Eternals is the newest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and it breaks the typical Marvel formula in all the right ways. The sci-fi fantasy experience is a breath of fresh air providing a unique story while still fitting into the MCU. The Eternals are a group of immortal, superhuman beings sent to earth by a celestial being, Arishem, to protect humans from deviants (powerful, dangerous creatures hellbent on destroying humans). After arriving on Earth in 5000 BC, they spent the next 2,500 years defending humans and killing deviants. After the deviants were extinct, the Eternals parted ways on Earth, awaiting further instructions from Arishem. After nearly 5,000 years, deviants resurface and the eternals reunite to face the threat. As they come together, they discover that the threat is much greater than it first appeared, and that one of the Eternals is not on their side. In addition to the compelling story, the stunning, vast landscapes, the relatable and flawed while admirable characters, and its additions to the Marvel Universe make Eternals a stand out Marvel film.
The landscapes in Eternals are spectacular, which isn’t surprising coming from academy award winning director, Chloé Zhao. The city of Babylon provides a perfect example for the landscapes of the film. When the city is shown from above, it’s impossible to take your eyes off of it. Every building stands out while fitting in and the images pop off the screen. Not only are the cities breathtaking, so are the natural landscapes. While being beautiful in themselves, they provide the perfect backdrop for the action sequences in the movie. It’s difficult to be bored when there’s always something interesting to look at on screen.
Having ten main characters, Eternals has to overcome the challenge of providing enough character development for us to feel connected to them. While the character development isn’t as extensive as other Marvel movies, it is enough for us to care about what happens to the characters. We are given all of the character development needed for us to feel empathetic toward the characters and to become invested. This development is essential for creating stakes in the final battle. Each character has their own unique superpower as well as their own purpose in the story. Despite being immortal beings, the characters are flawed and relatable. They all make mistakes making them more “human.” The main characters aren’t the only ones contributing to the story: convincing side characters provide more layers to the plot. Sersi’s boyfriend, Dane, adds an element of mystery. Kingo’s (one of the eternals) manager from his life as a movie star is mainly used as comic relief, but he also delivers the human perspective on what the Eternals are doing. The diverse cast beautifully portrays each character, bringing them to life on screen. The combination of well balanced main characters and effective side characters is a formula for success.
As far as expanding the already vast and rich Marvel Universe, Eternals does a magnificent job. New characters, powerful beings, and concepts from the movie all contribute to growing the MCU. Every film does this in its own way, but Eternals more directly does this specifically by introducing Arishem and other celestials. These powerful beings are prevalent in the comic, and could be used in countless ways in the future of the MCU. Eternals also uses its second post credit scene to hint at future MCU projects expanding the universe. It works as both a stand alone movie while also contributing to the broader Universe as a whole.
Eternals, while being in the MCU, doesn’t feel like a Marvel movie for the most part. Other than references to previous movies, Eternals could just as easily be a stand alone sci-fi movie. With that said, it is a blessing for all Marvel fans that this movie is in the MCU. Many new powerful characters have been added to the universe, all building toward the next big avengers movie. A new character was also introduced in the first post-credit scene, played by none other than singer and songwriter Harry Styles. Eternals is a strong movie overall, but it isn’t free of flaws. The score is nothing spectacular, some of the characters are underused, it is longer than it needs to be, and the story can feel choppy at times. It isn’t the best product Marvel has put forward, but it is a somewhat unique and very enjoyable film. After a successful $71 million opening weekend ($161 million globally), it is safe to say that Marvel has yet again hit the jackpot. Even with negative early reviews, people still showed up to the theatre. There are still very mixed opinions on the movie, but its strong characters, beautiful cinematography, and unique structure make it a movie worth watching.