Native Viewpoint review: The Eternals

New Marvel characters, new storylines and some interesting and timely connections to the Marvel Universe

Unlike some of the world since the beginning of Covid’s ugly head, I have still resisted going to the movie theaters to watch the most current and theatrically released movies. Thus, I haven’t seen The Eternals until its release on Disney plus.

Though some of the initial reviews were critical, I saw a recent headline in which the reviewer said he or she actually liked it better on demand than in the theaters, so there is that.

I’ll say one thing having just watched it on Disney plus. Due to the increasing complexities of the Marvel Universe and the plethora of hero names and more, I did enjoy the process of watching this film, as I was able to stop at the introduction of each new name and subsequent superpowers. 

As I watched the film, I would pause, take notes and make a mental note of each new person. Doing so, I found myself less confused, more invested in the storyline and thus, I was able to follow the entire storyline much more closely. I really enjoyed doing it this way and I admittedly am going to continue to do so.  

Does anyone else watch Marvel movies (or any complex movies) this way? Or am I just a super nerd? Let me know in the comments below.

I enjoyed The Eternals quite a bit, and though my all-time favorite is still Avengers: Endgame, there were a lot of great new content themes and storylines I am interested to see develop as the Marvel Universe continues to unfold in all of its wild ways.

Marvel’s The Eternals movie poster (Marvel Studios)

Here is my score, summation, consensus or non-consensus with other Rotten Tomatoes critics and even a few predictions:

In my reviews, I give my score from 0 to 10 on a one point decimal scale. I feel I can be the most fair that way. As a film lover, I don’t give a lot of terrible reviews, because I appreciate the work that goes into them so much. That said, there are a few over the years that have garnered a “Rotten” on my Rotten Tomatoes critic page.

Native Viewpoint Score: The Eternals 9.2/10

My one sentence summation:

An interesting storyline in the Marvel Universe that in my opinion, proves how the status quo just might miss the most impactful reason comic books existed in the first place. In my view, comic readers will likely appreciate this movie more.

Plot summary: 

The Eternals, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years, reunite to battle the evil Deviants.

My review:

So off we go to the races with the latest Marvel cinematic treasure, The Eternals. 

This is an entirely new world for me, as I am sure it is for any Marvel movie lover that hasn’t read The Eternals comic books. I never did. But I am interested to go back and look into some of them. 

So in pretty quick fashion, we are introduced to the team of Eternals, Ikaris (Richard Madden) who can fly and shoot lasers from his eyes, Sersi (Gemma Chan) who controls the elements of objects, the leader Ajak (Salma Mayek) who can communicate with the god-like celestial Arishem, Sprite (Lia McHugh) a creator of life-like images, Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) the inventor, Thena (Angelina Jolie) a warrior and creator of weaponry, Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok) who has great strength, Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) a deaf Eternal with vibration sensitivity and super speed, Druig (Barry Keoghan) who has mind control, and Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) who controls balls of energy. 

An appreciative shout to Harish Patel as Kingo’s valet and assistant Karun, who provides some truly delightful banter traded with Nanjiani. In fact Nanjiani’s antics throughout the film, caused me to laugh out loud quite a few times. 

Nanjiani is one of my favorite actors today, his comedy is refreshing and a lot of fun.

One nice thing to me about The Eternals is that there wasn’t any real dead time. Even the less action-packed moments of the film were filled with relevant information that was also mind-capturing. Wait a minute, were you controlling my mind to enjoy this film Druig? 

The main points of conflict in the film were the interactions between Sersi and Arishem, the god-like being who decides whether a planet lives or dies. This makes me wonder out loud, is there some relation to Galactus here? For those of you who don’t know, Galactus was a literal eater of planets in the Marvel Universe, or in this case, should I say universes?

The fighting between the The Eternals and the deviants, aka Apex hunters aka human eaters, was complex and satisfying. I rarely knew who may or may not win any particular fight, which is nice to experience. 

I liked all of the actors in this film. They all did exceptional jobs as their heroic characters. I do want to commend Kumail Nanjiani for his hilarity as Kingo, the multi-generational Bollywood actor — whose love for his own image on film gave me persistent reasons to laugh and smile. 

I also appreciated Ma Dong-seok as Gilgamesh, the Eternal with exceptional strength, who was unafraid to show his vulnerable side, much in the same way the mighty Thor might show that his feelings are hurt at a mean comment about his weight. 

I really enjoyed the film. My all-time favorite movie moment? I have to say the interaction between Kingo and Druig, when Kingo said that he was also a director of online content, who “doesn’t do it for the views,” had me rolling on the floor. 

