Watch Eternals (2021), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie
The saga of the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.
Eternals is a 2021 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics race of the same name. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Chloé Zhao, who wrote the screenplay with Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, and Kaz Firpo.
It stars an ensemble cast including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie. In the film, the Eternals, immortal alien beings, emerge from hiding after thousands of years to protect Earth from their ancient counterparts, the Deviants.
In April 2018, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced that a film based on the Eternals had begun development, with Ryan and Kaz Firpo hired to write the script in May. Zhao was set to direct the film by late September, and was given significant creative freedom with the film, which resulted in filming on location more than previous MCU films.
Zhao rewrote the screenplay, to which Burleigh was later reported to have also contributed. Principal photography took place from July 2019 to February 2020, at Pinewood Studios as well as on location in London and Oxford, England, and in the Canary Islands.
Eternals premiered in Los Angeles on October 18, 2021, and was released in the United States on November 5, as part of Phase Four of the MCU. The film grossed $402 million worldwide. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised its themes and visuals, but criticized its screenplay, pacing, runtime, and character development.
Eternals (2021) Trailer
Eternals (2021) Reviews
Zhao and her fellow screenwriters Patrick Burleigh and Ryan Firpo & Kaz Firpo lurch around in time in an ungainly fashion to tell the story of a group of immortal beings living secretly on Earth. Each has his or her own specific abilities but, collectively, they share the quippy humor that’s become so typical in Marvel movies. The casting and characteristics on display here are revolutionary and, at first, cause for inspiration that we might be in for something totally different. There’s a natural diversity at work in ways we haven’t seen from the Avengers, for example.
From the leadership of Salma Hayek’s Ajak and Gemma Chan’s Sersi to Brian Tyree Henry and Haaz Sleiman as a gay couple with a young son to Lauren Ridloff’s Makkari, whose hearing impairment is her superpower—the inclusive nature of “Eternals” feels both exciting and effortless. Angelina Jolie’s Thena is a ferocious warrior who also suffers from mental illness, which the film handles sensitively. Conversely, Lia McHugh livens things up as the androgynous, forever-young Sprite.
Perhaps most striking of all, two characters have actual sex, which is unprecedented and long overdue in a cinematic world where everyone is super-hot and muscular and dressed in form-fitting costumes. The scene is brief, but it accomplishes so much to indicate a deeper and more vulnerable sense of humanity in these comic book figures.
Tony Stark and Pepper Potts probably did it. Clint Barton definitely did because he had kids. But most other romantic relationships have featured benign flirting at most, so to see these characters behaving like grown people in this manner is yet another example of the potential lurking within “Eternals.”
Chan’s Sersi, with her transmutational abilities, and Richard Madden’s Ikaris, a versatile, Superman-type figure prominently as centuries-old, on-and-off-again lovers. Charismatic as Madden is, though, Chan enjoys greater sparks with Kit Harington as her mortal, London-based boyfriend, Dane Whitman, who shares Sersi’s interest in archaeology.
Whatever emotional stakes may exist between any of these characters eventually take a back seat to flying around and zapping monsters with eye lasers. You can feel the struggle in trying to juggle it all. And the climactic action extravaganza is so glossy and cacophonous, it could have been plucked out of any number of soulless, sci-fi spectacles over the past decade, smothering all the smaller charms we’d enjoyed along the way.
A newly buff Kumail Nanjiani offers some laughs as a pompous Bollywood star, Don Lee provides a kind presence despite his hulking power, and Barry Keoghan merely has to show up to make us feel his unnerving vibe. All of these actors prove they’re up for the challenge of trying to establish complicated characters within the frenzy of the MCU machinery. Frustratingly, they—and Zhao—can only serve as cogs.
