Eternals soars with diverse cast and new spins on Marvel formulas

By MARISSA KRASNY
On November 8, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Flickr

If you’re an early Generation Z person like myself, Marvel movies have cemented themselves as a part of your childhood. Whether you’re a relentless watcher or a casual viewer, you’ve witnessed Marvel grow alongside you. However, within a cycle of growth there will be change.

Marvel’s latest installment “Eternals” pursues elements never seen before in their franchise. And as you well know, some people do not respond well to change. 

“Eternals” follows the 10 Eternals, warriors sent to planets to help humanity develop and protect them from the Deviants, beasts that feed on intelligent life. When a threat long thought to be dead returns and starts hunting the Eternals, the group must reunite once again to defeat it. 

“Eternals” decides to take some of the base tenets of what makes a Marvel movie and uses them in whole new ways. The experience of watching “Eternals” feels like watching a Marvel movie through a different lens, which I found to be very interesting and enjoyable. 

Director Chloe Zhao certainly made a beautiful film, no doubt. This film feels more artistically sound than any past Marvel movie I can recall. The CGI used to animate the Eternals' powers incorporates a very natural and harmonious design quality.

The artistry posed no problems when paired with an action-based comic book story. My one note about where the styles did not mesh well was on two occasions when flashbacks occurred during action scenes.

Another beautiful aspect of the movie was the increasing diversity of our Eternal protagonists. Of the 10 Eternals, six are people of color, and Marvel also introduced its first gay superhero with Phastos — played by Bryan Tyree Henry —  while giving him not only a husband and child, but also an onscreen kiss with his spouse.

Marvel also introduced its first Deaf superhero with Makkari, played by Deaf actress Lauren Ridloff. This resonated deeply with me, especially in Makkari's arc.

When I learned that we would see a Deaf superhero using sign language onscreen and taking villains down, I knew I had to see this movie. It can be hard to find representation for Deaf/Hard of Hearing people like myself, and I loved finding it in a superhero movie.

Seeing Makkari signing with her fellow superheroes was truly heartwarming and reinforced the notion that Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals are able to accomplish anything our hearing counterparts could. “Eternals” shows that this holds true even amongst superheroes. 

In the vein of advancements in Deaf representation, AMC Theaters has announced that they will be adding open-captioned film screenings at 240 of their locations, according to NPR. Open-captioned screenings allow for films to have subtitles throughout the movie, and is a massive step forward in making movies accessible to everyone.

The “Eternals” characters are central to the movie's stories, but with the sheer amount of them it was hard to give all of them the equal attention they deserve. I truly did feel interested in all of them, but I wanted to learn so much more about some of the lesser explored ones. Luckily, Marvel does have the opportunity to explore them more with potential sequels or Disney+ television spinoffs.

All in all, Marvel’s “Eternals” is a visually stunning and fresh break from the Marvel formula and demonstrates a new willingness to embrace change. The "Eternals" provide a strong new addition to the Marvel cinematic universe, and the issue of fleshing out the Eternals themselves can be done in future Marvel projects. 

 

4 / 5 Stars

 

mkrasny@ramapo.edu

 

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