My agreement or disagreement with other Rotten Tomatoes critics: I disagree with over half of the critics

The Eternals score on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics gave it a 47% so far, though audience critics were a bit nicer with 78% at the time of my review. (Screen capture, Rotten Tomatoes)

At the time of my review, The Eternals has a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes

I understand why, even though I really enjoyed the film. In the movie world, people want action packed sequences, eye-watering special effects and mind-blowing explosions. Today’s audiences likely tire out from emotional bonding, love affairs and mindful eternal struggles. But the emotional connections between Sersi and Icarus (including a kiss from the past) were truly heartfelt and believable due to exceptional cinematic chemistry between the two.

Overall, I disagree with the score of 43% on Rotten Tomatoes, so allow me to explain. 

The Eternals, in my view, is showing to the world why comic books were not for everyone. As a young kid living in my own world, going to Geoffrey’s Comics in Gardena, a few blocks from Compton Blvd. I went into the store each week with my allowance, eagerly looking for each new month’s treasure — delivered to the overly-crowded comic book shelves. I interacted with other kids who were also disregarded, ignored, bullied or told they were not allowed to hang out with the other kids.

I even joined the comic book fan club at the store, excited to talk about comic books. 

Comic books were my refuge. I fantasized every day about being able to jump from tall buildings, shoot webs from my web shooters, read the minds of my enemies, cut through walls with adamantium claws or walk through walls. 

I don’t think a lot of other kids at my school did this. I was part of the minority population of kids. I was unpopular. I was not part of the status quo.

Movies were different. Everyone I know has gone to the movies for their entire lifetimes. So what happens when there is a combination of efforts? What happens when the mindset of the moviegoer tries to combine with the mindset of a comic book nerd? There is a battle of mindsets. These mindsets often do not agree with each other.

I think this is one of the main reasons The Eternals got criticized so harshly by film reviewers. 

I remember reading The Uncanny X-Men as a kid. As I write this now, I can feel the quiet solitude of these memories overwhelm me in the most comforting ways. I can hear the quiet pages turning, smell the comic newsprint paper, and I can see the ads for Mr. Atlas, funny posters, or joke gum and smoke from your fingers magic tricks. I even ordered a few of these items over the years.

I remember the characters in the X-Men by name, Kurt Wagner as Nightcrawler, Jean Grey as Phoenix, Charles Xavier as the professor with the world’s strongest psychic mind, Kitty Pryde and Logan as Wolverine.

As much as I loved that they were all mutants, with incredible super powers, I also loved the personal struggles they had as mutants. Logan had super healing, thus his body attacked the alcohol he drank, and he could never seem to drink enough to become intoxicated. Kitty thought of Logan as a brother, and fought with him to be treated as an adult. Logan also loved Jean Grey as well as the beloved Japanese royal Mariko.  

There was so much emotional complexity, as well as there were lasers shooting from the eyes of another team member Cyclops. 

I have never read the Eternals comics as a kid, but I’d not be surprised to find this type of complexities within the pages. 

Movie audiences don’t want emotional struggles in their Marvel movies to the extent that comic enthusiasts do. It is not an easy thing to do for Kevin Fiege, it has to be a heck of a hard job. 

My Marvel Universe predictions

Before I leave you all — and thank you so much for reading my reviews as always — I have a few completely unsubstantiated predictions that bear no proof to what might actually happen.

That said, here we go:

Makkari and Echo will meet

During The Eternals, Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff, who you might recognize from The Walking Dead, uses American sign language quite often. If you haven’t yet watched Hawkeye on Disney plus, both Clint Barton/Hawkeye and Maya Lopez/Echo also both use sign language.

I predict that Makkari and Echo will be teaming up. Perhaps Hawkeye might even make an appearance. I don’t know to what extent, but I do think this will happen.

There will be a connection with Galactus and Arishem

Galactus and Arishem will eventually interact, or heck, maybe they are even the same entity. I don’t really know, but I just assert there will be some connection. They both have watched planets get destroyed, so some connection will surface.

Dane Whitman will show some connection to Iron Man or Stark Industries

Sersi is dating Dane Whitman at the beginning of The Eternals. For those of you who don’t know the name, Whitman is the secret identity of the Black Knight, a man who inherits an evil and cursed sword giving him the powers of the Black Knight. 

During the movie, Sersi asks him about a relative, and I suspect (with zero proof) that there is a connection there. 

Starfox has a connection to Secret Wars

Again, I have zero proof. But the introduction of Thanos’ brother Starfox, just gives me a bit of pause to question and wonder how marvel might introduce Secret Wars, the biggest Marvel series and most all-inclusive series ever to hit the Marvel Universe. 

Have a wonderful day everyone, and thank you for reading.