Eternals (2021) Credits
Gemma Chan as Sersi
Richard Madden as Ikaris
Angelina Jolie as Thena
Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo
Lia McHugh as Sprite
Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos
Lauren Ridloff as Makkari
Barry Keoghan as Druig
Ma Dong-Seok as Gilgamesh
Salma Hayek as Ajak
Kit Harington as Dane Whitman
Bill Skarsgård as Kro (voice)
Harish Patel as Karun
- Chloé Zhao
Writer (based on the Marvel comics by)
- Jack Kirby
Writer (story by)
- Ryan Firpo
- Kaz Firpo
- Chloé Zhao
- Patrick Burleigh
- Ryan Firpo
- Kaz Firpo
- Ben Davis
- Craig Wood
- Dylan Tichenor
- Rawin Djawadi
Eternals (2021) Plot
In 5000 BC, ten superpowered Eternals—Ajak, Sersi, Ikaris, Kingo, Sprite, Phastos, Makkari, Druig, Gilgamesh, and Thena—are sent by the Celestial Arishem to Earth on their starship, the Domo, to exterminate the invasive Deviants. The last Deviants are apparently killed in 1521, when the group’s opinions differ over their continued relationship with humankind. Over the next five hundred years they mostly live apart, waiting for Arishem’s orders.
In the present day, Sersi and Sprite live together in London. After Sersi’s partner Ikaris left her centuries earlier, she is now in a relationship with human Dane Whitman who works at the Natural History Museum. When the trio are attacked by the Deviant Kro, Ikaris arrives and chases the creature away. The three Eternals travel to South Dakota to reunite with their leader, Ajak, only to find her dead. Sersi is posthumously chosen by Ajak as her successor, granting her the ability to communicate with Arishem.
Sersi learns that the mission of the Eternals was actually to prepare Earth for the Emergence. Arishem explains that, for millions of years, he has been planting the seeds of Celestials inside planets where the energy from large populations allows new Celestials to be born.
The Deviants were sent to destroy the apex predators of each planet to ensure the development of intelligent life, but when the Deviants evolved and began hunting the planets’ native populations, Arishem created the Eternals to counter them. With the reversal of the Blip,[N 2] Earth has reached the necessary population for the birth of the Celestial Tiamut, which will result in Earth’s destruction.
Hoping to delay the Emergence, the Eternals reconvene. At Druig’s residence in the Amazon rainforest, they are attacked by the Deviants. They kill them all except for Kro, who kills Gilgamesh before fleeing. Phastos proposes the Uni-Mind, a connection between all the Eternals that would give Druig enough power to put Tiamut to sleep with his mind-control powers.
However, Ikaris reveals that Ajak told him of the Emergence centuries before. When Ajak told him she wishes to stop the Emergence, he led her to the Deviants who killed her. Sprite joins Ikaris due to her unrequited love for him while Kingo chooses to leave.
Makkari locates the place of the Emergence, an active volcano in the Indian Ocean, where Ikaris and Sprite attempt to stop them. Druig knocks out Sprite, and Phastos restrains Ikaris. Kro arrives and is killed by Thena. Druig is unable to put Tiamut to sleep and Sersi instead attempts to turn him into marble. Ikaris breaks free of his restraints and goes to kill Sersi, but finds himself unable to due to his love for her.
Both he and Sprite join with the others in the Uni-Mind and Sersi gains enough power to turn Tiamut into marble. Guilt-ridden, Ikaris flies into the Sun. At Sprite’s request, Sersi uses the remaining energy from the Uni-Mind to turn Sprite into a human, ending her permanent childlike state. Thena, Druig, and Makkari depart on the Domo to find Eternals on other planets and warn them of the Emergences while Sersi, Phastos, and Kingo remain on Earth.
Dane professes his love for Sersi and is about to reveal a secret about his family history when she, Phastos, and Kingo are lifted into space by Arishem. Displeased with their treason, Arishem says he will spare humanity if the Eternals’ memories show that humans are worthy of living. Vowing to return for judgment, he takes the trio with him into a singularity.
In a mid-credits scene, Thena, Makkari, and Druig meet the Eternal Eros, Thanos’s brother, and his assistant Pip the Troll, who offer their help. In a post-credits scene, Dane opens a case containing the Ebony Blade and an unseen person[N 3] questions whether he is ready for it.
Eternals (2021) Box office
Eternals grossed $164.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $237.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $402.1 million. The film’s opening weekend earned $162 million globally, which was the second-largest worldwide opening weekend in the COVID-19 pandemic for a Hollywood film, of which IMAX contributed to over $13.6 million.
