Phase Fourward: A review of Shang-Chi, What-If and Eternals (with spoilers)

How Shang-Chi's fighting style changes in the new Marvel movie's ending -  CNET
Image by CNET (How can I try to explain? When I do, he turns away again…..)

I have started to feel that dreaded superhero fatigue as Marvel’s Phase 4 begins over the course of this year. From unsatisfying conclusions to the first two DisneyPlus shows to the overall allrightness of Black Widow, my enthusiasm for the Marvel Cinematic Universe has slowly but surely begun to wane. Maybe it’s just waiting for the next big hook of what will make the MCU come together again or maybe it’s because the formula that Marvel has all but perfected is starting to show its limitations in terms of how to continually impress me.

I’m weighed down by the criticisms that have become harder to ignore as time goes on relating to what the MCU represents in today’s popular culture. An assembly line of entertainment that is often by itself lesser than the sum of its parts. The “assembly line” statement is almost unavoidable to completely dismiss when you consider the load of content that is now being given to this shared universe in just one year, let alone several.

There was a time when Marvel Studio’s ambitions to plan out films years in advance and then advertise them was seen as too much, too reckless. Going from two films a year to three, now four and on top of that several Disneyplus shows combined make the MCU busier but not necessarilly more fastidious.

Next year alone will be four new films: the next Dr. Strange, Thor, Black Panther and Captain Marvel features, on top of TBD releases for Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, She-Hulk and even a continuation of the beloved 90s’ X-Men cartoon, though that is reportedly unrelated to the MCU. With the Multiverse’s official debut in Loki, maybe that’s not as true as you would think.

I’m not saying that none or any of these upcoming projects will be good or great, some do have my rapt attention like Dr. Strange and Wakanda’s next appearances. Others can go either way, though I still hope for the best.

The problem that is compounded by this perceived bloat is that it starts to make individual entries of the MCU seem less important, perhaps lost in the overall picture. The more there is, the less special it can feel, regardless of the quality contained therein.

I still want Marvel to succeed in years to come, if only for the possibility of recapturing some of that earlier MCU magic I have felt in the past. This Christmas, the third Tom Holland Spider-Man film seems to be the best bet in the lineup to do so. But you can’t quite always strike gold and one of the entries on this lineup of MCU to look over is an intriguing strike-out if there ever was one.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Like with Dr. Strange before his first movie in 2016, I read the early classic stories of Shang-Chi, co-created by none other than Thanos’ daddy Jim Starlin. In spite of his stereotypically yellow appearance and his even more stereotypical looking father, literally Fu Manchu, the beginning of one of the more under the radar Marvel figures is actually quite wonderful.

Written in the early 70s, and in spite of the appearences of the Master of Kung-Fu and his father, Shang-Chi’s tale of forsaking Fu Manchu and his evil criminal empire is riveting stuff. The honor-bound hero, while of course full of East Asian philosophical wisdom, comes across as a relatable wanderer. Trying to both outlast and perhaps one day outdo his bad dad, Shang-Chi travels the world, relaying his inner conflict to the reader gratefully not in broken English.

His mental description of how he fights foes big and small is both entertaining and demonstrates effortlessly why we should believe he is the “Master of Kung-Fu.” The artwork for the most part is strikingly beautiful and goes against the assumptions often reality that American comic book art at the time was cheap and poorly constructed. Not here, Shang-Chi is among the best visually of Marvel’s work in the 1970s and as a result manages to be more than an obvious cash-in on the martial arts craze that hit the States following the rise of Bruce Lee.

How does Shang-Chi as a film work compared to his early comic days? Obviously, a lot of comics history has passed since the era I read of. A half-century in fact to borrow and utilize for the MCU’s interpretation. One notable and inevitable change to Shang-Chi’s background is changing the identity of his father.

It was already changed in the comics as Fu Manchu is a character that simply can’t be done anymore, no matter how tasteful the attempt. The character was a result of the xenophobic “Yellow Peril” of the early 20th century. A figure not just meant to be feared as an individual, but a ugly reflection of an entire group of people. Perhaps making Fu Manchu’s son into an unambiguously heroic figure who openly opposes his father was meant almost as apology. See, not all Chinese people are shady, lizard faced, Machiavellian monsters that will commit unspeakable atrocities on you? Shang-Chi, he’s one of the good ones. See what I mean?

