Nomadland was the only movie of 2020 that I couldn’t watch. The fact that she won awards at every festival she attended and that she won an Oscar on top of it reinforced my interest in the film. However, the movie I watched when I had the opportunity was a kind of meditation that brought worse sleep than medicine, no matter how well-intentioned it was. There are very few movies that I get bored with watching. I was quite surprised to hear that the director who shot this boring masterpiece would be directing a Marvel movie. There shouldn’t be anything as ironic as a superhero film by a director who takes Terrance Malick as an example. So I ended my review of the movie I wrote for the Öteki Sinema with these sentences.
“I really wonder what kind of superhero movie the director Chloé Zhao, whose narration style led me to siesta, prepared. Again, if she envies Malick’s cinema, she will either make the most boring superhero movie ever made or make a revolution in this field.”
Did it revolutionize? I do not think so. But she is likely to be a pioneer. Of course, although she made a much more dynamic film than I thought, it is obvious that she signed a completely different approach compared to the remaining 25 films in the series. Eternals is an entirely different Marvel movie, both in terms of directing and scenario approach; It is one of the rare examples that succeeded in presenting the philosophical approach sought in the superhero world.
Let’s briefly touch on its subject… The vast space entity known as Celestial sends beings known as Eternals with superpowers to earth. The purpose of these beings is to ensure those earthly beings, that is, we humans, achieve civilization and to ensure that the biggest obstacle to civilization, the creatures called Deviants, are destroyed. However, Eternals cannot be recalled even if they complete their mission. They, too, adapt to life over the past hundreds of years and become a part of society as much as possible.
Eternals is one of the best examples of the new superhero model that I often talk about on social media and constantly try to reinforce through Watchmen. Watchmen, The Boys, and, to a lesser extent, the latest Marvel movie Black Widow focus on their super problems, not their characters’ superpowers, reflecting characters struggling in power. Although they all have superpowers, they focus on being human and the problems that their emotions cause them. Eternals, on the other hand, expands the subject and offers a Darwinist approach. Which, despite its short duration, I think it handles pretty well.
One of the most famous issues of recent years is that the extraterrestrial being who was born falls in love with the being called human. Although millions of intergalactic lives and planets exist, none of them is as blissful as ours. Thor, Captain Marvel, Superman, and many more… Even if they come to our world with a mission or prejudice, they eventually get used to life and become a part of our pitiful flying rock. They lead a pleasant life by using their innate strengths to further their lives. But the Eternals stay in the world longer than necessary, unlike the others. Like the Elves of Middle-earth, they live for hundreds of years and witness almost everything. They experience everything from the most disgusting days to the most glorious moments.
And this has been quite confusing for them for a long time. Because time helps to consolidate the thoughts formed over time. In this process, even though they are united for the same mission, they all have different opinions. Here, this conflict is given in the movie without exaggeration, with Zhao’s mystical camera movements, in a very satisfying way. So even though I cannot open a paragraph for each character, the thoughts of all of them and their approach to the universe and humans are precious, in my opinion.
Sersei is the most adaptable name among them. Being the weakest of the team as a superpower makes her more human, and she understands them better. On the other hand, although Sprite is the most incompatible with society, the emotions she hides in time give her away. She could have been a part of society even more than Sersei if her body had not remained a small child; she could not overcome the obstacle placed by her creator in her mind. The irony is that she has the opportunity to take the shape of whatever or whoever she wants. But she knows her essence inside, which makes her always unhappy. Even though she has powers, she desperately needs humanly attention.
After Phastos gave up hope in humanity, he regained his hope against all humanity thanks to a small person; Kingo’s effort to tell all that he has lived through throughout history and the friendships of Gilgamesh and Thena contain pleasant moments worth watching. But Druig… Druig is another matter. Druig approaches our universe very differently. His dream world is like the first level of the Architect in The Matrix, a completely utopian, noiseless universe without fighting and chaos. A heavenly design. However, what makes our planet unique is the contrasts. Without these contrasts, being good would have no meaning. What makes the good beautiful is that we do not want the bad. Still, it’s hard not to agree with Druig. History is full of uncountable horrors. Although I see good and evil as a necessary opposition in my short 80-year life, it is highly likely that a 5,000-year existence will be saturated with evil.
Marvel movies predominantly serve as a ladder to encounter the villain in the finale. The villain appears; the characters take over, they fight, most likely save the day, and they fight again and win again. This perception is slowly breaking down now, I am aware. Eternals seem to change this perception completely. Both Zhao’s direction and the film’s preferred storytelling will be used frequently in the future. It should be used. Although the movie isn’t entirely faithful to the comic, it’s not offensive to the novel non-native like me. Gender-swap of the main characters is done neatly. Although there are many details in the film, I do not think that it will bother people egregiously.
The main reason I loved Watchmen was its philosophy. Action is something that everyone can do now. But unfortunately, not every movie can give the depth of character. Eternals tells the story of the Eternals, who have their own inner conflicts rather than the fight against the villain. Despite having power and holy life, having troubles has always affected someone like me, who has no effect on the universe. Eternals gives this depth the best from start to finish.
I would like to touch on a few technical aspects as well. I have to say that I especially liked Makkari’s scenes incredibly. The Flash and Peter Maximoff characters were the fastest on screen, but the way and speed with which Makkari used her power was fascinating. Although the film is not a high-level job in terms of action, it is spotless in terms of visual effects. Despite its length, the film does not grin at any point.
Long story short… Eternals is a very successful movie that is not just based on action, focuses on the emotions and inner conflicts of its characters, and reaches a point that can be envied in the future with Zhao’s camera. The movie, which will upset Marvel fans who want to see superheroes fighting against villains, is gold for depth seekers like me. Finally, I must mention Kit Harrington. Marvel will obviously evaluate the actor, who took a short retreat after Game of Thrones. Obviously, he has a serious audience. It seems that he will appear as Black Knight in the future. He will somehow be an essential part of the Marvel universe, either as a solo movie or side character. Who knows. We may even meet him in the upcoming movies.
Cast & Crew
director: Chloé Zhao
writers: Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo (screenplay by) Jack Kirby (based on the Marvel comics by)
starring: Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, Barry Keoghan, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Ma Dong-seok
USA | 2021 | 156 MINUTES |