The latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, titled simply Eternals, does a commendable job of condensing seven thousand years’ worth of the title group’s history into a two hour and thirty-seven minute film, while simultaneously engaging viewers in a modern day tale of heroics.
Now, I must confess that, prior to watching this film, I knew nothing about the Eternals, so I really can’t speak to the accuracy of their depiction. What I can tell you is that there was never a point where I was confused about what was happening in the movie or why it was happening, despite the fact that I was learning about this rather large group of characters for the very first time.
This, I think, is largely thanks to the time that director Chloe Zhao took to properly introduce audiences to The Eternals, whom we learn are a group of beautiful, super-powered alien beings from the planet Olympia. They have been are charged with the task of protecting Earth from mysterious, beast-like monsters called Deviants, a task assigned them by a Celestial called Arishem. The oldest race in the universe, Celestials are beings that we’ve seen before in the MCU, which now we get to learn more about in Eternals.
Strictly forbidden to interfere with life on Earth beyond subtly guiding the human race towards slow, gradual societal and technological advancement, the Eternals have been gently helping us as a species for the past seven thousand years, growing us from small pockets of humanity in ancient Mesopotamia to the nearly eight billion strong that we are today by using their unique skill sets. They have been with us always, killing off the terrifying Deviants that would destroy us, but otherwise remaining hidden in the myths and legends of history.
Selma Hayek as Ajak
The Eternals’ leader, Ajak (portrayed by Selma Hayek), is the only member of the group that has the ability to communicate with Arishem. She is both a matriarchal figure to the dysfunctional family that is the Eternals and the only bridge between them and the Celestials. She leads the Eternals to believe that, once all of the Deviants have been eliminated, they can return to their home planet of Olympia.
Despite being an alien race, the Eternals look like humans. Immortal and unageing, they each possess a unique power that either aids them in helping the advancement of the human race, or in fighting and killing the Deviants.
Learning about each of these hero’s different powers and seeing how they utilize them is a compelling part of the film, as are the dynamics between the Eternals. These characters have known each other for seven thousand years and have had that long to either love or hate each other and I felt that the film did a good job of highlighting some of the personal conflicts between them. I think the MCU has proven both with Eternals and previously with Guardians of the Galaxy that they can bring together a group of characters that were previously largely unknown to most viewers and breath life into their individual personalities. Although many reviewers have suggested that perhaps a Disney+ miniseries would’ve been a better way to explore each of these characters (because there are so many of them), I think that Zhao did an excellent job of it in the film. And, despite being a very character driven story, the film doesn’t fail to deliver on action and fighting scenes, as well as some truly gorgeous costuming and sets. Perhaps it's because I've always been a bit of a history buff, but I loved seeing all of the different cultures and societies that were depicted in the film.
Babylon, as depicted in Eternals
My only real complaint about Eternals is the fact that there were several scenes where it was literally too dark to see what was happening on the screen. Perhaps it was just a flaw of the theater where I saw the film, but there were several times where I had an idea of what was happening, but just couldn’t see it due to poor lighting in the film.
The film did have the MCU’s trademark humor, with most jokes inciting giggles or outright laughs from the audience. It’s a formula that the MCU has relied on since the first Iron Man movie, and it’s one that’s worked well for them, with Eternals being no exception.
Kit Harrington and Gemma Chan
Finally, Kit Harrington has a small role in The Eternals as the human love interest of Sersi (Gemma Chan), an Eternal with the power to manipulate non-sentient matter who has an immense love for Earth and humanity. It’s worth mentioning that Harrington’s former Game of Thrones costar Richard Madden’s character Ikaris, an Eternal who possesses the ability to fly and shoot energy beams from his eyes, also had a love story with Sersi at one point. Essentially, this results in Jon Snow and Rob Stark being involved in a love triangle with a character named Sersi, a fact that GOT fans will likely find immensely ironic.
Richard Madden as Ikaris and Gemma Chan as Sersi
Ultimately, I enjoyed this film. It’s not my favorite MCU installment of all time, but it’s definitely one that I’ll watch again. Especially as Eternals features two extremely compelling after credits scenes that hint at some intriguing future content.
Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.