Eternals (2021)

Director: Chloé Zhao
Writer: Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, Kaz Firpo
Based on: Jack Kirby‘s comic
Cast: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Ma Dong-seok, Harish Patel, Bill Skarsgård, Harry Styles, Patton Oswalt
Part of: Marvel movies
Seen on: 18.11.2021

Three thousand years ago, a group of humanoid aliens were sent to Earth to protect it and its humans from the deviants – monsters that love to eat them. Led by Ajak (Salma Hayek), they are a fierce group of warriors, all with their special talents. 500 years ago, they got rid of the last deviant and dispersed, waiting to be called back to their home planet. Sersi (Gemma Chan) ended up in London where she is dating the human Dane (Kit Harington) after a break-up with her fellow Eternal Ikaris (Richard Madden). Sprite (Lia McHugh), another of the Eternals, lives with her. Things appear pretty settled – until they are unexpectedly attacked by a deviant that already drew Ikaris’ attention. It appears that the Eternals have to come back together as their mission isn’t over yet.

Eternals gets many things right, even if it doesn’t fit easily with the rest of the MCU. Be that as it may, I enjoyed a lot about it, but not without some reservations.

THe film poster, showing the ten Eternals standing on a river shore in their armor.

Going into Eternals, I was really excited to see Zhao scale up from her more indie productions that aren’t exactly ensemble pieces, especially since she really assembled a fantastic cast for the Eternals – and a nicely diverse one, too. I thought that she handled the very different requirements very well overall, even if at a slightly bumpy pace.

I have to say, that the Eternals as characters were the best thing about the film for me. It’s nice to see how they all get to be so very different from each other, each vibrant in their own way. At the same time, though, there were a couple of things that I struggled with, especially with the characters that didn’t take center stage. For example, Sprite looks like a teenager – and is also treated as such by the other Eternals who know damn well that she is 3000 years old like them. That struck me as very weird. I also would have liked it a little better if the dynamic between Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok who was at least as charming and show-stealing as in Train to Busan) and Thena (Angelina Jolie) would have been more openly romantic because it felt weird for the Asian dude to basically volunteer as a servant for the white woman.

Ikaris (Richard Madden) and Sersi (Gemma Chan) in the desert. He is holding his hand out to her.

I did have trouble fitting Eternals into the larger MCU, I have to say. I think that will need a bit of handwaving and world-building acrobatics to really work. I’m certainly glad, I don’t have to think of it and explain everything. Explanation-wise I was also less than thrilled that we get an explanation for global warming here that has nothing to do with humanity, but that’s just a sidenote. Plus, that they went out of their way to give the deviants (who looked really cool, by the way) a voice to complain about their genocide only for the heroes to kill them anyway is uncomfortable, to say the least.

But that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t enjoy the ride as it lasted. There were nice jokes, big emotions and beautiful people (seriously, Gemma Chan needs to stop being so beautiful, I don’t know if I can take it anymore) that definitely make the movie worth seeing.

Ajak (Salma Hayek) in Babylon.

Summarizing: I liked it.

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