Eternals, the much-anticipated 25th entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe directed by Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao, comes out next week. Its diverse cast of characters includes Marvel’s first gay superhero (who is kind of a war criminal who indirectly causes the bombing of Hiroshima), its first deaf superhero (it’s one of her powers, that’s cool), and its first South Asian superhero (who, according to early spoilers, dies). The film has made headlines for Zhao’s insistence on both shooting in real locations, as opposed to soundstages, and including a “beautiful” sex scene.
Based on the breathless coverage of the film’s stars and the various premieres at which they’ve been appearing, you’d think that this was going to be the biggest, most important film of all time. “Next Big Thing: ‘Eternals’ Star Lauren Ridloff on Becoming Marvel’s First Deaf Superhero,” proclaimed a Hollywood Reporter headline. “Angelina Jolie Has a Goddess Moment in Archive Valentino,” Vogue breathlessly declared. “The man in the Marvel suit confronts his body,” read the headline for Vulture’s troubling profile of a transformed Kumail Nanjiani. “Gemma Chan Wore A Sparkly Cropped Hoodie To The UK ‘Eternals’ Premiere Last Night, And I Can't Stop Looking At It,” a BuzzFeed contributer wrote, though we would argue that the look is very Reputation-era Taylor Swift.
Despite all of that, the film is now making headlines for a different reason. It sucks.
- “Eternals, Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao’s first major studio film, is two hours and thirty-seven minutes long — some of the longest two hours and thirty-seven minutes I’ve spent in a theater.” – Cassie Da Costa, Vanity Fair
- “One of the weakest Marvel movies I’ve seen, meandering and wan. It takes place over a vast timespan in locations all over the globe (and the galaxy), yet it has the curiously claustrophobic feel of a Saturday afternoon serial filmed entirely in a windowless studio.” – Dana Stevens, Slate
- “Eternals is good at telling us where to look, at impressing us with its manufactured sense of grandeur. What it lacks is any credible sense of what’s actually worth seeing.” – K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone
Woof. Despite the best efforts of the Marvel PR machine, no amount of star-power or ogling at Nanjiani’s physical transformation could warm critics to this flick. How it will do at the box office is yet to be seen — it hits theaters November 5 — but currently it seems like we’re looking at dead on arrival status for this one. At least Peter Travers liked it.