Of course, Shang-Chi’s arch-enemy remains his dad and we all love a story every now and then of the son or daughter who are in the moral right showing up their in-the-wrong parents. Luke and Darth Vader are to modern generations the defining example of Generational Divide being translated into a Good vs Evil struggle. Darth Vader as the villainous father taught me an important though hard-kept lesson that was important to a young child: Sometimes, maybe more often than you think, your parents may not just be wrong, they can be evil. Being your parent is no excuse.

I don’t recall who is Shang-Chi’s father in the current comic continuity, but in the MCU he is the result of one of the biggest walk-backs Marvel has ever done in regards to criticism over character translation: The Mandarin.

Iron Man 3’s release in 2013 was met with controversy by the fandom over reducing the titular character’s comic arch-enemy, long expected to one day show up in the MCU, into a joke. It was a funny joke, a twist that landed very well with me. I’ll admit, the third Iron Man was starting to drag when I first saw it and the reveal that Ben Kingsley was merely an actor pretending to be a terrorist warlord gave me one hell of a second wind when it came to my enjoyment of the film. My takeaway was not in the majority.

Iron Man 3’s home release had a short called All Hail the King, which showed what happened to Trevor Slattery, the actor who portrayed the fake Mandarin in the main film. He ends up serving time in prison quite happily, not bothered all that much that he was caught up in trying to kill a freaking Avenger. At the end of the short, he is kidnapped out of prison by agents of the actual “Mandarin”. All this to reassure upset fans that yes, there is a real more or less comics-accurate Mandarin lying in wait to one day end up in this cinematic universe.

It’s a pity that Tony Stark never lived to face his comic book nemesis as having Robert Downey Jr. face down Tony Leung’s version of the character would’ve been quite fun. In the end, if Tony did have a nemesis, he had two: Thanos and himself. Worthy opponents that he both managed to defeat in the end.

Making the Mandarin Shang-Chi’s father was just too perfect. Not only does the Mandarin’s presence along with his terrorist empire The Ten Rings make it tie in with the very beginning of the MCU’s run, it also creates the perfect space to include possibly the highest profile Asian villain in Marvel’s history without any unfortunate implications.

Since the film’s been out since early September, I will give some plot details including over the third act but will continue to leave out one fun surprise in store even though I’m sure you may have learned of it by happenstance by this point.

The Mandarin joins Thanos, Ego and the Vulture in affirming the notion that one of the MCU’s enduring themes is daddy issues. Daddy issues that can have cataclysmic, cosmic consequences. I don’t know if this is a reflection of Kevin Feige trying to air out some of his issues but man the nasty daddies keep on coming.

Before I get to the titular Shang-Chi finally (don’t worry, just reflecting how sidelined he is in his own film half the time), let me just state that the best part of Shang-Chi’s first movie is Tony Leung as Wen-Wu/Mandarin. Leung is considered one of the best Hong Kong actors of his generation, an icon born out of an arguable golden age for HK cinema that bore Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Michelle Yeoh (also starring here), Donnie Yen, Stephen Chow and of course, the guns akimbo master Chow Yun Fat.

I was first exposed to Tony Leung in the fourth and best of John Woo’s “Heroic Bloodshed” features, 1992’s Hard Boiled, co-starring alongside Fat. Hard Boiled is my pick for the best action film I have ever seen with gun based action sequences that are as operatic as they are blood-soaked and stunning in their technical execution. Violent as they are, Hard Boiled and Woo’s The Killer are fantastic introductions to the man who will be Shang-Chi’s dad.

One enduring aspect to Chinese culture is the concept of family and the honor that comes with maintaining it. Virtually every human culture gives some amount of consideration due to it being an instinctual aspect of our species, but Chinese family structures are particularly placed into the forefront when demonstrating themselves to other non-Asian cultures. To some extent, striving on behalf of the family or society over yourself is a wide-spread aspect of all Asian cultures, at least to the ones I am knowledgeable of.

High-context cultures are less individualistic than low context ones like mine and I see both wisdom and issue with that mindset. Having your mind be attuned to the needs of a community is a mindset that would benefit the whole world to no end right about now in 2021. Shang-Chi reflects both an earnest and dark reflection on the family structure. Shang-Chi comes to blows with his father running a thousand year old criminal empire, maintained with the titular Ten Rings that give him both deadly power and eternal youth.