Pre-sale tickets and projections
Advanced ticket sales for Eternals were estimated to be $2.6 million in its first 24 hours, outpacing those for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ($1.4 million) and Black Widow ($2 million) during the same time frame, while AMC Theatres had the largest first day sales of 2021 for the film. In November, Fandango reported that pre-sales for Eternals were second-largest of 2021, behind Black Widow.
In October, Boxoffice Pro initially projected that the film would earn $82–102 million within its opening weekend, and around $210–280 million in total domestic box office. At the end of the month, Boxoffice Pro modified their projections to $67–92 million for the film’s opening weekend, and around $165–215 million in total domestic box office, due to mixed early critical reception. According to Deadline Hollywood, Eternals was expected to earn $75 million within its domestic opening weekend, and around $150 million globally.
In the United States and Canada, Eternals earned $30.7 million in its opening day, which included $9.5 million from Thursday night previews, marking the third-largest opening day of the pandemic, behind Black Widow and Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Its opening weekend earned $71.3 million from 5.5 million theater admissions, making it the top film of the weekend. IMAX accounted for over $7.6 million of the weekend. This marked the fourth-largest opening weekend of the pandemic.
The domestic opening weekend gross was lower than various pre-release projections. Deadline attributed this to the film’s overall mixed reception from critics and audiences. In its second weekend, Eternals remained the top film, grossing over $27.5 million. In its third weekend, the film earned $10.8 million, finishing second behind Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
In its fourth weekend, Eternals was fourth, with $11.5 million earned over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend. Eternals became the sixth-highest-grossing film of 2021 in the United States.
Outside of North America, Eternals earned over $90.7 million within its opening weekend from 46 markets. It was number-one in nearly all of these markets. The international opening weekend gross had exceeded various pre-release projections. IMAX contributed to $6 million of the opening gross, from 58 countries. The film scored the largest opening of the pandemic in Italy, Brazil, and Hong Kong. In South Korea, Eternals earned $14.4 million, marking the largest debut for a Hollywood film amid the pandemic.
In Russia, the film earned an opening of $5.4 million through six days. In its second weekend, Eternals earned $48 million from 49 markets, a drop of 49%. It remained number one in many of these territories. The following weekend, the film earned $22.7 million. It was the top film of the weekend internationally, remaining the top film in many territories, including all markets across Latin America, except for Mexico.
In the film’s fourth weekend, Eternals accumulated $10.2 million, while surpassing No Time to Die to become the highest-grossing film of the pandemic in Italy. As of November 28, 2021, the film’s largest markets are South Korea ($26.4 million), the United Kingdom ($18.7 million), France ($14.9 million), Mexico ($14.3 million), and Brazil ($11.1 million).
Eternals (2021) Critical Response
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports an approval rating of 47% based on 398 reviews, with an average rating of 5.60/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “An ambitious superhero epic that soars as often as it strains, Eternals takes the MCU in intriguing—and occasionally confounding—new directions.”
On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 62 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”. It is the lowest-rated MCU film on both websites and the first installment to be classified as “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes.
Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B” on an A+ to F scale, the lowest grade for an MCU film, and PostTrak reported 78% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 60% saying they would definitely recommend it.
Charlotte O’Sullivan of the Evening Standard described the film as “lavish” and “ambitious”, and praised the fight sequences as “astounding, beautifully paced and crammed with detail”. Robert Abele of TheWrap commended the cinematography and felt “an earnestness to the operatic stakes”.
Oliver Jones of the Observer called it “full of wonder and romance and fueled by an agenda and audacity all its own”. Owen Gleiberman was disappointed over Zhao’s missing filmmaking style that shaped her films The Rider (2017) and Nomadland (2020) to “embrace the straight-up expository conventionality of Marvel filmmaking”, but felt that the film was a “squarely fun and gratifying watch”.
Moira Macdonald of The Seattle Times thought “it’s got some pretty slow spots midfilm and it’s desperately in need of a bit more wit … what it does have is a palpable, artful mood; this is a movie full of superheroes who spend time thinking and feeling, and of special effects that aren’t just zippy but often delicately elegant”.
