya Luzarraga and Tina Su discuss the positive and negative aspects of the new Marvel movie “Eternals,” despite the varied reviews flooding in.

“Eternals”, was released on Nov. 5, 2021, following the high standards set by “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” a fellow Marvel movie. The movie introduced a new team of superheroes called “Eternals,” who have been secretly living on Earth for thousands of years and were artificially created to battle the Deviants.

The story takes the viewers through important moments in history, showing the involvement of the Eternals that leads to the way society is, in present day. The Eternals are played by Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie, an incredible cast of actors and actresses.

The movie starts out with Sersi, played by Gemma Chan, finding out that the Deviants are back, with fellow Eternal, Sprite, played by Lia McHugh. They soon reunite with Sersi’s past love, Ikaris, played by Richard Madden. The three of them make their way to the home of leader Ajak, played by Salma Hayek, only to find out she’s dead. Following, they begin their journey to reunite with the other Eternals.

Warning: spoilers ahead for “The Eternals”

Tina Su:

The movie conjured up one of the lowest Rotten Tomatoes scores by Marvel in a long time, 46%. For reference, many Marvel fans deem the worst movies of the MCU as “Thor: The Dark World” and “The Hulk,” both receiving scores of 66% and 67%, respectively.

One would expect that with top-tier actors, a budget of $200 million and the incredible skill set available at Marvel, it would be another groundbreaking movie, but it completely fell short. Many believe “Eternals” deserved the Rotten Tomatoes score it received, and the high expectations set by Marvel in the past were not met.

The casting and visual effects were on point, as expected, and there was a refreshing amount of diversity, with different ethnicities, sexualities and disabilities featured within the characters. However, the explanation of the plot felt unclear and rushed, despite the almost three hour length of the movie.

The twists throughout the movie felt mundane due to the way that they were presented. For example, when the betrayal of Ikaris occurred in the middle of the movie, there was no buildup or suspense. It was just sudden. Usually, after viewers are let in on a secret, several events occur to build tension until the other characters finally find out, making it more impactful. I didn’t feel that pattern occur in this movie, leaving me unsatisfied with the way it played out.

Even the climax, when the Eternals are trying to stop the Emergence from occurring, fell short. Honestly, when I was watching this part, I didn’t even notice it was happening. It even paled in comparison to the climax of “Black Widow,” which is deemed mediocre by critics. There was minimal fighting and no emotional pull to either side of the conflict. A tell tale sign of a good movie is when viewers feel passionate about the characters and their conflict, but it was barely noticeable when the Eternals had succeeded in stopping the Emergence because there was such a small difference in acting, emotions or background music.

However, Marvel’s famous double post-credit scenes were one of the redeeming factors of this movie. Like most other credit scenes, the viewers are introduced to a new factor of the story, leading to a cliffhanger. In the mid-credit scene, we are brought to the ship of the Eternals, and we see Thena, Druig and Makkari on a mission to find other Eternals to reveal the truth about their origins. This scene brought up feelings of suspense and worry for the Eternals back on Earth as an unfamiliar face teleports on board the ship. Eros, played by none other than Harry Styles, informs them that their friends are in trouble. This scene not only revealed a possible new ally to the Eternals, but a new storyline to continue the story. In the end credit scene, we learn Dane Whitman, Sersi’s human love interest, has a connection to the Eternals, igniting hope and excitement in Marvel fans for the future. The last thing we hear brings up the question, “What is next for the Eternals?” Hopefully, better movies to come.

Katya Luzarraga:

“Eternals” is a modern revival of the Marvel name, creating a beautifully made and refreshing superhero movie that audiences will love and respect. The movie spotlights a remodeled brand of superheroes that begin the new era of Marvel.

