Movie Review: Marvels’ ‘Eternals’ poses questions about the purpose of humanity

Marvel’s newest release, Eternals, introduces 10 new superheroes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and asks the audience to consider the question – what is the purpose of humanity?


Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

What is the purpose of humanity? Why are we here, and do we deserve to be? Many movies explore these questions, however, these concepts are a first for Marvel Studios, tackling the matter in their newest release, Eternals.

Eternals, released on Nov 4, was directed by Chloé Zhao, also one of the film’s four writers. The movie features 10 superheroes called the Eternals, never before seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

The Eternals are sent to Earth from their planet, Olympia, to defeat monsters called Deviants and save humankind. 7,000 years later, they’re still waiting for their leader Arishem, who is head of a group called the Celestials, to let them return to their home planet.

Eventually, the Eternals must decide who is really their leader, and what is really their purpose. The film discusses what it means to be human and asks if humans deserve saving, which is new territory for the depth of Marvel movies. 

Conflict arises in the group as they struggle to weigh the strengths and flaws of humans. With this comes another issue, as individual characters determine their own ethical opinion and learn they may not all be on the same side.

For Marvel fans, a classic theme is the reappearance of beloved characters throughout several movies – so with 10 characters brand new to the audience, the film did feel a bit overwhelming at points. 

Related: ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ steals the hearts of Marvel fans.

With so much content and virtually no time for character development, I would argue that the storyline could have stretched over two movies and been more effective. 

This being said, I appreciated new types of powers that were introduced, including the ability to change the genetic makeup of things, advanced knowledge of technology, and even the powers of the character Ikarus (played by Richard Madden) who is essentially a Marvel version of Superman.

The Deviants, entirely built out of CGI technology, could have been better explained. Though the audience does learn about their origin, it should have been explained more thoroughly. 

One of Eternals’ strongest points is its casting job, which boasts a wide range of diverse actors — maybe the most diverse set of actors Marvel has ever seen. Perhaps most notably, the deaf character Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff, who is deaf in real life.

People with disabilities are rarely highlighted in films, and if they are, it tends to be about them overcoming their disability. In Eternals, Makkari was not set back by her deafness, nor was it her defining storyline.

Something that was especially interesting was the film’s subtle ties to Greek mythology, and the idea that the film’s characters – having been around for thousands of years – are the Greek gods and goddesses that are so admired by many.

Most evidently associated with Greek mythology is Angelina Jolie’s character, Thena, who is known among the Eternals for her battle skills. She is clearly based on Athena, known in Greek mythology as the goddess of war.

All in all, Eternals is far from the best film Marvel Studios has ever released. However, it introduced some important turning points for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and left fans asking the question: How does this film affect what happens next?