ETERNALS

DISCLAIMER: This review contains major spoilers for the 2021 Marvel film “Eternals.”

Even before its release on Nov. 6, Marvel’s newest Blockbuster “Eternals” — directed by “Nomadland” director Chloe Zhao — was making waves on the internet. Critics were fiercely divided. According to the Direct, the movie’s IMDb reviews were being filled with negative ratings from fans who had yet to see the movie but were dissatisfied with the movie’s LGBTQIA+ representation. 

Critics were so divided that “Eternals” received the lowest Rotten Tomatoes critic’s score, a startling 46%, a full 20% behind the previous Marvel record holder, “Thor the Dark World” (2013).

However, it can be misleading to look only at the Rotten Tomatoes critic’s score, since “Eternals” received much more positive reviews from its viewers. According to Rotten Tomatoes, as of Nov. 22, “Eternals” had an audience score of 80%.

The invisible line drawn in the sand between the film’s viewers and critics is the movie’s groundbreaking diversity. 

Eternals was, after all, one of the most diverse Marvel movies to date, with main characters and their actors representing the Deaf, LGBTQIA+, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Black and Latinx communities. 

Not only did the movie feature diverse voices, but Marvel has actively promoted these aspects of the film by refusing to censor the film after Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar banned the film due to its inclusion of an openly gay character, according to entertainment news outlet IndieWire

There were also widespread positive reactions to the movie’s diversity. The inclusion of Makkari, the first deaf superhero in a Marvel film, played by Lauren Ridloff, led to an increased interest in American Sign Language, which the character uses throughout the movie. 

After the release of the movie, according to the news agency Independent, "There has been a 250 percent spike in searches for ‘learn sign language for beginners’ as excitement surrounding Chloé Zhao’s film grew in the last year.”  Searches for Ridloff along with the phrase “first deaf superhero,” have also drastically increased since the movie’s release. 

Even though the diversity in the movie is undeniable and groundbreaking for a Marvel film, it is still important to recognize that just because a film is diverse does not necessarily mean it is good. That being said, after seeing “Eternals,” I found it impossible to reconcile the movie I had seen with the incredibly poor reviews I had read.

While “Eternals” is not the best of Marvel’s movies, I was enraptured by it. Zhao’s eye for lighting along with the film’s breathtaking color palette was unlike anything I had seen in a Marvel film before. 

I found the plot to be intricate without being confusing, and the twist of Ikaris’ betrayal was one of the first plot twists in a Marvel film to truly catch me off guard. 

Widely known actors and comedians such as Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Kit Harrington and Kumail Nanjiani along with lesser-known names such as Ridloff, Brain Tyree Henry, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee and Lia McHugh all gave stunning performances that didn’t overshadow each other but rather elevated their fellow cast members. Each actor gave a memorable performance which served to define and flesh out their characters. 

While it was difficult to give appropriate screen time to each character, leaving some feeling underdeveloped and more like caricatures rather than characters, I still found myself attached to each member of the Eternals; each character had their own unique point of view and characteristic humor that made them feel real and human, despite being anything but.

In the end, that is what I found most remarkable about this movie; it was Marvel’s movie about immortal, cyborg-like super-beings that felt most like a story of human triumph and failure. Each of the characters drew empathy from me as a viewer in refreshingly unique ways. It was witty, it was funny, it was heartbreaking, it was mind-bending, but it still felt real and distinctly human.

 

Follow Lillian Durr on Twitter, @lillian_durr

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Section Editor

Lillian Durr is the Politics, Social and Pop Culture section editor at The Standard for the 2021-22 school year. She is a sophomore in English-creative writing. She also previously wrote for The Standard as a columnist during the 2020-2021 school year.