Back when the Marvel Cinematic Universe started in the late 2000s, it almost seemed like they were stretching things out over several movies, you kinda wondered what it was all building up to and when. I didn’t really care for the first Captain America movie or the Thor‘s first two movies. I barely remember them except that I liked Cap a lot more. And the first Avengers movie was a great assemble but the story seemed rather minor.
Yet, Cap and the first Avengers movies were well made and even though I don’t remember much of the Thor movies, they got good reviews as well. It seemed there wasn’t anything the MCU couldn’t touch. Even the Ant-Man movies (which seemed to set up the bigger movies coming later) were great to watch.
But Eternals, released in November, seems the dullest of the MCU so far. At two and a half hours, it’s much ado about nothing. There are 10 Eternals and most of them don’t come off as anything more than caricatures of better superhero characters.
The main character is Sersi (Gemma Chan) living a happy life in London as a museum curator with a budding relationship with Dane Whitman (Kit Harrington) who works at the same museum. But so little is done with this relationship that Dane is wondering whether Sersi is a wizard or something. Dane has so much little to do in this movie that he only bookends the movie so if you Game of Thrones fans were expecting more of Harrington, then, the movie’s end credit set it up.
Squeezing 10 characters into a movie isn’t a good idea. Several disappear for much of the film’s length and Kingo (Kumail Ninjiani) disappears during the film’s obligatory climax battle. And so much was made of Ninjiani getting all buffed and ripped for a year, there isn’t one scene of him shirtless, which is an example of the whole movie. You’re expecting more that isn’t there.
Salma Hayek plays Ajak, the spiritual leader of the Eternals, but her character is killed earlier in the movie and most of her scenes are through flashbacks so confusing, you sometimes question when something is going on.
Deaf actress Lauren Ridloff plays Makkari, who can move at superspeed like Quicksliver or DC’s The Flash. She somehow knows sign language before history had recorded sign language was used. Apparently, the Eternals were placed on Earth by a Celestial Arisham in 5000 B.C. and they used their technology to pass along things to humans. However, they couldn’t get involved with human affairs which answers a lot of questions of why the Eternals didn’t appear during the Battle of New York in the first Avengers or during the Wakanda battle to stop Thanos.
As a matter of fact, most MCU movies are having to walk back on a lot of reason characters weren’t available it’s almost becoming a running gag. Captain Marvel, the Hulk, Scarlet Witch and just about any of the Eternals could have easily stopped Thanos. Another problem with this movie is every time the Eternals appear in modern times, they have to act like they’re friends from college.
At one point, the son of Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) refers to Ikaris (Richard Madden) as Superman after cell phone video of him in London goes viral and he tries to schluff it off. Considering so much has happened on Earth from the Battle of New York to the Blip, people would believe anything. But yet the Eternals are keeping themselves secret.
Apparently, the Eternals only could get involved in matters when it involved Deviants, an invasive species on Earth. The Eternals defeat the last of them in 1521 and then go on their way after Druig (Brian Keoghan) gets upset with Ajak over their constant inaction in human affairs. He goes out on his own and Ajak allows the others as they await for Arisham to return.
If it doesn’t sound interesting at all, then it’s not. I guess you can look at the Eternals as people who observe wildlife (since there’s a lot of talk about apex predators) but don’t get involve when an apex predator kills a more cute animal for food. But the question is raised if the Eternals have actually done more damage by not getting involved and introducing technology that caused violence. Do you think an animal would become more hostile if they saw a human observing them off in the distance?
It never does seem to make much sense. And the movie sets up Kro (Bill Skarsgard) as the leader of the Deviants, but gives him little to do and not to give much away is dispatched almost as easy. The casting of Hayek and Angelina Jolie as Thena, a powerful warrior who has mental illness, seems to be stunt casting.
Chloe Zhao co-wrote and directed the movie. Zhao recently won a Best Director Oscar for Nomadland and a lot of promise was anticipated for this movie. She does bring her own visual style to the movie and it is a different MCU movie than what some people might expect, but as I was looking at the end credits waiting for the obligatory mid-credit scene, I noticed Zhao is listed twice as a screenwriter.
Ryan Kirpo and Kaz Firpo are listed as having the screen story. They’re also listed on the screenplay. And Zhao is listed once as a screenwriter and with the ampersand with Patrick Burleigh. This meant, the script went through so much rewrites and versions, it explains why the script is all over the place. Who knows how many uncredited rewrites and script doctoring was done?
It seems Marvel and parent company Disney were so anxious to make Eternals the next best thing, they ruined it. Some criticism has been it’s like a DCEU movie but it looks more like one of those sci-fi/fantasy movies that came out in the mid-2000s to be the next Lord of the Rings such as the failed Chronicles of Narnia movies or The Golden Compass. They had a lot of bright lights and flashing pretty colors over CGI, but there was no substance to the story.
And considering the plot is similar to DC’s Watchmen comic and adaptation at so many levels, I would tell people to watch that version.
But Marvel hasn’t looked back as they’ve had a hit with the latest Spider-Man movie and the next Doctor Strange sounds like it might be just as big. The ending sets up a sequel and since it’s the MCU, we know the story will be eventually resolved one way or the other. However, this one will easily be forgotten.
What do you think? Please comment.