Eternals Will Change the MCU in a Big Way

Courtesy Marvel Studios

The Eternals is the next MCU film that Disney is releasing, hitting theaters on November 5, 2021. We learned this past week that all remaining 2021 Disney movies will get at least a 45-day theatrical window. Director Chloe Zhao thinks her film will create waves and bring change for the good to the MCU. Total Film interviewed the director and some of the cast where they talked about how this could change everything.

With the success of Shang-Chi, this is not surprising, and we could see Eternals grace the big screen for even longer should it do well in the box office. Eternals looks to make a splash but the question is how big? Many films claim they will, few actually succeed.

Zhao, the award-winning director known for Nomadland, was brought on to create the next great team-up film for the MCU. Delayed for a year due to real-world situations, Marvel’s Eternals could be just the 1-2 punch Disney needs, with Shang-Chi. The film boasts an all-star cast that includes Angelina Jolie. Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani, Gemma Chan, and Kitt Harrington. The theme Zhao is trying to purvey is quite obvious.

Courtesy Marvel Studios

To say the MCU has lacked some diversity in its first three phases is an understatement. This is not to say Marvel and Disney have failed in what they were trying to do, they just had certain source material they needed to get out of the way first. Enter the Eternals, a group of beings created by the Celestials to protect humanity from Deviants. 

Thanos plot holes aside (Thanos is an Eternal/Deviant hybrid), this film could be the next Guardians of the Galaxy. Many news outlets thought the 2014 blockbuster would flop. Even actress Amanda Seyfried told the Hollywood Reporter last year she turned down the role of Gamora because she thought the same thing.

We know that Eternals is different because we have characters that all look human. The Guardians of the Galaxy only have one human member, Star-Lord/Peter Quill. Ajak actress Salma Hayek told Total Film the movie is “completely a game-changer.” Of course, we have had diverse leads in comic book films in the past (Shang-Chi, Blade, Black Panther, Spawn played by Michael Jai White) but never has such an ensemble comic book film cast been so diverse.

Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) who will play Ikaris said “Eternals marks a powerful leap forward in terms of representation.” The Eternals will give us characters that are magical beings thousands of years old, yet they will be presented as living amongst and looking like humans with different ages, sexual orientations, and disabilities. These are types of people most do not think of when thinking of superheroes.

Courtesy Marvel Studios

We will be getting a deaf superhero (Makkari/Lauren Ridloff) and an openly gay one (Phastos/Brian Tyree Henry). We will be getting characters that look very young (Sprite/Lia McHugh) and some that look older (Hayek just turned 54). Hayek was even surprised she got the call. “No one [normally calls] and says ‘I’ve been thinking about you for my next film,” she said. “And it’s also a huge movie, and you get to be a superhero in your fifties, when you’re Mexican Lebanese.”

We will also get the first Near Eastern superhero when Kumail Nanjiani takes on the role of Kingo. This certainly paves the way for future MCU series, Ms. Marvel, another Pakistani superhero. Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan will feature in the Captain Marvel Sequel, The Marvels.

It is nice that Zhao and Marvel seem to have presented Eternals as characters who are just who they are. They are on Earth to protect humans from deviants so it is not so far-fetched that they have molded their hidden lives to blend in with the humans.

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Courtesy Marvel Studios

Despite no angle, it will definitely be nice to see that sort of representation on screen when Eternals hits theaters on November 5th. And diversity aside, Deviants showing up on Earth and the Eternals revealing themselves could have their own enormous implications for the MCU. We cannot be sure what those are but if Chloe Zhao is right, Eternals “will have a very big effect on the future of the MCU with what happens in this film.”

Depending on where Eternals is placed in the actual movieverse timeline there could also be multiversal implications that come into play a la Loki. Less than a month and a half later, on December 17th Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into theaters. Will Dr. Strange have something to say about the Eternals?  He will probably have his hands full with the Sinister Six.

Either way, we are very excited to see what Disney can do with this property. If it is successful could the House of Mouse extend the theatrical window? Or will they not want to interfere with Spider-Man? That film is a Sony property so it will be interesting to see which way Feige and company go. One thing is for certain, Eternals looks to have a huge impact on superhero properties moving forward.

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