Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Another Review: The Eternals (MCU)

The Eternals is the first MCU movie to acheive a negative score on Rotten Tomatoes, and I’m wondering why. While I don’t love it myself, I don’t think it deserves such disdain – and there are worse MCU movies.

Mostly, it’s just unremittingly generic; but it’s still not as dull as, say, Thor: The Dark World or The Incredible Hulk. It does do a couple of things that bug me, but they’re not things that I’d expect the critics to hate.

First, when I go to a movie that adapts a property I’m into, I want to see that property brought to life. So, when the film makers decide to redesign everything, it takes away from what I’m there to see, and that’s disappointing. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s annoying.

This changes depending on my investment in the original. Example: I hated Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy as an adaptation of the character, but I liked this new character, and loved the movie.

The Eternals in comics are characters I’m aware of, and I know their origins, but I’m not really attached to them, so I don’t mind as much. But it’s still annoying.

I stole this from somebody else’s post, but since we had it, why not use it?

The original Eternals were expys of the Greco-Roman gods, Chariots Of The Gods -style. In the movie, they’ve added some of the more recent Eternals, which are more global; however, they’ve rolled the dice on what they actually look like. Thena looks like she does in the comics – she’s a great match! – but not so much the rest. Makkari is now a black woman instead of Mercury, a male Greek god; They're no different she’s also deaf, which makes absolutely no sense when we learn their origins in the movie. Neither does Sprite being a permanent ‘child’, for that matter. (And of course, her entire motivation is she wants sex. Because of course Hollywood did that.)

You expect that kind of swapping these days – but the weird one is Kingu. I had to look him up, but apparently in the comics he’s Japanese. In the movie, he’s from India. I get the need to increase diversity – there aren’t a lot of roles for different races, but randomly changing a character without increasing diversity? Huh? Oh, and of course the only white guy is a villain. (Oh, and Zeras / Zeus is notably absent.)

Some have said in this movie they’re expys of the Justice League. There’s certainly a Wonder Woman (Thena), a Flash (Makkari), and a Superman (Ikaris). Ikaris actually gets mistaken for Superman in the movie. After that, the analogy kind of falls apart; I can’t really think who the rest are supposed to be when it comes to the JLA (but, I can barely remember any of them).

When watching it, I noticed one scene that I thought ‘this looks like the director is copying Man Of Steel; surely there are better sources to steal from?’ I found out later she’s a fan of that movie, and it was deliberate.


For all that, the characters are boring and forgettable. You know how I just said the only white guy is a villain? False. There’s heroic white guy, and he has one of the strongest arcs in the movie, and I still keep forgetting he’s even in there.

Apparently this guy’s in the movie too. I forgot.

They try to make up for it by doing that annoying thing where the main character (Sersi is the main character of this movie, easily) rejects the one thing she’s famous for. (Minor spoiler) Sersi of the Eternals, you see, is based on Circe of Greek mythology. In the movie, where she’s introduced as a teacher of evolution (clever!), she straight-up says she can’t turn a human being into another animal. And what’s the one thing Circe is famous for? That’s right, changing human beings into other animals. She kind of does the ‘arc’ where she learns to do it, kind of doesn’t.

That wasn’t fun when Robin Williams’ Popeye wouldn’t eat spinach, it wasn’t cool when Fred Dukes hated the name ‘Blob’, it doesn’t work here. Hollywood, let it go.

I said above that The Eternals is unremittingly generic. This is never more evident than with the Deviants. In the comics, they’re a group of mostly-humanoid creatures, each with a different colour, style, look, and power-set.

They deviate. Really!
You wouldn’t mistake these for each other.

In the movie, they look like any alien that could be in any recent franchise. They manage to be distinct – one’s a dragon, one’s a griffin – and still look exactly the same as each other.

Actually, this is from A Quiet Place.
This is how the Deviants look in The Eternals.

The Eternals has what I think is the first sex scene in an MCU movie. It adds absolutely nothing to the movie, and it breaks down a barrier that I don’t see any need to break. (I say I think it is, because I also thought Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings had the first dragon, and then I remembered Thor: Ragnorok.)

I usually put in a section about Christian representation in my reviews (still looking for that overrepresentation I supposedly get). In this one, I’m going to broaden it. The Eternals, both Kirby’s and the movie version, follows the Chariots Of The Gods theory that myths and gods are really just aliens. The problem is, over the closing credits, they show all sorts of statues from world religions, and cover them with Eternals symbology, implying that they’re all just Eternals. (With the Judeo-Christian imagery, they only hit the angels.) It’s like they’re trying to offend all religions at the same time.

