Marvel Studios has broken off from its core storytelling, and is taking bolder risks
The Marvel Cinematic Universe we have seen from 2008’s Iron Man to 2019’s Avengers: Endgame seems small compared to the its latest addition. But that doesn’t exactly make the new project the best. Marvel’s Eternals is a massive project, and its strengths and weaknesses can be described in the same way.
The movie is visually appealing, and has cosmic vistas that resemble the kind we see in documentaries about the Big Bang, but better. It also has a story that takes us over the entire globe, and to the dawn of human civilization. We go from Mesopotamia to modern-day London, from Babylon to the Australian Outback. The movie makes full use of the wonderful CGI that Hollywood movies have been giving us.
Cast and story
The movie has a huge, and refreshingly diverse cast. It includes Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Kit Harrington, Don Lee, Barry Keoghan, Lia McHugh, Lauren Ridloff, and Brian Tyree Henry among many others.
Before we see any character interaction, we are shown an epic mythology of how the ten Eternals came to Earth to protect us from the evil Deviants. Resembling a very detailed PowerPoint presentation, we see how our heroes have been among us for 7000 years yet no one knew them. Each Eternal has their own unique power, but what sets them apart is that they are immortal, indestructible gods. When we saw the first trailer, many of us asked why they didn’t help fight Thanos.
Well, the Eternals can only intervene when Deviants are involved. They didn’t mingle much with humans until their own fates get jeopardized. We cannot reveal more as it would spoil the movie.
A cosmic drama
Back in September, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings came out and it was called a unique movie. But the Eternals became even more unique. One of its biggest surprises is the director, Chloé Zhao, who directed the Oscar-winning Nomadland. Zhao’s two movies couldn’t be any different. Nomadland focused on intimacy and realism, while Eternals had to do un-realism, but in a proper manner.
Zhao still manages to bring some grounded personal drama in the story. Chan’s Sersi, who can transform matter becomes the emotional centre. When the Eternals face a new threat, she has to reassemble everyone, even though she’s still hurt over her recent break-up from Madden’s Ikaris. And by recent, we mean 2000 years ago. McHugh’s Sprite also harbours feelings for Ikaris, but since she is trapped in the body of a 11-year-old girl, she’s at a disadvantage.
Marvel goes above once more with the inclusion of a sex scene and having one Eternal being gay and having a husband and son. Nanjiani brings his comedic excellence forth despite being an Eternal-turned-Bollywood movie star. Jolie was one of the highlights of the movie, but fell behind due to her character’s unconvincing personality disorder. The other Eternals didn’t get to make much of an impression in the time they got.
In a personal opinion, I would like to say that it may have served better as a series. The story is yet another race against time to stop the incoming doom. The movie is not boring by any means, and it will set off some major other storylines. If you’re familiar with the comics, Harrington’s Dane Whitman goes on to become the Black Knight, who later joins the Avengers. What really went wrong with Eternals is that Marvel got together a huge group of heroes and made a movie. They didn’t get solo outings individually. If they had made it as a series, we can have an episode or two for each character before having them team for the big finale.
The movie releases worldwide on November 4th.