Is Marvel’s Eternals OK For Kids?
Marvel's latest, Eternals, is out now and it's different than most of the other MCU movies.
The following contains minor (non-plot related) spoilers for Eternals.
Marvel’s newest blockbuster is here and for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Eternals will be something new. While the movie has been getting more middling reviews than most of Marvel Studios’ output, fans of superhero movies are still likely at least going to want to check out Eternals, and that’s going to include kids.
Is Eternals suitable for kids? That is, of course, a broad question. As in all cases, it depends on the kid, and what their parents find acceptable to show them. For older kids Marvel movies are probably seen as OK, and there are certainly some younger kids who have seen every one of them too. What’s needed to make that decision ultimately is an informed adult who knows what they’re getting into. Even if you’re a parent that has been generally fine with their kids watching Marvel movies, there are, at least potentially, reasons Eternals might be a different situation.
Eternals Does Feature A Marvel Sex Scene
When it comes to the things that parents tend to find objectionable in movies, they can be often summarized in three different categories, language, sex, and violence. If you’ve seen any Marvel Studios production you know what most of them are like when it comes to language and violence, and for the most part Eternals falls in line with those entries. There is some adult language here, but nothing that challenges the movie’s PG-13 rating. The violence is full of CGI particle effects, and is mostly bloodless. But when it comes to sex in the MCU, well, it’s been largely nonexistent.
Back in the original Iron Man, there’s a scene where Tony Stark takes a woman to bed. They make out for a while while they try to remove each other’s clothing, but the camera cuts away before they really get anywhere. We see the back of a naked woman in the aftermath the next morning. But since then Marvel has been largely sexless. While there’s the occasional joke using sexual innuendo, nobody actually has sex in these movies.
But Eternals is different. A big part of the movie is dedicated to the romantic relationship between two characters, Sersi and Ikarus, and we truly see that relationship grow over the course of the film, including a brief scene where the two are clearly having sex. We only see their bodies from about shoulder level up, but they are not wearing their costumes and Ikarus is on top of Sersi. It’s not a graphic scene by any means, and it only lasts a few seconds, but it’s there and there's no question what is happening. It's the most intimate we’ve ever seen two Marvel characters get on screen.
The Deviants Are Scarier Than Your Average Villain
Another way that Eternals is a bit different than your normal Marvel movie is that it doesn’t really have a villain in the traditional sense. However, there are still monsters for the good guys to fight. They’re called Deviants and they are black quadruped creatures that might make the smallest audience members cover their eyes.
The Deviants are largely just wild animals, they growl and scream, but they’re also aliens, so they have masses of teeth and claws and various other unnatural elements they use to attack people. They mostly just attempt to kill whoever they come across, and while the violence is PG-13 and largely bloodless, they do succeed in killing a few people on screen.
It's... Long. It's Really Long.
This is a note very specific to parents of younger kids, but if your kid is the kind who has trouble sitting still to watch a movie, regardless of the movie, then Eternals might not be the best choice for a theatrical experience. At two hours and 40 minutes, Eternals is just a long movie.
At this point we’re used to seeing Marvel movies run over two hours in length, and Avengers: Endgame cracked the three hour mark; however, Eternals is still quite different than even that, because those other Marvel movies tend to have more action in their runtime than Eternals does.
That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of superhero action in Eternals, there is, but as a portion of the run time it feels like Eternals has less overall. A lot of the runtime is dedicated to simple character interaction. There are 10 heroes in this movie and so there are a lot of conversations to be had.
It's Dense With Lore
Eternals is a long movie, yes, but that’s only half of it. Even at over two and a half hours it’s difficult to argue that the movie is too long, because there is, without question, a lot of story to tell inside that run time. The Eternals are characters we’ve never met before in the MCU, and so we need to learn who they are, where they came from, and why any of this is important, and that story is… a lot.
The Eternals are quite possibly the weirdest Marvel Comics characters to make the jump to the big screen, and it’s actually more than surprising just how much of their bonkers backstory makes it into the MCU, but Eternals is a pretty dense movie. The movie ultimately has to stop at one point and just explain the core of its plot in one massive chunk.
Adults would probably be forgiven for tuning out at some point, and one can imagine some kids doing the same. It’s a lot of expository dialogue and it might simply be tough for some kids (and even some adults) to follow what’s going on, and since the rest of the movie is dependent on everything you learn, it might mean some just give up.
The story is told in a non-linear fashion, with multiple flashbacks to different time periods filling out the characters' backstory throughout.
All kids are different, so whether any of these issues are necessarily deal breakers is very dependent on the individual. For some it may be, for others not so much. But now you have an idea of what’s going on with Marvel’s Eternals and you can make that judgement yourself.
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