While Marvel continues to bring the extensive collection of comic book characters to life for the big screen, it opens the door to more chances for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to miss the mark as they have with Eternals. There are some redeeming qualities though.
Enter Makkari, the first deaf superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Played by Lauren Ridloff, Makkari gets to showcase her abilities across the ages. She is also joined by Brian Tyree Henry, who plays Phastos, the first openly gay superhero. Both are passionate characters who bring representation to a genre that lacks in the area. The shift in Marvel’s focus to show that everyone can wear the mask and be super in their own ways is a welcome treat. This is where my praise for the latest Marvel installment ends.
Unfortunately, Eternals falls into the low end on the Marvel rankings list. The story was convoluted into a glorified placeholder for what is the come in Marvel’s Phase Four and beyond. When you think about other Marvel films, the focus is on one character with a few introductions to sub-characters (Steve Rogers, Captain America, and Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes). Still, Eternals introduces audiences to 15 (at least) brand new characters in one movie.
The lore of a Marvel film with characters played by huge names like Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, and Kit Harrington makes the film on a level with an Avengers movie that brings lots of characters together after multiple origin stories and character-building movies in place. Maybe they could have created an Eternals Disney+ series to flesh out all the characters and their extensive histories before the movie because it was just too much. Eternals will return in the future, and I assume the audience will be able to appreciate the characters better because they aren’t trying to learn everything they can about superheroes that have been around for over 7,000 years.
Chloe Zhao does a wonderful job at breaking free of the studio work and out into beautiful filming locations, but the story didn’t capture me and make me fall in love with the new MCU characters. They have wonderful powers that only seem to complement while with the other Eternals but seem unhelpful when they are alone.
It’s rare that I find myself writing a poor review for a Marvel Studios film, but there is a first time for everything. I wanted to love it because I love the stars they cast, but I left the theater thinking it was too much in some areas and not enough in others. Marvel has entered into a time of rapid story growth as the next Infinity Gauntlet style saga unfolds. This means new characters and storylines that converge, and with the Multiverse a central theme from most of the shows and movies, it’s safe to assume that it will leave fans with hard to follow storylines and even characters (How man Spider-Men and Women have been featured so far!?).
I think the Eternals could have a bright future in the MCU. This speedbump was just a necessary step in the grander scheme of Phase Four.