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Eternals Reviews Are In, See What Critics Are Saying About The MCU Film

Richard Madden and Gemma Chan in Eternals
(Image credit: Disney)

We’re in the final lead-up to Marvel Studios’ Eternals, and the fans’ anticipation for the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe only seems to be growing. Based on what we’ve seen thus far, the movie seems to be aiming to change what audiences know about the MCU. The movie is helmed by Oscar winner Chloé Zhao, who has shared a bit of how she wanted to approach the titular cosmic beings. Now, the review embargo for the film has officially lifted, so what are critics saying about it?

It was clear from the jump that this was primed to be one of Marvel Studios’ most ambitious cinematic endeavors. With this, many critics have made note of the film’s grand scale, lengthy narrative and plethora of main characters, though it sounds like this sometimes worked against it. Nevertheless, IGN’s Amelia Emberwing thinks Chloé Zhao and Marvel mostly succeeded: 

The relationships of these complicated characters keep things as fresh as they can, but the story gets unwieldy when it shifts into a cosmic scale. Had it kept the narrative closer to home, it would have played better as a standalone film, but it wouldn’t have felt like the grand Eternals introduction into the MCU had that been the case.

CinemaBlend's own Eric Eisenberg was also mostly positive on the latest feature to come out of the mighty machine that is Marvel. However, he too believes that it has a lot to juggle:

More than three years after Chloe Zhao’s hiring, “ambitious” remains an appropriate adjective to apply to Eternals, albeit with a caveat. The film has impressive scope, compelling characters, and some fascinating driving philosophies, but it’s an adventure that also attempts to bite off a bit more than it can chew.

However, some critics believe that Eternals bites off more than it can chew. Joshua Rivera of Polygon acknowledged that the Nomadland filmmaker was attempting to steer clear of Marvel’s usual storytelling habits, yet he also mentioned that the movie still gets too familiar, leading to a final product that’s relatively uneven:

Films that wrestle with difficult experiences can often be difficult to watch, and intentionally so. Unfortunately, Eternals isn’t bold, merely incongruous. The simpler explanation is truer: Eternals is a mess.

Eternals centers on a group of ancient, cosmic beings who have walked the earth for thousands of years yet have refrained from interfering in human events. However, the group is forced to reunite in the present day against their villainous counterparts, the Deviants. Along the way, the movie also seeks to answer philosophical questions about life and purpose. Brian Lowry of CNN could recognize what the film seems to be aiming for but, ultimately, believes it moves to slowly and could potentially alienate a key audience demographic:

‘Eternals’ simply takes too long getting to the good stuff, and its more cerebral and adult elements -- including a grand romance -- could harbor less appeal among kids, a not-inconsequential demo, than most recent Marvel titles.

The movie certainly seems to cover a lot of ground, especially since it stands at two hours and forty-seven minutes. USA Today critic Brian Truitt seems to agree with those who find the film to be overstuffed, even though he does believe that Chloé Zhao succeeded in pushing the MCU forward and bringing some visual flair to the proceedings:

Zhao understands the larger assignment, as the epic sets the stage for future MCU intrigue. Her attention to detail and eye for design does wonders, even if by the end it all feels like an eternal chore.

If anything, the movie does seem to mostly succeed when it comes to its main heroes. THR’s David Rooney seemed to appreciate their dynamics, and the director’s efforts in giving them meaningful moments, even if they sometimes appear to be at war with the narrative:

The attention to character, group dynamics and emotional texture makes the film often feel more alive in its quieter moments than its fairly routine CG action clashes. But the depth of feeling helps counter the choppy storytelling in this new tangent in the MCU narrative.

All in all, it would seem that critics have mixed feelings about the latest movie in Marvel’s ever-expanding universe. Of course, at the end of the day, you can make up your own mind about the cosmic feature. You can do so when Eternals lands in theaters on November 5.

Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.