Eternals (2021)

eternals poster 2021 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Different than most MCU, diverse cast, interesting characters

Too long, not all characters were given their due

Movie Info

Movie Name: Eternals

Studio:  Marvel Studios/TSG Entertainment

Genre(s): Comic Book/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  October 18, 2021 (Premiere)/November 5, 2021 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

eternals team cast

The Eternals have arrived!

Brought to Earth to protect it in 5000 BC by the Celestial Arishem the Judge, the Eternals are a powerful race of superhumans with individual gifts and abilities.  Over the years, the Eternals have completed their mission to stop the spread of the Deviants and now live among us.  When Sersi (Gemma Chan), Sprite (Lia McHugh), and Sersi’s boyfriend Dane Whitman (Kit Harington) are attacked by a Deviant, a new threat is discovered.  Rallying behind Ikaris (Richard Madden), the Eternals are preparing for a threat that could not only end humanity, but Earth itself…but is the power of the Eternals strong enough to even overcome it?

eternals deviant kro kills ajak salma hayek

Hey, Ajak…you have crappy friends

Directed by Chloé Zhao, Eternals is a Marvel Comics action-adventure superhero film.  Following Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in 2021, the movie is the twenty-sixth film in the series and part of Marvel’s Phase Four films.  It received criticism and praise upon its release for its diverse cast.

The Eternals were a strange lot.  Unlike many, I was pretty familiar with them before the movie was even announced, and despite having read most of their appearances, getting a handle on them is tough.  Jack Kirby returned to Marvel from DC and wanted to continue his themes from the New Gods and The Eternals were born.  Initially not part of the Marvel Universe but in their own “world”, the characters were soon merged with the Marvel traditional comic book universe and always felt a little out of place in the bigger Marvel picture despite attempts to bring them in…Eternals in many ways feels the same.

eternals ikaris richard madden eye beams superman

MARTHA?!?! My mother’s name is Martha too!?!?!

Despite some references to bigger MCU events (aka Thanos and the Avengers who are not seen), the movie largely feels independent of the MCU.  Even though the events of Thanos fractured the world, I think the appearance of a giant ship popping up all over the planet would at least attract S.H.I.E.L.D.’s attention…since the Eternals are isolated, it feels like its own mythos.  You have a very classic Greek storyline mixed with a Shakespearian tale of betrayal.  The characters are a big functional-dysfunctional family that like many families doesn’t talk about the real problems and questions until it is too late.  There are questions of independence, personal freedom, predestination, and being true to one’s self above all.  Comic book The Eternals was largely an atheist plot with the Celestials manipulating creatures of Earth into three forms (humans, Deviants, and Eternals), and the movie largely avoids the idea that the Celestials are essentially our gods (probably for obvious reasons).

The cast stirred unnecessary controversy and created backlash against the movie from conservative groups that felt it was too “woke”.  The Eternals are supposed to mix among people and be a large swath of representation.  Also, they have lives of thousands and thousands of years…people grow and change over a lifetime…imagine the course of lifetimes.  Issues of race, sexuality, and other societal problems would probably resolve themselves among the characters…an Eternals team that was not inclusive would be a bigger question about society than an inclusive one.

eternals thena battle ikaris richard madden angelina jolie

Family fights are fun!

The cast is good.  When initially released, I assumed Angelina Jolie would have been Sersi who is the most recognizable of the Eternals, but she takes the role of Thena (who was almost the princess of the Eternals when they had a leader in Zuras).  Gemma Chan makes a solid lead and a good foil to Richard Madden’s Ikaris who might have the most multifaceted character of the group.  Unlike a lot of movies where there is a lot of quips, Eternals keeps it minimum and leaves them largely to the entertaining Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo.  Lia McHugh is good as the much more vulnerable (and complex) eternally young Sprite who has room for more exploration than the film can provide.  Barry Keoghan’s Druig likewise doesn’t get enough play but I do enjoy Don Lee’s Gilgamesh and Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos.  Ajak’s was often behind the scenes in the comic so I didn’t expect much from Salma Hayek’s character (who likewise isn’t there much).  Kit Harington feels a bit like set-dressing in his small role which sets him up for bigger as the Black Knight.  Another underused character who shows her interesting side in the final battle is Lauren Ridloff as the gender flipped Makkari (who was always a personal favorite next to Sersi).

eternals celestial arishem the judge

You Eternals have some explaining to do

Visually, the movie is rather stunning it is big and bold.  The opening presents the Eternals as gods and even has some visuals that harken back to 2001:  A Space Odyssey with ship appearing almost like the Monolith in that classic film (and with the characters serving to advance humanity as well).  Eternals is a movie that takes place all over time and the world, and the movie gets that with a number of unique locations and sets.  I feel that the Deviants were a little less impressive (but since they almost looked like Muppets in the original comic book series, I understand that).

Eternals is probably pretty divisive because it is not like its peers, but I did enjoy it for everything that it wasn’t…and I’m still amazed to see comic book characters like the Eternals on the big screen.  It didn’t feel like a MCU movie and personally, having a bit of burn-out, that was a good thing.  It didn’t have traditional enemies, and it didn’t follow the same progress of many of the genre’s paths (yeah it ends in a battle which is kind of fun at points, but that is expected).  It was too long and had such a broad cast that it was a shame that some fell by the wayside.  I look forward to the Eternals returning and hope that people give the film the chance it deserves instead of taking somewhat biased aka pre-release reviews that were out to bring the film down.  Eternals is followed by Spider-Man:  No Way Home in December 2021.

Related Links:

The Eternals by Jack Kirby—The Complete Collection

The Eternals:  The Dreaming Celestial Saga


Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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