A common criticism I have heard of the latest film in the MCU, Eternals, is that it would have worked better as a series.
Well, after watching the film, I can wholeheartedly say that I agree with this sentiment.
Directed by Chloé Zhao, the film follows the titular Eternals, immortal superpowered beings, created by the Celestial Arishem to defend earth from monsters known as the Deviants.
They consist of Sersi (Gemma Chan), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Druig (Barry Keoghan), Thena (Angelena Jolie), Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Makarri (Lauren Ridloff), and Ajak (Salma Hayak).
Yes, that is 10 Eternals you have to keep track of.
This would not be a problem if Eternals was like an Avengers movie, with each of the Eternals having their own solo film, so you knew who they were when they came together for this film.
It would also not be a problem if, as much of the criticism has stated, Eternals was a show instead.
But Eternals is neither of these things.
This is a two and half hour movie that introduces ten super heroes in quick succession and expects us to care about all of them, even when some of them have zero character development.
The worst example of this is Ridloff’s Makkari.
We know exactly three things about her character, she’s deaf, she has super speed, and sort of has a thing going on with Druig.
There is nothing else to her as a character because the film just does not focus on her because it spends time trying to make you care about the other Eternals, most of which do not have the proper screen time to make us care about them either.
To be fair, there are a few of the Eternals I did come to care about, like Phastos, Druig and Thena.
However, even though I did like them, this was nowhere near the amount of care that it could have been because, again, there were too many characters to focus on.
If they were so deadset on Eternals being a movie then they should have cut back on the characters, so they could get enough development that we as the audience would care about all of them.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the characters that suffer in this movie but also the plot, with numerous side stories just not fitting in.
The biggest of these is the Deviant storyline, which starts off important but, by the end, I wondered why it was still even a part of the narrative.
Then there’s Kit Harrington’s role, which is more of a teaser for future MCU films than anything else.
My final criticism is that there’s parts of this movie that were unintentionally funny.
I remember one point in the film when a background character said something so deadpan, only to die immediately after saying it, and this made me burst into laughter, which was certainly not the reaction Zhao wanted.
Although, I will say that while there are some bits that are unintentionally funny, there’s also some bits of good intentional humor as well, mostly with Kugo and his valet, Karun (Harish Patel).
Along with this, I did like some of the twists and turns the story took.
The acting across the board was also pretty good.
There was a lot of potential with Eternals.
It’s just that this potential was crushed under the weight of what felt like a street performer juggling too many characters and plot points.
Eternals would have been better as a series.
If it had been one, it would have given enough time for all of the characters to be properly developed, side stories could be fleshed out without feeling pointless, and it might have just worked out into a cohesive narrative.
Instead, what we got was easily one of the MCU’s weakest films.
Hopefully, future Eternals films will improve on this.