In an age where superhero movies are churned out at an industrial rate, it’s a breath of fresh air when a movie in this genre gives you something new.
Eternals follows a family of superheroes sent to earth to protect humans from predators known as the Deviants. The film explores how and why they came to Earth 7000 years ago, as well as the necessity for teaming up once again to save the day.
Chloe Zhao, who won an Academy Award for Directing Nomadland, is an inspired choice to direct this intimately beautiful story about a dysfunctional family that learns what it means to be human. After all, her indie darlings have all been humanity and character-driven pieces.
Eternals is beautifully balanced by showcasing the relationship between these characters, whether it is the on-and-of, century-spanning relationship between Gemma Chan’s lead, Sersi, and her beloved Ikaris (Richard Madden). Or even the platonic love between the broken and suffering Thena (Angelina Jolie) and her hardy protector Gilgamesh (Don Lee).
The film introduces 10 new characters to the ever-expanding Marvel universe. Somehow, it manages to equally display all their relationships and powers, giving them much more nuanced and complex interactions than other Marvel films that focus on single characters.
Zhao was also brought on board to give the visual Marvel universe a kick up the backside.
Fans of the franchise are all too accustomed to the green screen backgrounds Iron Man is often seen flying on, and it is clear the actors are most often interacting with nothing but a tennis ball. Eternals changes this, giving life to every scene – most were shot in beautiful locations, allowing the action and visual effects to be steeped in reality.
I highly recommend seeing this film in IMAX, as the visual effects and the scope of this picture alone is something to behold. There are genuine jaw-dropping scenes that are clearly made for the biggest screen possible.
The entire diverse ensemble work to build the story within the film, with Chan and Madden proving to be solid leads as part of a complex relationship. Similarly, Lee and Jolie are standouts, providing a contrasting warm and heartfelt storyline. Die-hard superhero fans will also want to stick around for the two credits scenes.
This film will not be for everyone. It is patiently paced, allowing every character to have their moment, while dealing with the kind of mature themes that most superhero movies refuse to touch.
This is not your typical mindless action flick. Marvel, in collaboration with Zhao, have made the first indie-feeling superhero movie that is a brilliant blend of incredible spectacle and deep themes on what it means to truly be human.
I hope this is only the beginning of Marvel’s new experimental phase, and that there are more risks and exciting filmmakers to come. They have proven they are able to create not just a generic superhero film, but character-driven pieces that change the landscape of this oversaturated genre.