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(Left to Right) Lauren Ridloff, Don Lee, Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Gemma Chan, Lia McHugh and Brian Tyree Henry star in Marvel's "The Eternals."
In just two years, Disney+ has become more than home toda DisneyHuge library of content, now a launching pad for the company's best-known franchises.
Series released on the platform have become must-sees for fans of Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as these new entrants not only build on existing lore established in theatrical releases, but also expand the mythology to new heights.
For that reason, Disney+ would be the perfect place to introduce characters from Marvel's latest film, The Eternals. Such a shift would require incredible vision from Marvel's executive team. However, it could have solved many of the problems that led to the film becoming the lowest-rated film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
*Note: Spoilers for "The Eternals" ahead*
The Eternals is the first major team-up movie in the MCU since 2019's Avengers: Endgame, and it has drawn harsh comparisons to what many saw as Marvel's endurance game. The film introduces nearly a dozen new main characters to the canon and tries to explain why these individuals, who have lived on the planet for centuries, have never seen each other before.
While there's no doubt that the film pushed the envelope on its cast, its attempts to delve into the lore, flesh out its main heroes, and connect to previous MCU films in the series left it feeling overwhelmed.critics said.
A new era for Marvel
After Endgame, Marvel paved the way for the future with its Disney+ feature films and series.
WandaVision explored Wanda Maximoff's grief over losing her sight in Avengers: Infinity War and how she embraced her Chaos magic and her role as the Scarlet Witch. It also revealed the origin of Monica Rambeau's powers and set up villain Agatha Harkness for future episodes.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier featured Sam Wilson's transition from The Falcon to the next Captain America, with help from The Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes. It also established Valentina Allegra de Fontaine as the new antagonist.
"Loki" saw the destruction of the "Sacred Timeline", a singular branch of reality, in a fractured multiverse. This is a clear setup for "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness".
Theatrically, "Black Widow" brought Yelena Belova into the fold and "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" introduced the hero Shang-Chi. And, of course, "Spider-Man: Far From Home," which was released before the pandemic hit, followed Peter Parker as he and the rest of the world struggled with the aftermath of Thanos' snap and Tony Stark's sacrifice. It also ended up leaking Peter's identity and setting the stage for the upcoming No Way Home.
However, Eternals was perhaps Marvel's most ambitious project. In less than three hours, the studio had to create 10 new superheroes with different powers and personalities and cover the history of around 7,000 years.
Where the "eternals" faltered
Many expected the Eternals to learn from the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, a Marvel movie that quickly established its quirky new cast of heroes. While both movies have great casts, "Guardians" doesn't focus on the past. There are a few behind-the-scenes glimpses of the characters, but they aren't full parts of the film.
"'Guardians' is the only example where everything is new, all at once, but doesn't cover thousands of years of history," said Shawn Robbins, principal analyst at BoxOffice.com. "Many viewers felt that 'The Eternals' was two hours and 20 minutes of world building and about 20 minutes of actual progression."
Critics felt that too much of the Eternals movie was spent exploring the past and not enough time was spent on how these immortal beings will behave in the MCU's future. For many, the post-credits scenes did more to build up subsequent movies and series than the movie itself.
"'The Eternals' was too long for a movie, but too short for what [Marvel] wanted to do," said Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University professor and pop culture expert who broke new dramatic ground with the leisure of a movie.
“Eight episodes, 10 episodes, is a great way to start this new segment of the universe,” he said.
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Just do it
Marvel is no stranger to delving into the past to tell stories about its superheroes. Although Ant-Man and the Wasp was released after Infinity War, it actually takes place before the events of that film. Captain Marvel is set in the '90s and Black Widow, which was released after Endgame, is set in the period between Captain America: Civil War and Infinity War.
However, these films not only featured characters that audiences were familiar with, but also spent much of their runtime advancing the franchise's overarching story. Ant-Man and the Wasp explained where Scott Lang was during the events of Infinity War and introduced the quantum technology that would be used in Endgame.
In Black Widow, while focusing on Natasha Rominoff, Marvel introduced Yelena, a character who would face Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, who was said to have caused Natasha's death.
