Marvel’s “Eternals” should not last forever on movie screens

The poster for the Marvel movie Eternals, released on Nov. 5 2021, features the names of the well-known cast. Though these actors played their roles well, the development of the characters was not present in the film.

Photo courtesy of Marvel

The poster for the Marvel movie “Eternals,” released on Nov. 5 2021, features the names of the well-known cast. Though these actors played their roles well, the development of the characters was not present in the film.

By Maya Bhattiprolu, Copy Editor

A movie about immortal superheroes sounds like the perfect addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, “Eternals,” released Nov. 5 2021, falls short of expectations and fails to incorporate some of the classic Marvel elements viewers love. 

The film follows a group of celestial beings called “Eternals” (aptly named for their eternal life status). Sent to Earth thousands of years before the Avengers were born, these immortals had two instructions only: to eradicate the Deviants — CGI wolf-like monsters — and to not interfere with human development. 

Upon eliminating the Deviants, a few centuries of peace left the group split up in different parts of the world. But the unexpected interaction with an unusual Deviant sparks new questions for the Eternal Sersi (Gemma Chan) who embarks on a journey to kill the rest of them. On it, however, she finds answers regarding her true identity and purpose. 

The movie jumps around time, going as far back as 7000 B.C. in Mesopotamia to explain their interactions with human life throughout the formation of the planet. Though the movie takes place after “Avengers: Endgame,” the constant timeline shifts proves to be confusing and is not fluid. 

The film also lacks consistency — many scenes show the Eternals very clearly intervening in human life: the introduction of a steam boat engine and plow designed by one Eternal, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry); or the end of the Aztec genocide in Tenochtitlan by another Eternal, Druig (Barry Keoghan). The movie never fully expands on these inconsistencies: why do these superheroes feel so overwhelmed by their conscience to do more than just protect humanity? And why have they never felt the need to do anything about it until Sersi tells them to?

The film boasts other top notch actors as well, like Salma Hayek (who plays Ajak, the maternal figure and leader of the Eternals) and Angelina Jolie (who plays Thena, an Eternal warrior suffering from an unexplained mental illness caused by the weight of her memories), yet fails to give these stars much attention during the film. Although the actors do a fantastic job at portraying their characters, their storylines are far from developed and sorely under focused.

This seems to be the case throughout the movie, as most of the plotlines and dialogue in the film feel bland. The numerous action-packed fight scenes with Deviants are not exciting and feel repetitive. The love story between Sersi and Ikaris (Richard Madden) is stiff and unconvincing, with minimal chemistry between the two to even hint at a possible romantic relationship. The classic Marvel banter does not come across as humorous as in other films. The delivery of lines is poor, flat and overall boring, a huge disappointment for the franchise. 

And the diversity in the film is like a list; Marvel checks the boxes with the first gay couple, a deaf character and a wide range of ethnicities, but they offer nothing additional to the plot. They are simply there, and what purpose do these characteristics have if the movie never explores the effect on the characters?

Despite these flaws, the film does have some positives. The cinematography is remarkable, which is to be expected of the director Chloe Zhao, most notably known for Oscar-Award Winning “Nomadland.” The film features smooth deserts, beautiful greenery and captures the beauty of the landscapes in each scene. The CGI animations are fair, but not as impressive as some from previous movies and shows in the MCU. 

But perhaps the highlights of the film came after the seemingly-eternal 150 minutes during the end credit scenes, the first of which features Harry Styles as Eros, the brother of Thanos. Styles is rumored to have signed a five movie contract with the MCU, bringing in another audience to the franchise. The second scene hints at a possible new superhero as well, which comic book fans will be sure to recognize simply by the first mention of the character’s name.

Marvel is certainly making history with “Eternals”, but the film leaves something to be desired. It is, unfortunately, one of the more bland and forgettable movies in the franchise, and despite the name, it will not be a Marvel movie that is eternally loved.