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'Eternals' is not your average Marvel movie, and your enjoyment depends on how you like your MCU

Lia McHugh, Barry Keoghan, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Gemma Chan and Richard Madden in 'Eternals'. Picture: Marvel Studios

Lia McHugh, Barry Keoghan, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Gemma Chan and Richard Madden in 'Eternals'. Picture: Marvel Studios

Published Nov 1, 2021

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Marvel’s 'Eternals', directed by Chloé Zhao, has unexpectedly become a hot topic with the reviews around the film positioning it to be one of the most divisive and polarising entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Talks of its divisiveness arose since its premiere and the movie’s score on Rotten Tomatoes had recently dipped to 59%, making it the first ever MCU film to have a “Rotten” score on the review website.

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'Eternals' is currently at 60% with a total of 119 reviews, making it the lowest-rated film in the history of the MCU.

While the movie only comes out on November 5, talk around it and how good it is will only increase in coming days.

After having seen the movie myself, I have found the discussion around it to be extremely fascinating. 'Eternals' is not the MCU movie you are likely expecting and honestly that is one of the reasons I enjoyed it.

I'm surprised by how thoroughly I enjoyed 'Eternals' because the discussion around it was impacting my expectations. It is, aside from being visually stunning, an endearing family drama with moments of action.

'Eternals' is not your typical MCU movie and I'm so relieved by that.

It's a bold step and I'm impressed by Marvel's attempt to swing for the fences. The MCU has become known for its formula, and 'Eternals' – the 26th entry in this universe – definitely sticks outside of the mould.

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By no means does it break the formula but it doesn't deliver on what the MCU is typically known for: the constant humour and punchy one-liners, the pulse-racing action scenes and plethora of Easter eggs.

We're 20-something movies into the MCU and while the traditional hero-origin movies are fun, they have all followed the typical formula.

A formula where we are introduced to our out-of-place hero, followed by their hero-making setback where they are forced to dig deep and overcome. They are either gifted their superhero skills/abilities or harnessed them, while eventually going on to face off against a villain with the same power as them.

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There is a mould and it has become repetitive. There are minor differences between each but many of their origin movies fit the mould.

'Eternals', I'm glad to say, stands out. It delivered something unexpected and I'm appreciative of it.

The movie introduces us to 10 new heroes who are all part of this family of eternal beings sent to help Earth develop. They watch on through history as humanity and technology evolve, yet they're the constant.

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Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Ma Dong-seok, Brian Tyree Henry, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, and Lia McHugh in 'Eternals'. Picture: Marvel Studios

'Eternals' from its story alone was destined to be different because we get this complicated family at the centre. Instead of the typical hero origin, we get a family drama spanning thousands of years.

It’s a family drama also balancing the origins of the Marvel world and how the heroes we have come to know over 20-something movies fit into this world.

This movie has such a large scope and covers so much, but it does so by opting to focus on this family and not one single adventure that shows us how they have come together to defeat this one mega-evil.

Chloé Zhao instead gives us a family drama with moments of action that explain how this family relates to each other and what they're skilled at.

The movie is also intentional about giving us character moments and presenting us with a slower-paced MCU movie than what most are accustomed to.

Characters talk, debate and argue instead of always using their hands to fight – and not everyone wants to see that.

Marvel already gave “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Black Widow” to tick all the boxes in the MCU formula.

Both gave devoted Marvel-lovers everything they would want from an MCU movie, while also expanding on their respective elements of the MCU.

'Eternals' is not a perfect film and it's not even my favourite MCU film but I really love this movie because it does something different.

I have been pontificating on whether my reaction to it was affected by my knowledge that first reactions from reviewers were split on the movie, or if it was impacted by the few leaks that I'd come across in the lead up to the film – and I'm not sure.

But I do think the context from which people are coming towards the movie will affect how they feel about it. I'm not here to dispel or discredit any people who feel like the movie is “the worst MCU movie ever” or “Marvel's first dud”.

People feel how they feel (though I remain unsure how some can call it the first dud when “Thor: The Dark World” and “Black Widow” exist, but I digress).

I feel the film will divide people – either as a mental experience or as one they emotionally resonate with. There will be those who relate more emotionally to it, and those who relate more intellectually to it, and those who feel neither of those are strong enough to make them enjoy the movie.

Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Ma Dong-seok, Brian Tyree Henry, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, and Lia McHugh in 'Eternals'. Picture: Marvel Studios

'Eternals' is bold, and my personal context allowed me to enjoy this movie in a way I was surprised by, as I went in expecting not to enjoy it.

Marvel delivered a film that is not perfect but is an ambitious and bold step in a new direction for the MCU.

If this is the first experimental swing, then I'm excited to see what other unexpected decisions and movies are ahead for the MCU.

Eternals stars: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie

Rating: 8/10

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Marvel

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