The Eternals ranks with the best of Marvel Universe movies and ushers in a new era of films.
There was some concern about a new film that introduces so many new characters into the already crowded Marvel universe, but the fears are unrealized.
The Eternals, based on Jack Kirby’s 1976 comic series, takes the writer’s work and collapses it into a 157-minute classic that sweeps by. And it sets up future films in a world where a character asks, “Who will lead the Avengers now that Captain American and Iron Man are gone?”
In fact, the movie does what Kirby could not do: show the vastness and expanse of the universe. The scenes toward the end rendering the sheer size of a main protagonist are simply staggering and could only be appreciated on a big screen.
Simply stated, the Eternals are a group of god-like characters sent to Earth 7,000 years ago by the even more God-like Celestials to keep the planet safe from the evil Deviants until the Celestials return.
At least that’s what the Eternals believe. It turns out that the truth is much different.
The characters are perfect and truly represent all of mankind. In an era of inclusion, it sometimes feels contrived to have so many races, genders and sexual preferences joined together. But since the Eternals were sent to countries all over the world, it is logical they would have to fit in.
So it makes sense that Sersi, (Gemma Chan, last seen in Crazy Rich Asians) would be Asian, like the group’s muscle man, Gilgamesh (Don Lee) and Kingo, the closest thing to comedy relief in the film. Kingo is played by Kumail Nanjitani, who is a Bollywood movie star. You may not recognize Nanjitani’s name, but you’ll know him from dozens of films and television shows including Men In Black: International and HBO’s Silicon Valley.
The best part of the film is the sophistication of the characters; no one fits snugly in any single box. There are good guys that sometimes do bad things, bad guys that maybe aren’t so bad, and powerful characters like Angelina Jolie’s Thena, who periodically goes insane.
Fourteen-year-old Lia McHugh should be singled out for her portrayal of the childlike Sprite, who is trapped in an unaging childlike body and yearns to be treated as an adult. Writers Chloe Zhao (who also directed), Patrick Burleigh and Ryan Firpo wrote great scenes for her as she used her powers to cast illusions.
There are so many great actors in the film and so many memorable scenes. The brooding, self-sacrificing Don Lee dominates as Gilgamesh, who devoted his entire life to living in exile with his friend, Thena, and handling her fits of insanity.
Barry Keoghan is the mercurial Druig, the first to sense that the Eternals mission was not as benign as they were led to believe. His character is reminiscent of Loki.
Much has been said about the two post credit scenes, which are not to be missed. One gives some much-needed airtime to Kit Harrington, who plays Sersi’s lover, Dane Whitman. He never got to tell her that he was actually the superhero Black Knight, who has a tragic and mysterious past and will be crucial in upcoming films.
The other post-credit scene introduces two new characters into the Marvel movie mythos that are quite familiar to comic readers, Pip the Troll and Starfox, who hint at upcoming adventures.
The Eternals is a blast. Don’t be concerned if you have never read any of the comics it is based on. The film explains everything simply and succinctly, perhaps even better than Kirby did in the series.