Eternals is a film I put off covering for quite some time. There comes a point with the MCU films where it’s like we know what everyone is doing every moment of the day. By the time the film drops, what else is there left to say? They’re going to be fairly the same, as they are replicating the continuity of the publishing division. So, as a long term comic book fan…why is that same malaise transferring over to film?
Jack Kirby created The Eternals as a way to make peace with how he was unceremoniously dumped from his 4th World Saga at DC and how his time at Marvel ended years prior. Watching Gen Z kids and normies try to turn Stan Lee into a saint makes my skin crawl. Now, I get to listen to them split opinions on something that Jack Kirby gave his all to make work. But, much like that original series…Marvel couldn’t let it stand alone.
The Eternals comics was barely into its second year when Marvel started forcing ties and guest stars from the larger Marvel Universe. It’s no different than when Eternals the film starts shoving in more from the wider MCU and trying to make sense of how these characters exist within their larger world. They didn’t stop Thanos because humanity needed to do it. The Engineer guy introduced nuclear weapons to the same humanity for reasons.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is at a weird place right now. You had a logical conclusion for most other major film franchises with “Avengers: Endgame”, but this is Marvel. The never-ending serial is at the core of their nature. So, how does that translate to film? The answer is it doesn’t.
When you get people to talk about comics, they will often bemoan the serial nature of the stories and cry about things that don’t end. Even with Kirkman’s recent comics Invincible and The Walking Dead that told complete and finite stories…it wasn’t enough. There is a certain kind of person that can’t accept stories that don’t fit to traditional structures. I’m not saying that there isn’t a simple beauty and truth to that format.
However, Disney is really experimenting with how to tell the longest story possible across many of their brands. The problem is while a creator knows where it’s going, there is a difference in time between a monthly book and years between installments of MCU fare. For a new franchise, new ideas and all of that stuff, you’re asking a lot of a casual audience.
Names like Sersi, Dane Whitman and Ikaris don’t inspire people in the way that they got initial origin films for Captain America, Iron Man and Thor. Those characters had multiple films to form an identity, rapport and audience friendly nature. Right now, we’re dealing with secret Gods that could help, but only do when their lives become a cosmic level murder mystery.
The rest of the movie is a hunt through the lives of people that you don’t care about with no direct connection to the things about Marvel that you like. In a way, Kirby’s version has been bastardized and then discovered much like in 1978 that you can’t reshape an individual take into a corporate one. Beyond that point, Eternals also then finds itself forced into giving a way for people to feel excited.
Eternals is on Digital now and you can catch it on Disney Plus. However, the upcoming disc releases come with a ton of featurettes and related format goodies. Wait for the disc or watch it now, the choice is up to you! Just don’t get my original thought stuck in your head about Eternals. That being, Eternals is the first Disney movie about a group of friends coming together to stage an abortion.