All these things annoy me, but I don’t know why they’d drag the movie down to ‘rotten’ levels for the usual critics; even with all that, there are less entertaining MCU movies. In terms of entertainment value, I’d put it in the lower-middle ranges. The things that annoy me, personally, annoy me enough that this will probably be the first MCU movie I won’t own on home media, but I really can’t see why others dislike more than all the other Marvel movies.

Watch it if you’re keeping up with the MCU, but miss it if you’re not a rabid fan of the comics or the movies.

For no reason, here’s a Celestial playing basketball. (I found this image while looking up the Deviants.)

3 points!A couple of spoileriffic points:

The movie is from the villains’ POV. Most of them become heroes by the end, but after years of seeing villainous ‘heroes’ in comics, I don’t like to see the trend begin in the movies. They’re basically robots here to hatch a Celestial egg inside the earth; the Celestial needs sapient mind energy, so they need to ensure population growth. They achieve this by protecting the humans against the Deviants, who’ve decided to prey upon the sapients of Celestial egg planets. (This leads to a stupid attempt at a moral dilemma that doesn’t really work but is central to the movie: “Should the Eternals save the planet so it’ll create a Celestial – killing everything on the planet – so it can cause the birth of another planet later? BTW, that planet will go through the same thing.’?)

In the lead-up to The Eternals, fans were wondering why the Eternals stepped back and didn’t help during all the crises the Avengers faced – specifically Thanos’ snap. It makes even less sense once you’ve seen the movie, and the above story. In a mid-credits scene, we learn that Thanos is an Eternal (like in the comics) – so not only did he set their cause back centuries, but he was one of them; they should’ve been protecting the humans either way.

Oh, also: we were supposed to get The Black Knight.

They actually made production art of him
Sir Not-Quite-Appearing-In-This-Film

Dane Whitman is a character, but never becomes The Black Knight. The movie ends with Blade’s voice making him question taking up the Ebon Blade (or so the director has said; there’s no reason to think it’s Blade. Why would he be the one to say this?). So Dane falls just short of an origin.


  1. While I think I liked the film better than you, I’m in total agreement on the Deviants. Though their physical design resembles a variation on the filigree energy constructs and tech the Celestials and Eternals use, which was a nice touch.
    I realized some time after watching that this really undercuts the Gods From Outer Space idea. In Kirby it was clear the Eternals/Deviants were ALL the gods — here there’s only seven so they’re not even the source of most of our myths. And Gilgamesh arrives on Earth too late to be a Sumerian figure. They’re just seven people who got worked into established mythologies.
    It also occurred to me that Sprite, looking about 14-16, would be adult for most of human history — the age of consent in 19th century US was 10 — so it’s not like she couldn’t get laid if she’d wanted to. Though I can understand the film not going that way.

  2. jccalhoun

    I agree that it was forgettable. All the flashbacks were pretty pointless. Sure we see them helping humanity and being in love but a couple lines of dialog would have served the same purpose and cut down the run time.

    The changes from the comic were fine in theory but in practice they don’t make sense. Sprite being forever a child is the biggest one. I will say, I didn’t see Sprite as wanting to have sex but wanting to have love.

    When the main Deviant talked I thought they were going to give that character an actual storyline but nope they just kind of didn’t really follow up on it.

    The MCU is in kind of a weird place now that they have killed off Iron Man and Captain America is out of the picture. They are trying to rebuild their roster but it hasn’t been that succesful for me. Maybe I’m just tired of the superhero movie formula (For example, I think Shang Chi should have cut out all the mystical stuff and just been a martial arts movie) I didn’t like Wandavision very much but Hawkeye was pretty fun. I hope Moon Knight and the Dr. Strange sequel are good.

    1. Le Messor

      I didn’t see Sprite as wanting to have sex but wanting to have love.
      Either way, she was old enough – see Fraser’s first comment. Either way, I’m personally tired of the trope, though I get that others aren’t. Someday I want to see a character who’s an eternal child who, being a child, just doesn’t think about it.

      I think we’re the opposite on the others, though; I liked Shang-Chi better because it had magic, and I liked WandaVision better than Hawkeye (but I liked both).

      I’m a fantasy-only guy, though.

  3. I didn’t have a problem with the reveal about what their mission really was, but as others have pointed out, Ajak’s decision to switch sides really isn’t set up — just general assertions about how wonderful humans are. And we’re apparently supposed to take Arishem’s declaration about the Needs Of The Many without any real proof he’s right.
    The references to the Avengers like Sprite’s discussion of who will be the next leader felt like product placement.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.