This is much like how Shang-Chi of the original comics was initially devout to his father until he realized what he would have to do to not only serve him but one day replace him. He retreats from his father and tries to live a normal, somewhat boring life in the states, making new friends like Katy (Awkwafina), being a car parker, enjoying after hours karaoke and miracously affording rent in San Francisco.

To take a page out of Cowboy Bebop, which recently suffered an awful live action adaption on Netflix, Shang-Chi tried to outrun his past. But in the end, doing so simply isn’t possible. In return, he has to kung-fu punch his way right back at it.

He ends up embroiled in a plot which gets both his not-love interest Katy and his sister Xu Xialing right back in his father’s presence. Turns out, daddy Wen-Wu plans to extend this big-old family reunion to a member who should be dead: his wife and Shang-Chi’s mother.

Tony Leung’s Wen-Wu is the best character in the movie and pulls off the “approachable yet still villainous” archetype of a figure as well as I had hoped. He elicits a particular specialty seen with Asian characters made out to be badasses: tranquil fury. Things happen to Wen-Wu in his long life that would make you understanding of him being angry, even if you still oppose him ideologically. Yet rarely if ever does Wen-Wu appear pissed or outraged.

An act of vengeance he commits to those that wronged him is witnessed by a child Shang-Chi. He wipes the floor with them in front of his son. He is ruthless in his action but dead quiet while doing it. Perhaps for a man who has lived a thousand years, pure action, not facial expression or words, is all that really matters to him. The point is made to both those he hates and those he loves.

What I find frustrating yet about Shang-Chi as a movie in spite of Leung’s performance and his relationship with his estranged son is that more often than not, the titular character is sidelined for other characters. While I’m not saying that Katy and Xu Xialing are unimportant, considerable time will pass before we see Shang-Chi again on screen. Much is established exposition-wise leading up the third act and time must be rationed accordingly, but a problem occurs if one begins to notice the lead’s absence.

This is a criticism that was made for Natasha Romanoff in relation to her own movie earlier this year. I was more forgiving due to the title of Black Widow meaning more than just one person. Her sister Yelena, her “mother” played by Rachel Wiesz and that the plot centers on the Black Widow spy program itself made it much easier to excuse when Natasha had to share more time with other people. The same applies to the now streaming Hawkeye show, as Clint Barton is not the only one with that moniker now.

Yet, Shang-Chi is not a title, it’s a person’s name and considering this is our first exposure to the character, unlike Natasha and Clint, I expect more of the dude to take center stage. What is set-up with Shang’s two companions is not without merit and in the case of the sister is actually quite important, especially when factoring the future of the story arc regarding the Ten Rings organization. Maybe this is in truth a quibble more than a structural issue, but if I noticed it, I can’t be the only one.

The third act takes us to a Chinese mythology fantasy land, a pocket dimension that runs on more or less the same logic as Asgard. The supposed source of much of Chinese lore and folk stories, which is bountiful considering how simply old China is as a civilized land, this Shangri-La like location is pretty interesting and only let down by how somewhat artificial it is in presentation, though not to a disrespectful degree.

The final battle, which is a near pre-requisite for an MCU movie starts off promising, presented as an honest to god battle between two small but formidable armies, not just a super-powered melee as we are accustomed to. However, after a certain point, the big giant CGI spectacle rears its expensive, semi-ugly head once again and that’s where I just have to put up with it.

Conceptually, how the battle concludes is actually kindof cool. I feel it would’ve gone down much better for me had it been a completely animated sequence as part of an animated movie. Matters aren’t helped when in the aftermath one of the characters literally compares it to an anime.

It distracts from the purpose of it being a personal yet still visually stimulating duel between father and son and with it two opposing moral sides. Smaller scale to be sure, but impressive enough. It’s also a weak denouement to the style of action that up until a point had made Shang-Chi stand out: honest to god great martial arts fighting.

In spite of occasional spotty camerawork and lighting, the actual hand to hand Mortal (Marvel?) Combat that occurs is among the best I’ve seen in the MCU, eliciting if not the reality but the suggestion of physical risk that marks the best sequences done by Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. This practical fighting being tweaked with the bells and whistles of a modern Marvel picture, including the much advertised SF bus fight and the skyscraper scaffolding scuffle, helps give new life to what Marvel’s action based entertainment can offer.

It’s there up until a point in the final battle and it rather symbolically ends once Wen-Wu is taken off the board. In spite of my gripes, Shang-Chi’s first outing leaves me quite open to witnessing future adventures with him involved. Seeing how he interacts with other figures in the MCU as the mid-credits of course tease is to be looked forward to.

