Marvel’s Eternals Doesn’t Quite Live Up to Hype


Courtesy of Screen Rant

Marvel’s newest film, Eternals, released in the United States on Nov. 5.

Star Wars’ introductory text crawl works because John William’s score steals the show from the boring yellow exposition. The entirely uninspired story dump ahead of Marvel’s latest film, on the other hand, doesn’t have quite the same impact. Devastatingly, this was the first sign of the largely incoherent twaddle to come.

Before I tear into this film, I want to first begin by admitting that I had a blast at the theater. The viewing experience was everything you could ever want from a Marvel movie: explosions, massive CGI creatures, and exciting, albeit forced, team line-up shots. Better yet, it’s a character-driven film, and Chloé Zhao’s writing shines through subtle, intimate character moments. All of this made for an immensely enjoyable two and a half hours. When Eternals hits Disney+, I might even rewatch it.

But — and this is a fairly consequential but — I did not buy into the story whatsoever. The overarching plot about Celestials and Deviants and other floaty space things did not pique my interest in the slightest. While I can understand that it’s difficult to top Thanos, I would argue that Loki lived up to its predecessor — it created a compelling storyline by creating personal consequences for our protagonists. Expecting me to care about a giant, golden space god incubating in Earth’s core until it can be born, exploding the planet in the process, is just asking too much. It doesn’t help that the Celestials, posited as one of two kinds of villains in the film, are shrouded in mystery (no doubt to allow future Marvel projects to explore their mythology further).

None of the threats in the film are grounded in anything — not even contrived revenge schemes or generic campaigns for global domination. Instead, every threat just exists for some contrived story purpose that could just as easily be replaced by any other generic world-exploding plot. In fact, many core elements of the film could be easily replaced or removed altogether.

Let’s start with Kingo, played by Ku- mail Nanjiani. I loved every moment of his performance, but remove him from the film and it would have no bearing on the final product, save for a much needed trimming of the runtime. The same goes for actor Kit Harington, who is in the film for the sole purpose of teasing his future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, I will always pay money to watch Harington and Richard Madden’s awkward banter, but that neither speaks much of me nor of the film responsible for making that happen.

Even the soundtrack by Ramin Djawadi, which was admittedly really epic, was so reminiscent of his own work on Game of Thrones that I half expected Daenerys to swoop in and burn everything to the ground. Most moments of the film had me either thinking of something else or waiting for the next big Marvel plotline to be revealed, leaving very little of my attention to bother with the machinations on screen.

So, is there any reason to watch Eternals? Yes. The acting was phenomenal, and the chemistry between characters when not forced into a romance by the plot, works fantastically. An early moment in the film shows the Eternals go- ing their separate ways, and everything about the scene was brilliantly crafted, from the dialogue and stage blocking to the performances and cinematography. The intensity of that single moment carried me through the film and left me devastated when no other scenes matched its energy. The wide shots create an immense sense of scale that somehow overflows with personality and draws you into this world. It’s honestly some of the best camera work in the MCU and likely the best part of this film.

All of this makes for a bittersweet viewing experience. Clearly, so much talent was involved in the making of this film, but something went critically wrong. I’d attribute it to studio meddling, but I also know the MCU is capable of giving directors space to embrace their vision while keeping a consistent tone across their films. What is lacking here is a proper vision of how each of the individual elements could come together to create a cohesive narrative. Further, the imposition of universal stakes just detracts from the moments of grounded intimacy that carried so much potential. In the process, anything good about the film’s plot gets lost in all the padding. Shave away some of the irrelevant cosmic aspects, unnecessarily large ensemble cast, and contrived CGI giants, and you may find a quality production.