When Marvel announced a movie about a group of ancient super-heroes called the Eternals, fans had a lot of expectations.
It was supposed to be an ancient version of the Avengers, or at least stay close to the comic book roots. The trailers suggested they return to stop a threat that would threaten the Earth.
Then the critics saw it…and declared Marvel’s winning streak was finally over.
Then the fans saw it….and realized it’s not the Avengers. Some were not happy, but it seems a lot of fans are once they gave the very different story a chance.
It’s not just the standard super-hero conflict. It’s about people who have guided Earth through its development over thousands of years. There are even flashbacks about what they did, and what they’d wish they could have done.
There’s even marriage, and sex–not usually seen in these movies.
However, there is a big plot twist that rivals the one in Winter Soldier.
Taken all of this together, it’s a movie that’s worthy of a respectable place in the MCU.
It begins like many other Marvel movies. A typical street scene in London is interrupted by an earthquake, then a monster called a Deviant, who causes major damage. This forces two people named Sersi (Gemma Chan) and Sprite (Lia McHugh) to show they are Eternals. Sprite has illusions while Gemma can change matter. Strangely, her boyfriend Dane (Kit Harrington) isn’t exactly surprised. They’re soon joined by another Eternal, Ikarus (Richard Madden). The search starts for the rest of their crew.
They want to find their leader Ajak (Salma Hayek) in South Dakota, but are too late. It is revealed she talked to the head Celestial Arishem, who says “it’s almost time”. Then, Sersi is chosen as the new leader. This will lead to her finding out her group’s true mission.
Later, they find the others. Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) is a Bollywood star. Druig (Barry Keoghan) is the leader of a settlement in the Amazon. Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) as a “retired” inventor with his husband and child. Thena (Angelina Jolie) is also found in Australia. It seems she’s suffering from something similar to dementia, and sometimes attacks her caretaker and fellow Eternal Gilgamesh (Don Lee).
Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) is still in their original ship, waiting to go home. She is also the first deaf heroine in the MCU.
The story seems to be straight-forward: several heroes gather to battle the evil alien threat. Without getting into a lot of details, it’s not that simple. It starts with the revelation of what they are, and their true mission. That causes even more conflict than fighting these guys:
Since the movie runs at more than two and half-hours, fans may get impatient over waiting for the action. It’s written by five people including director Chloe Zhao, and it’s a little overstuffed by quiet discussion. Still, it’s more than battling ugly monsters. It’s about fighting each other after they learn the truth, and what they think about what they’ve been given. They were sent to Earth for a reason, but that affects how they feel about the people they have been guiding. However, they’ve been told not to interfere (even though Druig wishes he could), yet the real reason causes more problems. We won’t say any more. It’s best to see for yourself.
As for the performances, Kumail might be the Tony Stark of the group since he likes fame. Gemma and Richard look like a fine love story in the making, but the reason why he left her ends that dream. Both do very well here, but Richard is more conflicted and really shows it. Brian is great as Phastos, who goes from eager inventor to shocked creator. Salma may be featured in the trailer, but her role is smaller. It’s still key to the movie, as she wants to defend the Earth at any cost.
if there’s any flaw, it’s how the story is resolved. It might remind people of a certain anime show. There’s still one more twist that will hint the saga is far from over.
As for the post-credits, it’s a sign the MCU will get bigger and more diverse. It won’t be just the Avengers anymore.
Eternals will wind up as a divisive movie. Those who like it will appreciate it’s a different part of the MCU, and a road to its future. Those who don’t may have different reasons (too talky, not like the others, no one familiar, not like the comic books). It’s still a movie that is worth trying out because it’s a good attempt to widen the MCU.