It has taken me quite a while to compile my thoughts on perhaps the most polarizing Marvel film to come out. With an overly ambitious plot fueled by loads of exposition and drawn-out sequences, Eternals is currently the lowest-rated MCU release — though it hardly deserves that placement.
I’m not saying those who disliked this film are wrong. I actually agree with many of the critiques, and I understand how some could be a dealbreaker for some viewers. For me, a lot of it comes down to far too much being done in an attempt to carve out and solidify this epic new direction for Phase Four of the MCU.
With a runtime of over 2.5 hours, the film does feel a bit stuffed. A lot of exposition is delivered throughout by clunky past timeline sequences. This was by far the weakest point for me, as they were long and woven in at times that stunted the progression of the story. Fine-tuning all of that would have really improved the overall flow.
Character development was rich, perhaps one upside to all those flashbacks, as we were able to get familiar with their pasts and evolving dynamics. An unexpected standout for me was Gemma Chan‘s Sersi, as she steps out as the lead with a wonderfully compassionate performance. And even the budding romance between Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) and Druig (Barry Keoghan) continued to build that personal investment with viewers like myself.
Though I will say, some characters are a bit underdeveloped, mainly with its biggest star, Angelina Jolie. It almost felt purposeful to perhaps dull her magnetic star quality in an attempt to avoid her overpowering the rest of the cast. But when you have Jolie in your film, just let her badassery shine.
Visually the film is a spectacle. With beautiful cinematography and gorgeous costume design, the technical portions of the film are top-tier Marvel. I think that’s what director Chloé Zhao does best — ensuring her films have breathtaking sights. Which at times may have been more top of mind than the overall story.
Action sequences are fun and engaging, with every hero getting a moment to have their powers take center stage. There’s great chemistry between the team, and I loved the banter and humor throughout that felt well-balanced, mainly in the present timeline.
The issue with Eternals is with every compliment, there can be a caveat. But again, I would never call this the worst film in the MCU. Despite some weak moments and a slightly muddled execution, I think it has a lot of entertaining aspects. At its core, it has a great foundation and doesn’t overdo it with tie-ins to other Marvel films, really sticking to creating this new world for these very different superheroes.
While the sentient being plotline is a bit messy and tricky to follow, I expect they’ll find a better way to balance it and avoid overcomplicating things as they dive into it more in the sequel. Which I’m still very excited about.
Eternals certainly should not be written off due to their ambitiousness. It has plenty left to explore and improve going forward. With a more consistent present timeline, there are a lot of strengths waiting to be fully unleashed — including more Kit Harington.
Eternals is now streaming on Disney+