And Captain Marvel established Carol Danvers as a force to be reckoned with. Audiences needed to see why Nick Fury cast her during the post-credits scene in Infinity War and established Carol as one of the new leaders of the Avengers.
Introducing the Eternals in a limited series on Disney+ would give Marvel the opportunity to delve into each individual hero and present the mythology of these beings over an extended period of time. So the Eternals movie could have focused more on how the Eternals characters impact the future of the MCU.
Yes it is...?
An Eternals series could have started with the Eternals landing in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago, just like in the movie. The first two episodes could have focused on the team's interaction with the natives after protecting them from the Deviants and their time in Babylon.
The audience would see how these beings were assimilated into primitive society and get a glimpse of why they are on the planet in the first place. While the movie had to throw information about the history of the Celestials and the Eternals' mission on Earth in quick bursts, a series would have allowed Marvel to take more time explaining this rich and complicated myth.
The second episode may end with the Spanish conquest of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan in 1521, which is the last known sighting of the Deviants and when the team splits up.
Later episodes could focus on the 500-year period between the team's breakup and the events of the film. Marvel could more fully and meaningfully delve into Ikaris and Sersi's love story over the course of an entire episode, showing viewers how the relationship has evolved over the centuries.
While her partner led to the first on-screen sex scene in a Marvel movie, the movie didn't have enough time to explore what it's like to be an immortal lover. It also would have made Ikaris's absence from Sersi's life in the first part of the Eternals movie more noticeable and emotional.
Richard Madden and Gemma Chan star in Marvel's Eternals.
An episode could be devoted to Kingo, who established himself in the early days of Bollywood cinema and passed the torch on to his 'descendants' over several decades.
Given that Thena suffers from a dementia-like condition called Mahd Wy'ry, which makes her suddenly agitated and lashes out at those around her, an episode could have focused on Gilgamesh finding the couple a safe place to live in Australia. The public could have had more information about their strong friendship and the difficulties of dealing with Thena's illness.
A series would also have allowed Marvel to explore Sprite's fear of never aging past the form of a teenager and Druig's time running his own facility of mind-controlled villagers in the middle of the jungle.
We could also have seen Phastos' loss of faith in humanity after the events of World War II and the atomic bomb, and then how his relationship with Ben renewed that faith. It could also have given us an idea of what Ajak has been doing on Earth over the course of five centuries.
Plus, Marvel could have found unique ways to follow Makkari's adventures through the centuries.Earring"A Quiet Place" and "A Quiet Place Part II" are great examples of how sound, or lack thereof, can be used in an episode to present Makkari's experience. ThisSyfyThe show "The Magicians" made a powerful segment in the Season 3 episode "Six Short Stories About Magic" where the audio is nearly silent and the audience gets to experience how a deaf character on the show experiences the world.
We know from the film that Makkari can feel vibrations, which allows him to perceive movement and even speech. Marvel could have found a unique way to fit this into an entire episode.
Once these characters and their lore were established, the Eternals movie could only have focused on Sersi's attempt to reunite the team and the fallout from Ikaris' betrayal. This would have given more weight to Ajak's death, which occurs at the very beginning of the film, as well as Gilgamesh in the middle.
Why didn't Marvel do this?
Of course, developing an Eternals TV series for Disney+ would have been a huge risk for both Disney and Marvel. While the company announced plans to launch its own streaming service in 2017, there was no guarantee that upcoming series like Star Wars' The Mandalorian and its lineup of Marvel content would resonate with audiences.
"I think they could have made it logistically impossible," said Doug Creutz, an analyst at Cowen. "That doesn't mean it wouldn't be a good idea for the future."
Kumail Nanjiani plays Kingo in Marvel's The Eternals.
Not only that, but Marvel's production pipeline and release schedule has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, causing many of its theatrical and broadcast releases to be delayed and some of its plans to be reconfigured.
"The Eternals," first announced in 2018, underwent principal photography between July 2019 and February 2020, just before the pandemic brought the entire entertainment industry to a halt. The film was supposed to be released on November 6, 2020, but ended up being pushed back to February 2021 and then to November 5, 2021.
