REVIEW: ‘Eternals’ Puts All in Place for a New Era of Superheroes

Movies November 9, 2021

REVIEW: ‘Eternals’ Puts All in Place for a New Era of Superheroes

‘Eternals’, the latest superhero genre entrant, shows that Thanos‘ snap in ‘Avengers: Infinity War‘ continues to reverberate through the Universe(s) into Marvel Studio’s Phase Four. It’s a humongous origin story which introduces ten new characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), makes its landing on Earth in spectacular fashion.

Starring seasoned names such as Gemma Chan (who plays Sersi, the Wizard), Angelina Jolie (Thena), Salma Hayek (Ajak) Kumail Nanjiani (Kingo) and Richard Madden (Ikaris), to the relatively newer crop, Lia McHugh, Eternals is in all intents and purposes not a small feat. It seeks to begin to steer us towards an MCU future which has to get bigger than the universal annihilation that the mad Titan brought. So the question then would beg, how exactly do you do that?

At the Eternals red carpet premiere in October, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige revealed that the film’s director, Chloe Zhao, had approached the Studio around the time ‘Avengers: Endgame‘ was screening, seeking to pitch her idea of the largest number of new superhero introductions in the franchise’s history on the big screen. By no means a small task, the anticipation then began to steadily build as teasers of these celestial beings began to emerge as the film industry began to bounce back towards the end of the first quarter of 2021, following the global coronavirus pandemic.

‘Eternals’ does not waste any time with its assignment, as ten extraterrestrial beings are at the start sent by a Celestial (god-like entities that control energy across galaxies), Arishem, to protect Earth by exterminating the Deviants from the face of the planet. Their first interactions with our race happens to be over seven thousand years ago, and the relationship has spanned millennia of human progress and technological advancement, largely thanks to the benevolence and knowledge of Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), the master technologist of the group. The only caveat to their mission on Earth is that they shall not interfere in human conflict, a directive often reinforced by the team’s leader, dubbed the Prime Eternal, Ajak (played by Salma Hayek).

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The film is truly a cinematic spectacle with no visible mistakes. At one of the longest running times of any Marvel Studios’ film, at just over 2 hours 35 mins, ‘Eternals’ does not feel lengthy at all. You get to indulge in the interwoven storylines of the present circumstances and challenges of each of the team members, as well as explore their complicated past. The romance, friendship, competitiveness and the battle for supremacy within the large team is a splendor to watch, just imagining how these supernatural beings with immense power, charged with being humanity’s protector, would dwell among us for so long and become a part of us.

The action sequences are breathtaking, no surprise there, with particular attention drawn to the execution of Makkari’s (played by Lauren Ridloff) speed. While Ikaris is recognised as the strongest of the group, a title often contested by the goddess of War, Thena, perhaps Druig (Barry Koeghan), with his mind control, would be the most formidable force. Whatever the case, each of the team’s titanic strengths is surprisingly balanced with a flaw that if left untethered, would be their ultimate undoing.

The representation in ‘Eternals’ is also a welcome gamble, like nothing seen before on a Marvel Studios’ production. From orientation to (dis)ability, disorders, and race, it’s a cornucopia of thoughts, and ideas, and beliefs and cultures. The film explores what it means to be human, and what it is that transcends our societal constructs; for with the paradigm that we are only part of a piece of this galaxy, what else could be out there? A multiverse?

Rating: 8.5/10

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