‘Eternals’: too much, too soon?

Marvel’s newest addition struggles under its own weight

Courtesy+of+the+Eternals+facebook+account+

Courtesy of the “Eternals” facebook account

By Shannon Moore, Collegian Correspondent

Fresh off of her Oscar win for “Nomadland,” director Chloè Zhao turned her focus to an unexpected project: Marvel’s “Eternals.” She was given an impossible task: break from the typical Marvel movie formula, introduce a ton of new characters, give them a place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while having them battle a bigger-than-Thanos level threat. Despite her best efforts, and great performances from the entire cast, the movie falls short.

In the comics, the Eternals are a group of celestial beings sent to Earth to protect it from deadly deviants. They’re also related to Thanos, whose brother, Eros, is an Eternal himself. However, “Eternals” takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame”, so the question begs to be asked: where were these people when the universe was at stake? The movie explains that they were told not to interfere in human conflicts, but this wasn’t a human conflict. This was an Eternal conflict, at least by comic standards, because Thanos was an Eternal. What Marvel plans to do about this is still up in the air, and it impacts the legitimacy of the MCU as it stands. Based off this movie, everything Marvel fans knew has been thrown out the window.

The Eternals are incredibly powerful and the narrative of the movie tries to match that. The group takes on a world ending threat, but the majority of the movie is spent reuniting the group after centuries of separation. Zhao demonstrates their history in a series of fragmented flashbacks, trying to break up along-winded plot. It leaves the story feeling choppy and it is clear that the task Zhao was given was too much.

Zhao attempts to get the audience invested in these characters before the final battle of the movie. Key word: attempts. There are love triangles, family dynamics, clashing egos and even a sex scene, but it all boils down to nothing in the end. The individual characters are enjoyable, in particular performances from Gemma Chan and Kumail Nanjiani. The movie has ten core members, and each of them brings something different to the table. Ten is far too many for the audience to get invested in individually. The threat the Eternals face feels like an “Avengers: Endgame” level one, but fans haven’t spent ten years with these characters like they had with Iron Man and Captain America. After two and half hours, I didn’t really care whether the Eternals lived or died, which means the movie wasn’t effective in achieving its mission.

“Eternals” struggles under its own weight. The concept is too big to introduce in one movie. Additionally, the ensemble cast was too large to get emotionally invested in a single one of them. I found myself zoning out at some of the most pivotal points in the story, simply because there was too much going on. My dad whispered to me at one point, “I miss the avengers,” and I have to agree.

Despite its many flaws, the movie does have some positives. First off, the representation alone. The Eternals themselves are played by an extremely diverse group of all ages, races and abilities. This is the first Marvel movie to feature a deaf superhero, Makkari, played by deaf actress Lauren Ridloff. This a huge win for not only the deaf community, but the disabled community in general.

“Eternals” also features the first openly gay couple in the MCU, and the first gay family. Their relationship isn’t there to be applauded for inclusivity, it’s integral to the plot as well. This is a huge win for the LGBTQ+ community and one that cannot be ignored. It should not have taken 25 Marvel movies to get this type of representation but at least we’re here now.

Overall, “Eternals” was too much for one movie, one director and one disjointed cast to bear. The representation is important and long overdue, but the movie’s flaws overshadow it. Zhao definitely did her best with the task she was given, but unfortunately her best wasn’t enough. “Eternals” leaves you with more questions than answers about the future of the MCU and, personally, has me missing the days of the Avengers.

Shannon Moore can be reached at [email protected]