By Jacob Sahms
Seven thousand years ago, humanoids with super powers called Eternals were sent to different planets by the Celestial Arishem to destroy the Deviants, creatures with immense power who have been hunting the apex predators of each planet. Assigned to Earth are ten Eternals: Ajak, Sersi, Ikaris, Kingo, Sprite, Phastos, Makkari, Druig, Gilgamesh, and Thena. Together, they fought to destroy the Deviants until they eradicate the beasts in the 1500s. Now in the present, they discover there are more Deviants, that the plan of the Celestials involves the destruction of Earth, and that their love for Earth has driven them to stand with the humans against this new plan.
This is a Marvel movie unlike any others; it references the Blip, the Avengers, and others, but takes place in a way that it’s fighting a different fight from the characters we know and ignoring all of the fights that we have seen in film before. At the center is Sersi (Gemma Chan) who can manipulate matter, and may be the most ethical of all of the Eternals, and her love for Ikaris (Richard Madden), a Superman-like character who loves Sersi back but has a different agenda.
The story is based on the Jack Kirby creation from the 1970s. The history has some original ideas in the film that audiences can now watch through Disney+, at the core the battle between the Eternals and Deviants. But the origin story that Sersi finds out from Arishem is a bit different from what the Eternals believe about themselves as the film starts. The Celestials are actually created beings akin to robots (a la Westworld), whose memories get rebooted periodically, but so are the Deviants, who evolved to the point that Arishem could not control them or keep them from rampaging. But both the Celestials and Deviants are part of the Arishem equation for controlling how Celestial descendants come to be.
The creation story is certainly sensationally different from the Biblical text, with several strong personalities fighting tug and pull over whether things can be done for the greater good or not. The end result is a discussion about whether or not human beings are worth being saved and defended — which from a Biblical perspective is that God loved humanity enough to send Jesus to die on the cross so that we could be forgiven of our sins. That’s certainly a different way to get to the point where we recognize we were created on purpose and with love… something the Eternals clearly wish was true but wasn’t.
Big picture, mind-blowing, and dramatic, Eternals is a different kind of Marvel movie, a thinking kind of one, that will stretch the audience – the mature one – into considering how different our understanding of Creation is from myths and legends that lack a Creator who loves us unconditionally.
Eternals is rated PG-13 (Fantasy Violence and Action|Brief Sexuality|Some Language).