A Critique of Eternals (2021)

Cover image for ETERNALS / produced by Kevin Feige, Nate Moore, Juan Cano Nono, Andreas Wentz ; screenplay by Chloae Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, Kaz Firpo ; directed by Chloae Zhao.

Since the dawn of time, an eternal war has been waged across the universe: the Eternals, immortal aliens gifted with abilities to stop the Deviants, monstrous creatures who seek only death and destruction. Earth has been one such battleground for these two groups, and for millennia the Eternals have protected the seeds of humanity and allowed them to flourish into a thriving modern civilization. However, with the return of the Deviants, the Eternals are forced to come out of hiding and into the light to protect the Earth one last time.

This is the premise of Eternals, a 2021 film that is arguably the first film to really be a part of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), since it seeks to connect the past with the present, providing a new structure for the MCU as well as teases for future storylines. Unfortunately, it is this emphasis on the future that weakens the present film itself, leaving viewers looking forward to the new additions to the MCU rather than enjoying the film.

This is partly due to the sheer number of characters introduced in the span of a two and a half hour film. There are ten main Eternals in the movie, and it is difficult for the casual viewer to commit to memory each name, face, and power, especially since some of the characters have incredibly similar and trite powers, like lasers or super strength. This endeavor is quickly rendered futile, though, since half of the major characters are killed off within the first hour of the film.

The audience’s inability to connect with the characters on the screen diminishes every aspect of the film. The surprising plot twist would have worked better if it wasn’t shown primarily off-screen. The romantic aspects of the plot were awkward and at some points distasteful to watch. The Deviants, supposedly the big bad villains of the movie, were almost completely written off by the end of it.

All of this is to say that, in my opinion, Eternals was one of more flawed movies of the MCU, rivaling Thor: The Dark World, however strong of a comparison that may be. In the end, the weak plot was spread far too thin, leaving viewers unsatisfied with the entirety of the film. As a dedicated Marvel movie-goer, I hope that future MCU films do not make the same mistakes as Eternals did.

– Mahak M.

Eternals is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

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