It’s the most solid introduction to a new character and his stand-alone set of work so far in Phase 4, but I would not call it a black-belt result.


Marvel 'What If...?' Season 2 - Release Date, Cast, Spoilers
Image by Men’s Health (Why not…..)

What-If, in terms of promising new exciting possibilities for storytelling in the MCU, very much something on the minds of the average MCU consumer, gets it half-way there. Intriguing ideas are explored or at least on paper given some kind of story to be delved into.

Much like the actual What-If comics, results will vary. Some stories are touching and give off considerations I had genuinely never thought about (the T’Challa as Star-Lord scenario), others are surprisingly dark and yet emotionally harrowing (Doctor Strange goes bad) and others are just not given nearly enough time to be fully explored (Kilmonger meets and befriends Tony Stark).

The first of potentially many seasons for the MCU’s variation on What-If does elicit in me a desire to see more of it, if that is any endorsement. But, at the same time, the handling on a narrative and script-writing level can be frustratingly less than I had come to hope for.

Take for instance the Zombies episode, which depending on who you ask is either among season one’s best or worst episodes. I’m in the middle, as that episode crosses boundaries I didn’t think were possible on Disneyplus, which for me should be cause for celebration in terms of what else can be allowable on the Mouse’s streaming service. On the other hand, the tonal inconsistency between a Return of the Living Dead-like black comedy and a dark horror story can be distracting toward my overall approval.

There is also the idea that some of the episodes like the Zombies one feels like it can and should encompass more than 23 minutes of time.

To once again rag on Netflix’s ill-advised live action take of Cowboy Bebop, it’s a matter of how much time is needed to really sell an idea, too much or too little. The new show starring John Cho and Mustafa Shakir has to take episodic stories from the original anime that lasted between 20 to 30 minutes and stretch it to an hour in length.

The youtuber Cosmonaut Marcus demonstrated that problem by comparing two different scenes of exposition over the same basic plot. The acclaimed anime summed up the conflict of the episode to be addressed in around ten seconds, effortlessly. The exposition in the new show for that same conflict takes over 30 seconds and not succinctly. All because we’ve got to a fill an hour of Netflix somehow.

Here, the reverse is the problem. Some episodes do manage to fit well enough under half an hour and some feel like they deserve a full hour to be properly addressed. The final couple of episodes do tie together into one narrative and much to my surprise, the entire set of seemingly stand alone episodes do come together. That in turn makes the episodes that feel over before they should be come across as more forgivable in hindsight.

What-If’s style of humor can act as a barometer for how funny you find the MCU in general, though I can remember laughing much harder in earlier entries than I had in What-If. One of the lesser regarded episodes, at least by user review on IMDB is the “Thor as party animal” scenario. It’s actually one of the more enjoyable and better written ones in my estimation. The reasons for Thor being a super-powered frat boy are actually well-justified and have an intriguing hook behind it, which makes the “College age but not too College age” humor land better.

What I’m looking forward to when it comes to the further narrations of Jeffrey Wright’s Watcher, aside from more consistent writing quality and perhaps longer episode run-times is seeing if any of the alternate versions of the characters you see in What-If are translated into live action in future MCU installments. Shouldn’t be too difficult and considering the number of upcoming movies like the next Spider-Man, Doctor Strange ,Ant-Man and Loki’s second season, it should be quite a rewarding treat for those who saw through What-If’s first outing. Maybe even a live-Action Uatu the Watcher could be in store.

Despite some standout moments that help make you realize how much further Marvel could take it than they ultimately did, What-If is overall just OK. Like with Shang-Chi before it, I’m up for more of it. And no matter what I say of what’s up next, the same applies there as well.


Image from Screenrant (Ikaris and his SuperAncientFriends in a story that, yes, flew too close to the sun “ricochet”)

Eternals, the more I think about it, is such a maddening installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not really because it’s too complex, too expository or that structurally, is far weaker in result than you would expect from the people who made it.

It’s because in some respects, Chloe Zhao’s maligned entry in the MCU is a concept and a story that could have very well been one of this universe’s greatest achievements. It could’ve given so much of what the good-faith MCU nay-sayers have been wanting: not only something that looks more artful, but is more artful.

