Why Marvel’s Brutally Hit Eternals Would Have Made More Sense As A Disney Plus Series
Over the past decade, Marvel has produced the stunning blockbusters as well as forgettable movies that just coalesced into a frozen mass that fans pretend they don’t remember. However, The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t giving up – it continues to desperately justify Thor: The Dark World’s existence, hoping die-hard fans will accept that it was relevant. And, it could do the same for The Eternals. The film is now out on Disney Plus Hotstar.
No Marvel movie has been criticized as harshly as The Eternals, which is of little relief to DC fans, who haven’t had much to smile about in recent years. Although the film earned $162 million in its opening weekend, it fell short of box office expectations. It was the first Marvel movie to be rated rotten and even before its release it was attacked on IMDb. There was already strong resentment against the film, and most viewers watched it with preconceptions.
To be honest, they weren’t entirely wrong.
Directed by Chloe Zhao, the film’s fundamental flaw was its attempt to cram too much content into too little time. Ten different characters were thrown at you, with heavy exposition, as you were thrown into a mad dash through numerous timelines. It’s like being on a roller coaster for two hours, with someone talking in your ear as you try to figure out what’s going on. The film is an ambitious project, as it reveals events in MCU history that no one was aware of, spanning the history of mankind. The premise was promising, but the execution was shoddy and underwhelming. In short, it was a mess.
So who were the Eternals, and why did they decide to show up now, and not when Thanos was planning to grind half the universe to dust? The Eternals are superheroes who have resided on Earth for several millennia. They include Ajak (Salma Hayek), Sersi (Gemma Chan), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Klingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) , Druig (Barry Keoghan) and Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok). Marvel racked its brains trying to give the audience a compelling reason as to why they decided to sit down during the Thanos episode and came up with a rather coy excuse. Apparently the Eternals can only engage in battles with Deviants, and no one else. This is at odds with the group constantly expressing their desire to protect human society, considering that the world has almost come to an end many times.
The stories of The Eternals are crammed into a long 2.5 hour runtime. Half an hour into the movie, there’s the death of a superhero, and you don’t have the heart or the time to mourn them. There’s no time to feel invested in any of them, not even the cursed romance between Ikaris and Sersi. These two had a blossoming romance for 5,000 years and were also married during the Gupta age in India, with a garland ritual as saree-clad women showered them with flowers. They sealed it with a kiss; maybe the Guptas were more advanced than we think.
There’s a lot that sticks out like a sore thumb in this film – starting with Kit Harington, as well as Marvel’s comedic timing. Kumail Nanjiani does his best and Harish Patel, who plays his glorified assistant. It’s incomprehensible why Hollywood attempts a Bollywood sequence that appears as if they’ve never watched a dance before, but just heard someone, who hasn’t seen it themselves, describe it. It’s played for laughs, adding to the grimace already building up in the movie. Harish Patel, who is fluent in English throughout the film, decides to give a morose speech in Hindi just as he leaves the Eternals.
So what would have been the best way to handle a film as ambitious as The Eternals? For starters, it could have been a Disney Plus series — giving us more time to understand each character, their motivations, and their powers. In the movie, we don’t get much insight into their powers until the second half, and by then the world is (again) in danger. The love story that forms the crux of the film would have had time to grow, and even to pull on the heartstrings. Marvel has always played it safe with its couples. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts were wholesome, and you felt sorry for Steve Rogers when he realized his new world was without the love of his life, Peggy Carter. Still, the frustrating part of the Eternals’ love story was that you could see there was a chance their chemistry was explosive and filled with emotion. Instead, we could only scratch the surface. Audiences needed to understand their story and why their ill-fated romance was so magnetic. Unfortunately, only the other Eternals tell us. The last scene where Ikaris “flies close to the sun” with tears in his eyes after recalling his time with Sersi had the potential to be punchy and punchy, like a stab.
There is a serious wrong done to Angelina Jolie’s Thena, which so often fades into the background. She has the Mahd-Wyry, which causes her to momentarily turn against the rest of the group, and only Gilgamesh can control that. In a devastating turn of events, she loses him and is fired in revenge. Yet we only see snippets of those emotions in this rushed plot. That’s what many fans and critics have wondered, how can you have stars like Angelia Jolie and Salma Hayek in a movie and barely give them much screen time?
The Eternals could have been infinitely better as they ventured into new territory that Marvel hadn’t explored before. They deserved better.
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