Certainly the MCU’s worst in a long time, but not as bad as critics make it
By Collin Frazier
Ambition. It’s something we all have. We use it to try something new or exciting. Sometimes it pays off well, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it meets somewhere in the middle. Take the MCU’s most recent entry Eternals, for example. It follows the eponymous group as they attempt to prevent the alien race Deviants from destroying Earth following the events of Avengers: Endgame.
I was initially excited for this film, as it not only introduced a new group to the universe, but it was directed by Academy-Award-winning director Chloé Zhao. After sitting down and watching this film, while it for sure had high points, it had equal low points as well.
What this film did very well was its ensemble performance from the Eternals. Each of them brought their own piece of this puzzle and it came together well. Big names like Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, and Salma Hayek certainly can attract normal movie goers, but it was the lesser-known characters that stood out to me. Gemma Chan as Sersi shined in this film, posing as the true leader of a group whose decisions she began to question. She was not afraid to risk everything for a planet she learned to love. Lia McHugh as Sprite was not afraid to show her internal struggles all in the name of love, and her conclusion made me smile. I just wish Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo had more runtime. I loved Nanjiani in Silicon Valley and I was hoping we got more of this in the movie… still hoping he and Martin Starr somehow cross paths in the MCU.
The biggest attraction to this film is with a director like Zhao, she is going to try something new, and that she does. Eternals picks up where Shang-Chi left off in terms of inclusion: this time, we get the MCU’s first LGBTQ+ protagonist in Brian Tyree Henry, a great actor. And it is not like him being gay was put there just to be put there, it played a key role in his character development. After living thousands of years on Earth, he lost faith in the people living in it. He then met the man he fell in love with, and he regained faith in civilization. It gave him a reason to save the planet. I thought this was a great way to mix character development and inclusion into a film. Filmmakers should take notes from Zhao.
Even with Zhao’s ambition, the film suffered along with making achievements because of this ambition. Now I get it, having a bunch of new characters all at once, it will be hard to develop every one of them. But look at Guardians of the Galaxy. That movie had five new characters and you cared for all of them by the end of the film. Along with that, the movie was over two and a half hours long. I am sure that the characters could have been fleshed out in that time. On that topic, the runtime for this film could have been 25 minutes shorter and been a better film for it. What this movie suffers from the most is its pacing. The first half of the film is all exposition, and I understand that the groundwork needs to be laid out, but the film took way too long setting the conflict up.
Overall, Eternals tried something different, had a shaky result, but still made for an alright viewing experience. Is this Marvel’s worst film in a long time? Absolutely. Does it deserve its current 48% on Rotten Tomatoes? Absolutely not. My final rating for Eternals is 72/100.