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'Eternals' Review: A Different Kind of MCU Film

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Eternals is the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film directed by Chloe Zhao and stars a big cast including Gemma Chan, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, and others as the Eternals, who were sent to Earth to eliminate beings called the Deviants. This film is based on the Eternals comics written by Jack Kirby. Similar to other Marvel brands such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Shang-Chi, I was unfamiliar with Eternals before seeing the movie. Guardians of the Galaxy and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings are some of my favorite MCU movies, so I was hoping Eternals could have a similar effect. It did not, unfortunately. That does not mean it is a bad movie.

Despite having the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score for an MCU movie, Eternals is not the worst. It feels different from other MCU movies when it comes to tone. Eternals has a solid cast that gave great performances. The two main Eternals are Sersi and Ikaris played by Gemma Chan and Richard Madden. Ikaris feels heavily influenced by Superman from Zack Snyder’s DC movies. Speaking of Zack Snyder, this film feels inspired by Snyder movies when it comes to deconstructing the characters and being darker. The film still has the MCU humor, but not as much as other Marvel movies. I’m fine with this because I am also a fan of Snyder’s DC movies as well as a Marvel fan.

Visually, the film looks great. Another director that Zhao seems to have taken influence from is Denis Villeneuve, who also makes great-looking films. The costume work is incredible. I also liked how they go back to certain moments in time with the characters. I know flashback sequences can be annoying, but they work in Eternals. It gives some characters development. The film does reference MCU events and characters, but still contains itself to focus mainly on the Eternals. The film had a couple of twists I did not see coming. The film’s score is also really good.

My two big issues with Eternals are the lack of character development for certain characters and pacing in the third act. While some characters such as Sersi are the main focus, others such as Makkari played by Lauren Ridloff, and Phastos played by Brian Tyree Henry felt less developed or had less screen time. It’s disappointing because when they are on screen they rock and come across as likable. They also break barriers as Makkari is the first deaf superhero in the MCU and Phastos is the first gay superhero in the MCU. The pacing towards the third act was slow and sometimes felt like it dragged. Eternals is currently the second-longest MCU film after Avengers: Endgame. The film could have avoided these issues if they had fewer characters and saved some of them for a future film.

All in all, Eternals did something unique and different. The film will divide fans. A lot of it worked. Deconstructing the characters was a good change of pace for a franchise known for being formulaic. The problem was it did more than it should for the first Eternals movie. The potential for it as a franchise in the MCU is promising, but depending on the box office and how Marvel will respond to the mixed responses could determine if more come and if Chloe Zhao will return to direct. I recommend you go and see it.

Final Grade: B+

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