Marvel’s latest outing with the Eternals attempts to kick off the next phase of Marvel movies with an Avengers-like adventure full of a bunch of new characters. The question is, where do Eternals fall on the best and worst list of Marvel movies as a whole. First let’s dive into a quick discussion of the plot and then the trailer before we jump into our review.
Marvel Studios’ Eternals features an exciting new team of Super Heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, the Deviants.
It would seem like Marvel is immune from the curses that we often see from the DC films, pumping out hit after hit in a large and connected universe. Eternals comes in and tries to kick off the next phase of Marvel movies and introduce us to the celestials. However, Marvel is in fact not immune to misses with its films and sadly Eternals falls into that category. At 2 hours and 37 minutes long, I found myself looking at my watch more than I would have in any other Marvel film.
To start, the film tries to bite off far too much with the number of characters and story points it wants to introduce to us in the movie. It’s hard enough to keep tracking of the 10 Eternals that are the title characters of this film. But add in all the additional characters around the celestials and you start to lose track quickly. The result is an unbalanced character growth where we end up not really getting to know or feel attached to any one character in the end. They brought a rather heavy a-list cast and then barely used them in the way that would best show their talents. In fact, there has to be a Game of Thrones fan in the writer’s room, or someone thought it was funny to have Kit Harington play the love interest for an Eternal whose name was Sersi.
Now let’s talk about the timelines. The film spends a LOT of time bouncing between present and past as it weaves its story. Peppered in properly this isn’t a bad tactic to use, especially when the characters span such a long history and legacy. But it gets to be a bit much and you get some wipe lash from it. For a film that is supposed to be a part of the MCU, you would be hard-pressed to find anything in the past or present that connects them. In that respect, it fails as a Marvel film as we never feel a connection to the MCU to bridge the past or future of the upcoming phase 4 films.
Now that all sounds like a lot of bad but there were some things I enjoyed about the film. For starters, I am a sucker for world-building. If anything Eternals sets up a lot of groundwork for the next set of films to do what it failed to achieve in its nearly 3-hour run. Visually the film was also well done and stunning like you would expect from a Marvel film. The celestials are an interesting new foe and combined with their initial introductions in the Guardian of the Galaxy films, there is a lot more to explore here. Also, the two after-credit scenes provide Marvel’s attempt at connecting the worlds of Eternals to that of the rest of Marvel. Though again no direct connection yet which feels like a miss.
It isn’t fair that Eternals came out after Dune. It’s a hard comparison to make when you come off with such an incredible adaption. Yet Eternals is far from Marvel’s worst film, though it won’t rank above the water line to stand out in any meaningful way. Eternal’s as a storyline, the characters, have potential within the MCU. Whether that is in a sequel film (which the end credits suggest will happen) or by bringing them into other upcoming Marvel films.
Eternal’s is in theatres Nov 5th.