Marvel’s Eternals might leave you with more questions than answers
It might be time to brush up on your Marvel Comics lore before catching Eternals in theatres.
On 4 Nov, Marvel Studios premiered its 26th movie Eternals. As you might expect from the number of movies in Marvel’s pantheon, it’s starting to get complicated.
Eternals follows Sersi (played by Gemma Chan) and nine others like her called Eternals. They came to Earth 7,000 years ago to fight Deviants, which are monstrous apex predators that prey on humanity. After the Deviants are wiped out however, they are instructed to stay on Earth without reason, until a new purpose shows up in the present day.
With a runtime of two hours and 37 minutes, this is the second longest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) – beat out only by Avengers: Endgame which was three hours long. Despite this, it still feels like some characters or dynamics were underdeveloped, likely because of the sheer number of characters in this film.
While this is not Marvel’s first attempt at a movie with an ensemble cast, it does feel like the first time this format has hurt rather than helped their storytelling.
There are ten characters in the Eternals team alone that need to be introduced in this movie, which leaves little time to flesh out their relationships and motivations. As such, some decisions and revelations come seemingly out of nowhere, because the audience knows too little about these characters to believe their actions.
Since the film features solely characters and villains from the comics, and introduces world-changing new information about the MCU, it can be hard to keep up with at times. Casual fans might be put off by how foreign this movie seems in comparison with recent films like Black Widow and Shang-Chi, which both had clear ties to the previously established storylines in the MCU.
That being said, Eternals is notably Marvel’s most diverse film to date. Not only is the ensemble cast racially diverse, there is also a deaf and mute Eternal who communicates smoothly with her team, whose disability is not viewed as a hindrance but accepted as part of her.
Her inclusion lends realism to the film as a whole, but also helps to sell some of the movie’s stronger overarching themes.
Some of the actors introduced to the MCU might throw off fans, though. Most notable is Angelina Jolie, who plays the Eternal Thena. While Jolie adds emotion and depth to the character, the sight of the actress herself may be jarring at first as she is such a recognisable face. Kit Harington, who plays Dane Whitman, may also feel out of place to fans who know him from Game of Thrones.
Surprisingly, the heart of the show lies with the human characters. Since the plot was centred around the immortal Eternals trying to save the earth, these side characters lent the film some much-needed humour in their time on screen.
Overall, Eternals is an enjoyable watch. If theatregoers can look past the sometimes confusing lore and multiple subplots, they will find a cast of characters that have palpable chemistry on screen, and heart-rending performances by most if not all of the cast.