Linda Marric of The Jewish Chronicle described it as “a mishmash of well-meaning, yet jarringly verbose and bafflingly incoherent nonsense which is only just about saved by some half decent performances”; Nicholas Barber of BBC Culture called Zhao’s direction “workmanlike”; and Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent said that it “strives for the same expansive soulfulness” as Nomadland “but discovers there’s room enough only for the occasional burst of it”.
Brian Truitt of USA Today praised Zhao’s “penchant for naturalistic environments”, but wrote that the narrative “struggles to juggle its many subplots and tries to do too much”. Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press criticized the dialogue and fight scenes, but praised the visual effects and Nanjiani’s performance. Shirley Li of The Atlantic felt that “Zhao’s delicate examination of her characters outshines Eternals‘ duller and more convoluted moments”.
Robbie Collin wrote the film was “constantly engaged in a kind of grit-toothed authenticity theatre, going out of its way to show you it’s doing all the things proper cinema does, even though none of them bring any discernible benefit”; Kevin Maher felt “a strange self-sabotaging energy at the heart”; and Steve Rose of The Guardian missed “the breezy wit of Marvel’s best movies … like coming into Avengers: Endgame cold without having seen any of the preceding installments”.
K. Austin Collins of Rolling Stone felt that the film was “good at telling us where to look, at impressing us with its manufactured sense of grandeur”, but lacked “any credible sense of what’s actually worth seeing”. Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times had a “depressing realization that you’ve just seen one of the more interesting movies Marvel will ever make, and hopefully the least interesting one Chloé Zhao will ever make”.
Brian Lowry of CNN thought “the movie’s structural flaws offset its stunning visuals and strong performances”. Kyle Smith of National Review was harsher, describing it as “one of the dumbest, cheesiest, most trite, and least human” of the MCU films.
The mixed reception surprised some commentators, given the MCU’s positive track record and the acclaim of Zhao’s previous work. Richard Newby of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that “much of the criticism of Kirby’s work”, which was divisive for its subject matter and relationship to the wider Marvel Universe, “has followed Zhao in her adaptation.”
He compared the divisive response to that of Zack Snyder’s DC Extended Universe films Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), writing that they and Eternals share “a deconstructive approach to superheroes and force them to question their purpose in the world, through meditative and melancholy narrative beats, and a tragic yet hopeful ending.” This approach, he felt, subverted critics and audiences’ expectations, which made them review the film more harshly.
Zhao addressed some of the criticisms of the film, believing some of the divisiveness came from everyone “having an existential crisis” because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the film being an “existential crisis, both for humanity and God”. She also felt the reactions to how the film incorporated her filmmaking sensibilities with Marvel’s were “a testament to how much we had merged with each other; how uncomfortable that might make people feel”.
Eternals (2021) Accolades
The film was given the Seal of Authentic Representation from the Ruderman Family Foundation for Ridloff’s role as Makkari. The seal is given to films and series that feature actors with disabilities who have at least five lines of dialogue. Eternals was also one of 28 films that received the ReFrame Stamp for 2021, awarded by the gender equity coalition ReFrame for films that are proven to have gender-balanced hiring.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result|
|Gold List Awards||January 18, 2022||Best Actress in a Leading Role||Gemma Chan||Won|
|Hollywood Critics Association Film Awards||February 28, 2022||Best Visual Effects||Daniele Bigi, Matt Aitken, Neil Corbould, and Stephane Ceretti||Nominated|
|Visual Effects Society||March 8, 2022||Outstanding Special (Practical) Effects in a Photoreal Project||Neil Corbould, Keith Corbould, Ray Ferguson, Chris Motjuoadi||Nominated|
|Critics’ Choice Super Awards||March 17, 2022||Best Superhero Movie||Eternals||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||April 2, 2022||Best Visual Effects||Matt Aitken, Daniele Bigi, Stephane Ceretti, and Neil Corbould||Nominated|
|GLAAD Media Awards||April 2/May 6, 2022||Outstanding Film – Wide Release||Eternals||Won|
|Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards||April 9, 2022||Favorite Movie Actress||Angelina Jolie||Nominated|
|BMI Film & TV Awards||May 11, 2022||BMI Theatrical Film Awards||Ramin Djawadi||Won|
|Saturn Awards||October 25, 2022||Best Film Costume||Sammy Sheldon||Pending|
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