Why 'Eternals' Was The Worst-Reviewed Marvel Film
Where were you when you first heard that Eternals had become the worst reviewed MCU movie of all time? Personally, when I saw that 48% Rotten Tomatoes score, I couldn't help but think to myself, "Wow, these bitches are tripping," mostly because I had just rewatched Iron Man 2 just to laugh at it. And that was before I actually watched Eternals. When I finally got the chance to see it, I walked out of that theater a few hours later, really convinced those bitches were tripping because Eternals is a surprisingly gorgeous delight.
It takes a large step away from everything going on in the MCU and focuses on a group of immortal humanoid aliens who landed on Earth during prehistoric times with orders from their Celestial god to kill off a bunch of vicious creatures called Deviants who've found their way on Earth. We watch them fight together, laugh together, love together, and grow as a family for millions of years, all while humanity develops around them, separate for a few centuries, and then reunite in present-day Earth to fight a new cosmic threat.
The acting is incredible, the visuals are stunning, you get emotionally invested surprisingly fast, and that bad Rotten Tomatoes score makes absolutely no damn sense. In fact, I was so befuddled by all the bad press that I went home and made a list of MCU movies that I knew were worse than the movie I had just watched, just to remind myself I wasn't crazy:
The Incredible Hulk. I'd really like to know what kind of favors Edward Norton called in to get himself cast as the lead because holy hell, did he not belong in this movie. We can talk about the bad writing and lazy character development for days but truly, having to watch Edward Norton try to sell himself as Bruce Banner is downright cruel.
Iron Man 2. A Republican wet dream. Guns, money, and objectified women. Not even Robert Downey Jr.'s charm can let me forget his "I want one" moment re: Scarlett Johansson.
Thor: The Dark World. The only thing memorable about this movie was that Loki died but didn't actually die. That's it.
Doctor Strange. Why was the bad guy a bad guy? Why was the Ancient One a white woman? Why did Baron Mordo lose his goddamn mind at the end just because Strange used unorthodox methods to save the world?
Age of Ultron. Not only did we have to watch Joss Whedon write a little wish fulfillment fanfiction by forcing Banner and Romanoff together, watching the only female Avenger call herself a monster because she physically couldn't have children was jaw-dropping.
I want to point out that (other than Iron Man 2) it's not even that I find these movies that bad. I've always found the sacrifice Dr. Strange made to beat Dormammu to be one of the most satisfying conclusions to any character arc in the MCU, and that time-reversal fight scene is undeniably sick. It's just that they're obviously not as good as Eternals, a movie I enjoyed so much that I actually paid money to see it again a few days later.
So what the hell happened? My theory is that what's behind this is a toxic little cocktail of racism and elitism. Basically, the "Eternals is too different from other MCU movies" people are inadvertently teaming up with the "Eternals isn't different enough from other MCU movies" people to slander a movie that really doesn't deserve it.
In Group One, we have our standard Comicsgate sexually frustrated weirdos who don't think anyone born without a cream-colored penis should headline a movie. Eternals became one of the most diverse movies in the MCU by race-bending and gender-bending most of the original comic book characters and making the lead protagonist an Asian female superhero with no martial arts abilities or blue-colored hair, so obviously, nothing about this film makes any sense to them, and its very existence fills them with rage. I mean, a deaf Black female speedster? Obvious woke nonsense. Everyone knows the only believable speedsters are sarcastic white dudes who have questionable relationships with their sisters.
In Group Two, we have our "Scorsese was right" crowd, who thinks the movie was still too formulaic. It was big news when Chloe Zhao was chosen to direct this movie because she'd be the first Oscar-winning director to helm an MCU film. To a lot of critics, this was the biggest chance we'd get to a Marvel movie that colored outside the lines and wasn't just about superheroes punching their way out of trouble. The expectations for her to elevate the genre were high, and even though she broke a lot of ground, they still don't think Eternals delivered on that promise and that she basically sold out.
Talk about a no-win situation. That incel/snob combination resulted in ridiculously bad publicity for a movie that absolutely did not deserve it. Eternals isn't a perfect film; it's too long and not paced very well, we saw too much of some characters and not enough of others, and it still doesn't convincingly answer the "Where were you MFers when Thanos pulled up?" question.
But worst MCU movie of all time?? The same studio that made me sit through a movie that pretended Edward Norton could believably play a broodingly inconspicuous factory worker without looking like a sickly 10-year-old boy playing in a sandbox wearing his dad's work clothes? I think y'all can cut Eternals some slack.
Archie legit might go see Eternals again just for the hell of it. You can chat with her about it on Twitter.
Top image: Marvel Studios