The Eternals review — I struggled with it

Note: I've carefully avoided spoilers here.

I liked The Avengers and most of the films and TV shows in phases 1-4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I thought Infinity War and Endgame were particularly good. I'm glad it has continued beyond Endgame with things like the esoteric Wandavision, The Black Widow movie and, the last thing I watched, Hawkeye.

I read Marvel comics as a child in the 70s and they were always waiting for cinematography to advance enough to do justice to them, and we eventually got that.

The thing is, I skipped The Eternals. I missed the first volume of it that ran between 1976 and 1978, even though that was in my era of reading Marvel comics. Volume 2 didn't come out until the mid-80s, and later volumes ran from the mid-2000s until present day. I didn't read these later ones because I was too busy making a living and paying the mortgage by then.

So The Eternals are new to me and I believe that makes me biased. I'll plough on with this review regardless, but bear that in mind.

Main characters in The Eternals.
Copyright © Disney/Marvel

The movie itself is by no means terrible in my opinion, but I found it hard to buy into the characters. I will admit my aforementioned bias is responsible for some of that, but the characterisation is what made The Avengers in my opinion. Sure, there was plenty action too, but the slow build up with movies dedicated to many of the individual characters allowed us to get to know a lot of them before they were thrown together as unit in Avengers 1. The interactions between the various characters then became a subplot in its own right, and I think that gave The Avengers their edge.

With The Eternals all the characters are thrown at us at once. If you've read the comics you probably already know much more about these characters, but I didn't and I didn't have the individual introductions the way The Avengers was done.

Furthermore, they're all godly, spacey characters, if you'll pardon my clumsy phrasing. Sure, in The Avengers we had Thor, who was a god, and we had the Guardians of the Galaxy, who were (mostly) from space, but there were enough Earthlings to make it easier for us to identify with the characters.

What we have with The Eternals are a bunch of extraterrestrial characters who've been on Earth for 7,000 years. We're told they didn't intervene with Thanos because their remit prevents them interfering with Earth's history other than to dispatch Deviants, their arch-enemies. Yet they do seem to interfere with Earth's history quite a lot.

The production values are fine, there are a few stars in the cast, there's humour, there's action and the plot's okay — just 'okay', mind — but it didn't really float my boat. As a standalone I'll give it 2.5 stars. There'll be a second Eternals movie and I'll watch it because I'm a nerd for this stuff and I'll be hoping it grabs me a bit more than this one. Ultimately, though, the characters feel more DC than Marvel to me, and that's not a compliment.

I'd rather have seen the X-Men or the Fantastic Four given the MCU treatment as a follow-up to The Avengers, but that's my bias talking — I read those comics.

Article tagged with: Entertainment, Films, Review