Eternals

“Eternals” has its flaws, but it’s still enjoyable to watch, and much of the criticism it’s received can be applied to other Marvel movies, too. 

The action of the movie begins when creatures known as Deviants, believed to be long gone, return. We learn that the 10 Eternals were sent to Earth to protect humans from Deviants, but are forbidden from meddling in any other human affairs. Each Eternal has a different power: Sersi (Gemma Chan) can transform objects, Ikaris (Richard Madden) can fly and shoot lasers out of his eyes and Druig (Barry Keoghan) can control minds. The Eternals must regroup after being broken up for thousands of years after a Deviant kills their leader, Ajak (Salma Hayek). Later, it is revealed that there is a greater threat to humanity, and the Eternals must race against time to save the world, although they can’t agree on what the most ethical decision is. 

“Eternals” is similar to “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” in that it uses nonlinear storytelling and has a different feel than other Marvel movies. We see the Eternals at various points throughout history - the Babylon Empire, the fall of Tenochtitlan, Hiroshima - out of chronological order, which makes you work to piece together their backstory. The main plot’s recent events are also told out of order, which allows for a bit of a plot twist and dramatic irony. 

The movie is set more in nature than most Marvel movies, which creates visuals that I greatly prefer. Additionally, the lighting is warm and soft, and there’s very little sci-fi jargon. Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) provides comedic relief as an over-the-top Bollywood star. 

Originally, the Eternals were all written as white men. In the movie, there are only two white male Eternals. Now included among the Eternals are a Black deaf woman, a Black gay man, a Latina and a female Asian lead. We even see Marvel’s first on-screen gay kiss. Better yet, the movie doesn’t come off as preachy or pandering, because their identities are never discussed. They’re allowed to simply exist as they are and let their strengths speak for themselves. 

I did find some parts of the plot confusing. While the Deviants give the Eternals a reason to reunite, they do little else to advance the plot, and the fight scenes including them are boring. They also continue trying to kill the Eternals, even though they are fighting against the same antagonist. It would have been more interesting to see the Deviants and Eternals join forces against him. 

The character posed as the main antagonist is not interesting either, as he’s a faceless, nameless being without motive. The Eternal who sides with him is the truer villain, and the majority of the fighting in the climax is against him. I actually prefer it this way, because he does have a motive, a backstory and an emotional history with the lead protagonist, all of which had me far more invested than a being that has no interaction with the main characters. 

I also got bored with some of the arguing among the characters, as I always do with Marvel movies. With a runtime of two hours and 37 minutes, I would have liked to see less of that, although it still wasn’t as bad as “Civil War” in that aspect. 

Ultimately, “Eternals” is setting up for the next phase of Marvel. As in every Marvel movie, it ends on a cliffhanger with a clear lead-in to the next movie and plenty of loose ends. While some criticisms are valid, others are unnecessarily harsh. One critic complaining that Salma Hayek isn’t allowed to be “Salma Hayek-y” is really just complaining that she isn’t a Latina stereotype. Others have criticized the dialogue and Chan’s acting, which are stiff and unnatural at times, but that’s nothing new for Marvel. 

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