Incluvie Foundation Gala - Learn More

Marvel's Eternals: Why It Was a Good Idea... But The Execution Was Not.

Eternals is an interesting concept and unique visuals, but slow pacing and rushed character development suggests it should have been a mini-series.

Eternals (2021)

4.5 / 5
3.5 / 5

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has come a long way since 2008’s Iron Man. Phase 4 started out strong, finally giving Black Widow her own solo film and introducing their very first Asian lead in Shang-Chi: Legend of the Ten Rings. It was a fantastic introduction, before now giving us a look into this universe’s past with Eternals. Unfortunately, this film may not have been the best showing.

Eternals follows a race of immortal beings who have influenced Earth’s history by forming the identities of gods and other mythological beings throughout history while protecting humanity from a race of apex predators, known as the Deviants. After the last Deviant is defeated, the Eternals decide to disband and live amongst humanity until the Celestials, giant beings who originally sent them on their quest, give them permission to return to their home planet of Olympia.

The Eternals’ peace on Earth is disrupted when the Deviants return. Now there is a race to reunite the Eternals and finally defeat the Deviants once and for all. They discover many secrets along the way that will change their lives forever. A premise such as this has the potential to tell a grand story. 

Unfortunately, the movie has mixed results. The film has a lot of characters with a lot of prerequisite backstories. It is longer than most MCU films and is filled with a lot of exposition and long flashbacks abruptly inter-spliced. As a result, the pacing is inconsistent. Slow and tedious in certain parts. On the other hand, character introductions can feel very rushed since there are ten leads, and the film itself doesn’t have time to give them proper character development. With each Eternal introduced, the audience is given their powerset and a backstory on what they have been doing for the past 7,000 years.

Leader Ajak has the ability to heal and retired to a farmhouse. Sersi can manipulate matter, is in a relationship, and works at a museum in London. Sprite can create illusions and has been living with Sersi, trying to find love. Thena can create weapons out of energy and has been in hiding with fellow Eternal, Gilgamesh, who is nearly invulnerable. Phastos, who is the inventor of the group, now has a husband and son. Makkari, a deaf woman of color, has super speed and has simply been waiting on their spaceship. That is a lot of information to keep track of in the contained universe of a film’s introduction.

Phastos and his husband

As the main character, Sersi gets the most focus, while the rest of the Eternals only get a few minutes of focus each. In order to achieve a more concrete plot, the project should have been a television show, with each episode focusing on different plot points and characters. Due to Disney Plus finding great success with its Marvel mini-series, Eternals may have benefited from this format. For example, having a half hour to show the relationship between Phastos and his family would have been very interesting for the audience since he is the first openly homosexual hero in the MCU, not to mention the chemistry between him and his husband feels genuinely romantic. Makkari would have also benefited greatly from this since her entrance into the main plot seems the most rushed. They cast big-name star Angelina Jolie as Thena, yet she has very little to do in the plot, which seems a bit like a waste of her talents.

This is not to say the film itself is bad, far from it. The characters themselves are interesting and the visuals are beautiful. Unfortunately, this makes the movie more frustrating since there are a lot of great ideas and moments, but they are now associated with a messy product. The best way to describe this movie is an interesting concept and unique visuals, but slow pacing and rushed character development, neither of which mix. Eternals was a good idea on paper but it was in need of refinement, maybe even into a mini-series.