The main reason I liked Eternals was how much it reminded me of Star Trek. The first apparent reference is the Prime Directive, as the Eternals are only there to protect humanity from the deviants. Under Druig’s protest, they were prohibited from interfering with any war or conflict amongst the humans. Druig could easily control the minds of the entire planet, but then the question is asked, “What does it mean to be human?” Phastos regularly violates this directive by introducing new technologies for human advancement leading to the nuclear bomb. Was Hiroshima his fault?
Eternals is also very pro-human. The survival of humanity is at stake, and the gang debates whether we’re all worth saving, pointing to the events of humanity’s heroics in Avengers: End Game as the ultimate proof. This up-with-humans stance would make a fun debate “in this current climate.” I’m also intrigued by the Celestial Arishem himself. The film reveals his true purpose for Earth (involving its destruction), the need for Eternals to protect us, and the real reason the deviants are there. There is a blurring of lines and more debate about intentions, both good and evil. Each player is right from and wrong for the same reasons.
If you’ve read the comics or follow the more outer-worldly storylines with larger-than-planet characters, like Galactus, then I think you’ll appreciate Eternals and its place in the MCU. I think the problem most people will have is this kind of storyline works best on the drawn pages of comics, but not so much a film that places all the action on physical locations throughout the world. The MCU has been inching in this direction with Guardians and the origins of Thanos, as the path of those stories, and this one, point to Titan.
“…reminded me of Star Trek. The first apparent reference is the Prime Directive…”
As a film, the production values, stunts (CG and otherwise), and special effects are on par with what we expect from Marvel. In terms of Chloé Zhao’s direction, Eternals is decidedly a character-driven film taking on the premise of immortal beings finding great love and affection for humanity. Ironically, it’s the most human film about a group of non-humans. There’s a side to the superheroes we’ve not yet seen in the MCU, such, superheroes having sex on the beach. Or later, Phastos’ same-sex marriage to a human. These scenes make the characters feel more realistic. There are accusations that Eternals is Marvel’s attempt to force “wokeness” down our throats. I just don’t see it.
Acting-wise, this excellent cast of veteran actors makes comic-book dialogue palatable. In lesser hands, it would’ve come off hokey. On the other hand, there are melodramatic moments that can not be ignored, particularly a physically-exhausted Gemma Chan crawling on the ground by a giant volcano. I mean, c’mon.
Eternals is a good film, not great., and presents a different slice of the enormous MCU pie. Zhao’s most significant contribution to the film was telling a very dense story in a way that is accessible to the audience. I was never lost, and my kid complained that she was ahead of the story the entire time (she’s wrong). To me, it’s a testament to Marvel Studio’s ability to make stories from magic/mythic-based comics, like Thor and Doctor Strange, into a fun, entertaining film. It may not be perfect, but it’s still more enjoyable than Zach Snyder’s Justice League.
"…Marvel's attempt to force 'wokeness; down our throats(?) I just don't see it. "