So the first MCU-connected show only launched on Disney+ last January and ended up becoming WandaVision, although The Falcon and Winter Solider were initially expected to arrive first.
Financially speaking, of course, adding an Eternals series to the production slate would have been an expensive proposition. These shows have budgets very similar to feature films of $200 million. Add in the top-notch talent that Marvel recruited to fill out the cast, including Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie, as well as rising stars like Gemma Chan, Kit Harington, and Richard Madden, and you have an expensive production budget.
While theatrical releases can easily recoup these budgets through movie ticket sales, the success of a Disney+ series is measured by subscriber acquisition and retention. This makes the project even more risky.
"This is not a missed opportunity," Creutz said. "It could have been a great way to make a movie that was always going to be a little harder to get. But it's a risk. Let's say you do [a series] and it doesn't end well. You could cut your legs off under the movie."
And it's not out of the question that Marvel could revisit the Eternals in a prequel show. Screenwriters Ryan and Kaz Firpo told The Hollywood Reporter they wouldI love going back and telling different stories about these characters.
"Go back and do an episode of Kingo in Mumbai in the 1890s, where he balances his life as a movie star and deals with Gandhi's peaceful dissolution of the British Empire in India," said Kaz Firpo. "And there's an episode with Thena where she's in Greece. I'd like to do that show. There are so many opportunities."
“There will be a story to be told in the cosmos where the Eternals confront Arishem and all the Celestials who are these incredible metaphors for creation,” he said. "I think there are a lot of stories in the Eternals universe."
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Syfy.
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screaming in the street
What is the main problem with Eternals? ›
First, the action choreography is dull, and the visuals are equally bland. Then there's the fact that there's nothing to strengthen most of the sequences; no emotional hook or character moments to be found. It ends up just being repeated scenes of super people punching bad guys.Is Marvel Eternals any good? ›
Eternals is a jam-packed, ambitious and oddly imperfect addition to the Marvelverse. August 16, 2022 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review… Eternals may be one of the weakest Marvel movies yet, but there is still enough to enjoy as it propels us into a new and uncertain future for the franchise.Why couldnt Eternals help Avengers? ›
Why did the Eternals never help the Avengers? The Celestials ordered them to ONLY help when Deviants are involved. None of the Avengers' enemies are confirmed to be related to Deviants, hence the Eternals could not help them.Are critics wrong about Eternals? ›
Disney+ just recently dropped the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Eternals. Critics have had plenty of gripes when dealing with the film. Critics have said that its script was muddled and the character development was lacking. While some complaints may be justified, there is no denying the film's spectacle.Why are people disliking Eternals? ›
With its release on Disney+ at the beginning of 2022, some fans gave Eternals another chance. Upon a second viewing, most fans were firm in their stance that Eternals was a lackluster snooze-fest of a film packed with too many characters, not enough chemistry between them and a plot that was too meta to fully grasp.Will there be Eternals 2? ›
Eternals 2 has become one of the most anticipated movies. Seems like we are kept in the dark and the sequel is already confirmed.Is Eternals necessary to watch? ›
That said, if you saw Eternals when it came out, you probably don't need to watch the movie before seeing Thor 4. This isn't a super deep-cut reference. it's pretty obvious and it also won't really diminish your enjoyment of Love and Thunder if you don't catch it at all.Can someone explain the Eternals movie? ›
Eternals follows a group of ancient beings who have been living on Earth for thousands of years, protecting humans from a terrifying enemy known as the Deviants. After living among humans in secret for many years, a new threat brings the team back together to face off, once more, against these dangerous foes.What do Marvel fans think about Eternals? ›
I would recommend “Eternals” to Marvel fans who want to know more about the role these heroes play in the Marvel universe. The after-credits reveal major information you will need to know before the next “Eternals” movie. Overall, I would rate this movie an 8/10 for the groundbreaking characters.Why does Eternals not help Thanos? ›
The Eternals specifically state that they did not interfere with Thanos and his genocidal finger snap due to their sacred mission, which only allowed intervention when the Deviants were involved.
