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Friday, June 14
The Indiana Daily Student

arts review

COLUMN: Ignore critic reviews, watch Marvel movie ‘Eternals’


Before there were Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy, there were the Eternals. Sent on a mission by the celestial Arishem to battle deviant creatures on Earth, 10 Eternals spent centuries defending the planet from the deviants living among humankind.

Considering the Chloe Zhao-directed film introduces 10 completely new leads to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the writers did a remarkable job in introducing the characters and their powers. While there is not one set lead role in the “Eternals,” it can be argued that some characters are spotlighted and valued more as the lead than others in the movie. 

Some “Eternals” stars include Gemma Chan as Sersi, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Angelina Jolie as Thena, Barry Keoghan as Druig and Lauren Ridloff as Makkari.

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Looking back at the plot and character arcs, I am not even sure who I would dictate as the “main character,” but I do have a slight idea on which characters fall into a “side character” role — like Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo (who has his own sidekick too, Harish Patel as Karun) and Lia McHugh as Sprite.

Overall, I wish some characters received less screen time. I also wish those “side character” leads had received more development.

This movie is perfect for new fans of Marvel. Coming off of the Avengers era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Phase Four has done a great job in closing, continuing and introducing storylines and characters that tie into the previous Marvel films.

But “Eternals” is not the same. Instead of having direct connections to Marvel Phases One through Three, the film has one or two references to major story arcs in the previous films. While other Marvel content in Phase Four, like “Black Widow,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” or even “What If…?” had an intersection of new characters with old characters, “Eternals” is solely focused on introducing the new characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe — making it the perfect introductory film to Marvel for potential new fans.

The film also does a lot of worldbuilding, focusing on what exactly eternal beings are and the history of celestials. Watching the movie, I found myself automatically disconnecting from what previous Marvel movies had looked like. This is something that is necessary with this movie because it is not like the films that Marvel fans are used to.

Yes, it has amazing comedy and action sequences, but the storytelling is focused on worldbuilding and attempting to tell the storyline of 10 different characters for the first time on screen. Personally, I think the Marvel writers did a pretty good job in doing this, not only in developing the Eternals individually but also as partners and a family.  

“Eternals” serves as a representation for a greater audience pool. Ridloff portrays the first deaf superhero in Marvel as Makkari. The film also features the first Marvel kiss between gay characters, Phastos – played by Brian Tyree Henry – and Ben, played by Haaz Sleiman. 

In addition, “Eternals” has the first sex scene in a Marvel movie and one of the most diverse superhero teams.

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One of the creative decisions made for the film was to change the gender and ethnicity of some of the Eternals. Ajak and Makkari, for example, were white, male superheroes in the original comics. In the film, Salma Hayek portrayed Ajak and Ridloff portrayed Makkari.

Additionally, the comic book version of Makkari was not deaf. However, having that representation in a major industry is important, and I am proud of Marvel for making that decision.

The movie, albeit receiving original poor reviews from critics, has had a pretty positive response from fans. After its opening weekend, the film earned over $161 million at the box office and was No. 1 globally.

“Eternals” also has two end-credit scenes that introduce new storylines and characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Regardless of what the reviews say, this movie deserves to be watched and supported for making strides in diversity and attempting to introduce new Marvel superheroes.

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