A diverse band of god-like heroes with familiar human problems enter the Marvel fold in award-winning director Chloé Zhao’s Eternals.
The titular Eternals are literally that – eternal beings with god-like superpowers, sent to Earth thousands of years ago to live impartially among and protect its inhabitants from deadly creatures known as Deviants.
Living alongside humans for so long has, however, made these immortal beings human-like themselves, feeling and carrying the same emotions as their neighbours. When the Deviants return after being believed to have been eradicated several hundreds of years ago, the Eternals must work together to fight a looming, galactic threat while coming to terms with their own fragilities.
Chloé Zhao’s film is a different type of MCU film in that its characters, despite being immensely powerful immortal beings, are utterly relatable. They’ve lived, lost, and loved thousands of times over, and the weariness of that cycle shows on them. When faced with a dilemma of catastrophic consequences, they have to choose whether to follow their intrinsic nature or take the moral high ground. This choice gives the characters a depth and range not yet seen in a Marvel film.
The diversity of the cast and characters is another significant aspect that adds to the thematic beats of the film. Representing a broad range of cultures and identities, Eternals is that much more relatable. It’s genuinely the first multicultural and multi-identity superhero film and finds success in not over-emphasising the point. While it’s evident that inclusivity was a big part of the film’s development, it doesn’t get in the way of the narrative; rather, it enhances it.
The film suffers because it follows familiar MCU tropes, and while it tries to disguise itself as something unique, it’s easy to see through the facade. These tropes are what has made Marvel films so successful, however, so you’d be inclined to forgive the filmmakers for sticking to the blueprint, but it also certainly doesn’t help with superhero movie fatigue. Thankfully, through the award-winning lens of Chloé Zhao, we’re at least treated to some stunning cinematography and set design, somewhat separating this film from the rest.
The scope of the MCU was massive leading up to this film, and Eternals further expands it. The characters and themes introduced in this film open up the MCU to infinite opportunities and shows that characters representing a broad range of identities have a place on the biggest stage. It’s a big step forward for superhero movies and an entertaining one to boot.
The cast and crew were evacuated from the Canary Islands set in November 2019 due to the discovery of some bomb remnants from a military shooting range near the set. Angelina Jolie and Richard Madden were present on set and eventually evacuated.