Stepping away from the usual mold of MCU movies, “Eternals” takes a contemporary angle on superheroes as the beloved age of Marvel Avengers movies comes to a close. Oscar winning director, Chloé Zhao, brings to life the characters of Ajak, Ikaris, Sersi, Thena, Druig, Sprite, Gilgamesh, Kingo, Makkari and Phastos in her modern interpretation of Jack Kirby’s comic “Eternals.” The casting of each character was meticulously done, maintaining present-day trends and showing that representation has arrived in the superhero universe. Salma Hayek is a breath of fresh air in her role as ‘Ajak,’ the leader of the Eternals as opposed to the original Ajak being a white male.

“I think it’s wonderful because it’s not just one thing, but it’s the welcoming of everything,” Hayek said in an interview with Variety.

In a world mainly dominated by male protagonists, it’s inspiring to see a woman leading the team. Although brief, Ajak’s role in “Eternals” conveys that women are strong enough, no matter background or age, to make a difference. Transforming Ajak into a Mexican woman opened the doors to Marvel rearranging future characters and bringing light to the diversity of actors in the Marvel Universe.

Alongside Hayek, Lauren Ridloff adjusts the character of Makkari from a hearing white male to a deaf Black woman, and Brian Tyree Henry brings to life Phastos as the first ever gay superhero in Marvel’s history. The presence of a different variety of superheroes—some with their own set of human superpowers—reimagines what a superhero really is and who can play them.
Deafness isn’t Makkari’s entire character either as she showcases both speed and intelligence. Instead, it enhances her character and creates a spotlight for superheroes with disabilities. It’s empowering for the hard of hearing community to see an authentic depiction of disabilities in a major movie like “Eternals,” and it is hopefully the beginning of diversifying the film industry.

Brian Tyree Henry is real and vulnerable in his role as Phastos, the Eternal who created and gave humanity technologies. Henry’s empathy and expressivity is the most powerful way his character connects with the audience. Later in the movie, it is revealed that he has a husband and son, introducing a long needed connection of the LGBTQ+ community to the world of the MCU. The significance of a gay protagonist in a Marvel film is unparalleled. An immortal being with superhuman powers chooses love, and audiences are moved by that level of pure humanity.

“…Kids, young queer folk, who are being bullied, committing suicide and not seeing themselves being represented? And now they get to see this—it’s above and beyond,” Haaz Sleiman said on playing Phastos’ husband in Marvel’s “Eternals.”

Reviews have expressed that historic flashbacks within the movie created a rushed and unclear plot of “Eternals.” I can see where they’re coming from, but the main focus of the movie was how the Eternals would come together to defeat the Deviants and save the world. In that sense, the background of going into the past was absolutely necessary as without it, the characters would be incomplete.

The production of “Eternals” showcases the director’s mastery in creating a beautiful portfolio of scenes and landscapes. Zhao took a completely different approach to a Marvel movie by choosing to highlight humanity’s connection to the planet instead of delving into the real conflict of the movie head on.

A crucial part in the movie is when we learn that the Celestials artificially created the Deviants first, but when they got out of control the Eternals were developed. The Eternals are just puppets of the Celestials, and this is so meaningful for the audience who’s watched the development of each Eternals’ life. By revealing that the Deviants were the true creation of the Celestials, the plot is deepened by making the Eternals and Deviants “siblings.”

Every piece of cinematography shot by Zhao illustrates the story of the Eternals. Going from modern-day London, Chicago and Mumbai to Mesopotamia 5,000 BCE and all the way to the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521 is ambitious, and some people may have lost the plot within these time shifts. But those who didn’t lose the plot can appreciate how the storytelling of each character is strategically weaved into these moments.

“The gift of Marvel is that you have this incredible sandbox, this playground that’s been invented, and you can add whatever you want,” co-writer of “Eternals” Kaz Firpo said in an interview with The Ringer.

“Eternals” is a commanding movie that is the new conversation piece of Marvel Cinematic Universe. Zhao breathes life and relevance into the next era of Marvel as she explores the historic past of humanity and our connection to the planet.