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How Marvel Producer Nate Moore Explains Eternals’ Lower Rotten Tomatoes Scores

Salma Hayek and the cast of Eternals
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Marvel had a momentous year in 2021. From widespread critical acclaim and blockbuster highs with WandaVision and Spider-Man: No Way Home to a seemingly non-stop onslaught of releases to keep fans occupied, the Marvel Cinematic Universe took a huge step forward into its next phase. But it also marked off one milestone that executives probably weren’t hoping for – Eternals earned the lowest Rotten Tomatoes score in MCU history. Now Nate Moore, one of the film’s producers, has offered some insight into what happened and what it all means for the future of the franchise. 

In many ways, Eternals was a gamble for the massive franchise. While it packed some serious star power, it featured a slew of new characters and explored themes that were unfamiliar to many fans. The film did well in the box office, but critical reception was mixed at best. While its audience score is fresh, at the moment, its critical score on RT is 47%. It's currently the only MCU film to be rated Rotten on that platform. 

This new milestone did not go unnoticed by the creative team at Marvel Studios. In a recent conversation on The House of Midnight podcast, Nate Moore was asked about the critical reception to and what he attributed it to: 

I think it was shocking. I think a little bit of that is expectation. Look, going out of Avengers: Endgame, everything was a bit under the microscope. This movie was intended to be the first original after Avengers, and then Covid hit and everything changed.

Black Widow’s release was delayed due to the pandemic, and production on other Marvel films was stalled, creating a domino effect in which the entire schedule for the MCU was shifted. This seems to be, in part, what Moore is referencing. But that wasn’t the only factor that led to critics’ expectations being high: 

In the meantime, Chloe Zhao won an Academy Award – wasn’t an Academy Award winner when we had her, actually hadn’t made Nomadland when we hired her. So I think the expectation of that movie started to grow, right?

Both the shifts in the schedule and the added anticipation of Eternals being directed by a newly minted Oscar winner were surely factors in how the film was received. But producer was pragmatic in his view of all the contributing elements that led to the critical blowback: 

Because Eternals didn’t have one singular source material that anybody really knew, people started to map on their fantasy version of what the movie was without really having any context of what the movie we were making was about. And then look ultimately you make something and you send it out into the world to be judged, and it’s judged.

It remains to be seen if the response to the film will change the way in which Marvel approaches films with original characters in the future – or whether the film will get a sequel that addresses unanswered questions for the fans who did enjoy it. 

Eternals is set to hit Disney+ on January 12