Did Eternals help Thanos? ›
'Eternals': Okay, But It's Still Pretty Wild They Didn't Help Out With Thanos. And/or any of the other supervillain threats and global catastrophes of the last 7,000 years. [Editor's note: The following contains spoilers for Eternals.]Why is Eternals so controversial? ›
The featuring of MCU's first gay couple and first-ever sex scene led to bans in several countries and “Eternals” is currently among entertainment giant's worst received movies.Is Eternals a flop? ›
The movie is quite different from the other Marvel movies, which can also be one of the reasons why it didn't do well at the box office. The 26th Marvel flick Eternals has finished its run in the North American theatres and has been distinguished as the second-lowest grossing film of the MCU.Did ikaris survive the sun? ›
Guilt-ridden over his betrayal to Arishem and his actions against his fellow Eternals, Ikaris leaves earth and flies into the sun, ending his life.Who is Thanos's brother? ›
Thanos now appeared at the trial and testified that his brother, Starfox, inspired his obsession with Death when they were children, when attempting to make young Thanos accept the death of an animal he had involuntarily killed with his enormous strength.How many Eternals are left? ›
With Ajak and Gilgamesh (Don Lee) dead, that leaves Sersi, Phastos, Kingo, Makkari, Druig, and Thena as the surviving members of Arishem's original team. Within that remaining six, the Eternals split off into two groups.Will Eternals join Avengers? ›
Technically, Gilgamesh and Sersi were the first Eternals from Earth to become members of the Avengers. But the first Eternal Avenger was none other than Eros, AKA Starfox. Starfox came to Earth in AVENGERS (1963) #232, and he immediately asked to join the roster.What's next after Eternals? ›
"They have announced there's going to be an Eternals sequel. Chloé Zhao is going to direct it," he said in August 2022. "So, hopefully there will be more adventures of Starfox and Pip."Are the 10 rings related to the Eternals? ›
The Ten Rings, after all, are circular in design, like much of the technology utilized by the Eternals. They also appear to be energy-based in their use, much like the tools and weapons used by the Eternals are fueled by cosmic energy.Who was the person talking at the end of Eternals? ›
Writer and director Chloé Zhao has recently revealed that the mysterious voice at the end of Eternals belongs no none other than Blade, the vampire hunter who's set to join the MCU in a solo movie starring Mahershala Ali.
Who is the guy at the end of the Eternals movie? ›
Fortunately, it was revealed shortly after Eternals' theatrical release that the scene's mystery character is none other than Mahershala Ali's Blade, who is set to appear in his MCU solo film sometime in the next few years.Did Thanos knew about Eternals? ›
Now, it's not explicitly said in Eternals nor in any other MCU movie if Thanos knew about The Emergence in Infinity War or not, but he most likely did.Was the Eternals a flop? ›
The 26th Marvel flick Eternals has finished its run in the North American theatres and has been distinguished as the second-lowest grossing film of the MCU.What is up with the Eternals? ›
The Eternals believe they're from the world of Olympia, but they're actually synthetic beings created by the Celestials at the World-Forge and sent to wipe out the Deviants (meaning one creation was sent to stop another).What is Eternals trying to stop? ›
The Eternals manage to stop the Emergence through Phastos' device known as the Uni-Mind. This allows the Eternals to combine their separate amounts of cosmic energy - which give them their endless lifespans - to combine together and give one of them enough power to stop Tiamut from emerging.Will there be an Eternals 2? ›
Eternals 2 has become one of the most anticipated movies. Seems like we are kept in the dark and the sequel is already confirmed.Is Thanos an Eternals? ›
An Eternal–Deviant warlord from the moon Titan, Thanos is regarded as one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. He has clashed with many heroes including the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Fantastic Four, the Eternals, and the X-Men.Is Eternals connected to Doctor Strange? ›
Benedict Cumberbatch-starrer Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has a connection to last year's release Eternals.Was that Nick Fury at the end of Eternals? ›
Others thought maybe it was Nick Fury rounding up a new team for some sort of new mission. But director Chloé Zhao confirmed that person's identity to Fandom: Blade, set to be played by two-time Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali, who provided the voice in this scene.