Review: Eternals (12a) - A Delightful Deviation from the Marvel Formula

With the latest entry in the MCU being helmed by Academy Award winning director Chloé Zhao, expectations were certainly high. Will this remain eternal in people's minds or forgotten by tomorrow?

Jessica Mckeown
24th November 2021
Credit: IMDb
When Wandavision was released at the start of the year, it was clear that it was breaking the standard Marvel formula by incorporating sitcoms. But would it be a trend that the rest of phase four would follow?
Even immortal beings need sunglasses sometimes, Credit: IMDb

Eternals follows a group of immortal beings sent by the Celestials, the creators of the universe, to defend Earth from predators known as Deviants. Taking place in a post-Blip world with extended flashbacks throughout time placing the Eternals in historical locations such as Babylon and the Aztec Empire, the film conveys that they have always been present in the Marvel universe, just not getting involved. The film delves deep into the cosmic history and lore of the Marvel universe. This deep history and dominating presence of the Celestials makes everything else we have seen so far in the MCU feel so insignificant in comparison. Marvel seems to be laying the groundwork for several continuing storylines in their phase four projects so far, particularly the multiverse storyline. Yet it is unclear how and where the Eternals story will go.

A love triangle at the heart of the film sidelines some members of the cast

Despite featuring big stars such as Angelina Jolie (Maleficent) playing Thena, Salma Hayek (Frida) as Ajax and Richard Madden (Bodyguard) as Ikaris, it is Gemma Chan’s (Captain Marvel) Sersi who is the central character of the film. She is involved in a love triangle between Ikaris, who she was in a relationship with for thousands of years, and Dane Whitman (played by Game of Throne’s Kit Harrington), teased to be the future Black Knight. The love story is at the emotional heart of the film, but it, unfortunately, caused some of the other Eternals to be side-lined. One Eternal I wish we saw more of is Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff (The Walking Dead). Makkari is a speedster and is the first deaf superhero in the franchise yet got significantly less screentime than the others as she was the last to appear when the team reassembles.

Lia McHugh's perpetually young Sprite in Eternals, Credit: IMDb

There are some great performances in the film particularly from Angelina Jolie whose character Thena suffers from a mental illness similar to dementia, struggling under the weight of having memories spanning thousands of years. Another noteworthy performance is Lia McHugh’s (The Lodge) Sprite who is stuck looking like a thirteen-year-old for eternity and her despair at not being able to grow up.

Standing at an impressive two and half hours, the film felt like a sci-fi epic hybrid of the superhero genre. Unlike the colour palettes of some other Marvel films, the film is rich in colour and filled with stunning visuals. A memorable scene is when Sersi changes a flipping bus into rose petals. The CGI used in the Eternals for their powers takes a gold minimalist look that differentiates this from the other CGI battles. With beautiful visuals and set pieces, it stands out from the other MCU films in part due to director Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and her unique directorial style.

At its heart, it still feels like a superhero film but it is unique with its mythos and style. It seems to me that Marvel should keep changing up its formula to make their individual films more memorable.

4/5 stars

Eternals is now showing in cinemas.

Credit: Marvel Entertainment on YouTube
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