‘Eternals’ review: A bold, refreshing new step for the Marvel Universe

Andrik Fernandes
  • The film, directed by Oscar winner Chloe Zhao and starring Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan and Kumail Nanjiani, adds depth to the MCU
  • Why didn’t these cosmic superheroes intervene during the Infinity War? We’ll find out
Andrik Fernandes |

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This image released by Marvel Studios shows Kumail Nanjiani in a scene from “Eternals”, the latest addition to the MCU. Photo: Marvel Studios via AP

While Marvel Studios is generally known for its fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping blockbusters, it has chosen to break away from the mould with the release of Eternals, which takes a bold step in a new direction and adds greater depth to the franchise.

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From the start of the film, audiences will recognise that there is something refreshing about this particular entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The ethereal soundtrack from critically-acclaimed composer Ramin Djawadi, and the talent of director Chloe Zhao, who also directed the Oscar-winning Nomadland, come together to produce a film that does not feel like a Marvel production in the slightest (save for a passing Easter egg). It does everything in its power to push past the conventions of previous films, while seeking to create an engaging and immersive origin story.

The Eternals, a group of cosmic superheroes nominated by the divine Celestials to care for the Earth and its people, are locked in combat with the fierce and almost animalistic Deviants. While they must protect humanity from the Deviants, they are not allowed to get involved in any human affairs. The star-studded cast includes Angelina Jolie as the stoic warrior Thena, Korean actor Ma Dong-seok as Gilgamesh, Richard Madden as Ikaris (who might be Marvel’s answer to Superman), Gemma Chan as Sersi and Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, who helped lighten the often sombre mood of the film with some much-needed comic relief.

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Oddly enough, even though this is a superhero origin story, the film has no main villain, and its slew of heroes are often morally ambiguous. The film is also a treat for history buffs, as there are plenty of time skips that show the Eternals punching their way through different time periods throughout history, from Ancient Mesopotamia to

From left, Richard Madden and Gemma Chan in a still from “Eternals”. Photo: Sophie Mutevelian/Marvel Studios/TNS

The film does get bogged down by the fact that a great deal of time is spent addressing why the Eternals chose not to intervene in the Infinity War, when the mad titan Thanos wreaked havoc upon the Earth. However, it does so in a mature and sensible manner that integrates it well into the plot and shows that it fits well in the MCU. The film is incredibly self-aware of this plot hole and turns it into a strength, posing questions about morality and the inner conflict within the Eternals themselves, who are forced to choose between duty and desire.

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All this happens among a backdrop of some of the most surreal and truly beautiful sequences a Marvel movie can offer. The sheer scale of the threat our heroes face is often brought to attention, and the film immerses you in the action of an ever-expanding universe while reminding you just how insignificant you are as a viewer.

Eternals is now playing in cinemas in Hong Kong.

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