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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

The Eternals Review

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

For the first time in over 20 movies, I went to see Marvel Studio’s “The Eternals” with no prior knowledge as to who the main heroes were. I didn’t know what their background was, or any hints as to what might happen during the movie going forward, using the comics as clues.

And I have to say, I’m very glad I did this time because it greatly enhanced my viewing experience (much like it did with Squid Game, a show I wish I’d reviewed earlier). Sometimes not knowing everything, and trusting that the movie would do a good enough job of guiding the viewer through the story, is what is needed to really appreciate it.

Now the movie itself, I’ll say, was very enjoyable. It had a fantastic ensemble cast full of stars, a story that developed and shifted as the duration of the movie went on, and was interspersed with lots of great CGI filled, gut-busting action. In some places, I’d say it didn’t quite reach the emotional heights of, say, its predecessor MCU Shang-Chi, but I believe there were actually moments I preferred.

First, the cast, and it’s a large one. These heroes, the Eternals, aliens from a planet far away, already come as a package deal. They didn’t get 5-10 years to pull them all together, to build each individual character but that’s not what the film is supposed to be anyway. We are supposed to view them as a family, a singular unit.

And that’s how they work throughout most of the movie but, without giving any spoilers, there are family fractures, as families grow apart, take different avenues with life. But they work as an ensemble. Even with their own individual storylines, like Thena’s mental health issues, or Sersi’s love triangle with the two guys from Game of Thrones. But we are constantly being reminded that in spite of their differences they are family.

Through flashbacks into the dawn of civilisation, to the growing societies throughout history, we see them stick together, not just to fight the “deviants,” which is their mission, but to comfort one another and help each other through their own personal struggles.

And all these storylines are brought together by the single theme of family. Whether it’s Phastos and his new human son and husband, or Sersi and Ikarus’ age-long romance, family is the string that binds them.

The overall story is very gripping, and it is almost immediately explained why these ancient, all-powerful beings weren’t involved in past dramas handled by the Avengers. Twists and turns keep the story from stagnating, but mostly there is a steady plot that opens up the MCU in ways that it never has before.

The movie introduces the Celestials, gargantuan, robot-like beings who watch over the progress of the worlds, the universes and galaxies, that they create. They are that powerful, that they can create galaxies with a wave of their hands. And their existence doesn’t overlap, interfere, or retcon over past MCU canon, they are completely believable, and hopefully, we see them again. Thanos had the power to change civilisation but even he would be dwarfed by these new antagonists.

But they are too big for the Eternals to possibly take them on, so the majority of the fighting is against mutant, muscular beasts called the Deviants. Each Eternal has their own strengths and powers. The most fun to watch fight is Angelina Jolie’s Thena, the goddess of wisdom according to human tradition. She fights the monsters with grace, and with great choreography. Watching the stronger characters like Gilgamesh and Ikaris fight the larger monsters, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen from Hulk or Thor in the past.

There are some superstar characters as well, like the aforementioned Thena. Most of the Eternals are compelling, sympathetic characters. Like Druig, who has the power to control minds who believes humanity can be better. Or Sprite, an Eternal who was created to forever be a child. Sersi and Ikaris’ love story does tend to slow down the plot and isn’t too gripping I will admit.

Meanwhile, we get Phastos, an eternal with the power to design and create any invention to introduce to humans. He is the first openly, recognizably LGBT superhero we’ve ever had, with a husband and son. While his character and family don’t receive as much attention as the straight characters (typical), what we do get is an interesting, charismatic, openly gay man in a Marvel movie and that is huge.

They also included their first deaf character in Makkari, a speedster like the Flash, whose character was changed in the comics, from a white man to a woman of colour for the movie. She is utilised very little and much of her story is furtive glances and sweet moments with Druig, without getting her own story really.

By far, the best and most fun eternal is Kingo, the flashy Bollywood actor played by the amazing Kumail Nanjiani, who provides much of the comic relief in the movie but is still also a badass with amazing arm muscles.

The Eternals is not the most connected and relevant story to the greater MCU. It works best as a singular adventure with a brand-new ensemble cast of characters that will tug at the heartstrings. I do hope to see more from some of these characters in Marvel’s future, and I believe that’s the barometer for success in these massive superhero movies. Give me more!

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