Budgetary concerns aside, but come on, considering how much money Disney/Marvel have in their coffers now, maybe screw those concerns, Eternals should have been an epic mini-series on Disneyplus. Unlike the other DisneyPlus offerings which are generally of a higher budget than most television, Eternals should have had the budget of a movie or several movies poured into that show. Again, if anyone on this planet could afford to pull off that financial gambit, it’s the company that is swallowing up other companies like it’s the Sarlacc they now own the intellectual rights to.

Eternals is a lengthy movie that is begging to be expressed over the course of quite a few episodes of TV. Based on the structure the movie actually has, being translated and expanded into episodic format is actually quite easy to picture. What makes this need for a different format even more apparent is that two veterans of a mostly incredible TV show phenomenon that adapted a book series that was once thought unadaptable are in this movie: Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington and Richard Madden. The answer was staring them right in the cast listing.

Eternals is based off of one of Jack Kirby’s latter day contributions to Marvel’s comic universe, created around the time when the fandom proclaimed “King” was having an uneasy relationship with the comic company he helped propel into legend.

In the 70s’, inspired by a thought of movement that can be ascribed as “Ancient Aliens”, in which humanity had been visited by extraterrestrial life much in our history, Jack Kirby created two different groups of godlike groups for two opposing superhero comic lines.

Kirby first gave us the New Gods for DC, best known for introducing one of that comic universe’s most iconic and frightening antagonists: Darkseid.

Image from AlphaCoders (You exist because Darkseid allows it and you will end because Darkseid demands it.)

Later on, Kirby gave us the Marvel equivalent to the New Gods in the form of, you guessed it, the Eternals. While the New Gods were too busy waging an endless war against each other far off away from Earth, the Eternals were involved in human history, helping inspire mythical figures across the world. Ikaris=Icarus, Makkari=Mercury, Phastos=Hephaestus, Thena=Athena, Ajak=Ajax, Gilgamesh….Gilgamesh, you get the idea.

The Eternals got up in our business for the most part due to the presence of the Deviants, a malevolent sister race to them who wanted to mess us up and stilt our progress. Those heroes from their Chariot of the Gods said “nuh-uh” to all that and have remained up until modern times at least one of the most covert groups of superheroes in Marvel’s world. The similarly themed Inhumans are more in the open than them.

The cinematic Eternals are called upon by Arashim, one of the Celestials, part of a group of basically God-like entities first glimpsed in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. They are tasked with helping an up and coming sentient species called humanity both get better at growing a civilization and also protecting them from a more predatory, wholly CG iteration of the Deviants. They must do so as long as the Celestials desire, as one day they will be relieved of their duties for Earth.

The concept of the Eternals as suggested through their new major motion picture is one with potential that again should be explored and made part of that cinematic universe we have been experiencing since 2008. The themes Eternals explore is certainly rich enough to justify something. Well, I guess we did get something either way.

What Eternal life does to an individual, psychologically, emotionally and with regard to relationships. What is more important, loyalty to a higher cause regardless of what that cause asks of you or to the people that are with you in life? With great power, comes great responsibility, isn’t that right? Well, what if that aforementioned “higher cause” told you not to use that great power save for only one purpose, no exceptions?

What if in truth, you might have wasted the life you had to live? This is more pronounced than for any one of us considering that the Eternals time on Earth alone measures thousands of years. What if all those millenniums you spent doing your job was for something you didn’t like or want? I mean, come on, this is narrative gold for Marvel and it’s exploration is stunted all because it has to be addressed in 2 hours and 35 minutes.

One of the most pronounced examples of this tragically wasted material is with the relationship between arguably the two most showcased eternals, though that can be occasionally hard to register due to their being up to ten of them to juggle: Ikaris and Cersi.

Richard Madden’s Ikaris and Gemma Chan’s Cersi are two eternals who over the course of 4,000 years fall in love, get married and then break up over irreconcilable differences( a break up that might have been nice to see, by the way).

Even with a well-paced mini-series, it might be impossible to really capture a romance that covers that much time. Considering that no human, no nothing on Earth can live that long, it really is a matter of theory. And yet, it would be fascinating and much more emotional to have more time spent with just this kind of dynamic of two individuals starting off as friends, becoming lovers, spouses, spending a great life together longer than you or I can ever have and then something heart-breaking bringing them apart.

That’s enough for one story in the MCU and yet there are eight other Eternals. To be fair, not every last Eternal needs to have as much attention given as the other, some can fit well as just secondary characters. Ironically, one of my favorite Eternals, Makkari the deaf speedster, is so because the movie allows her to just be a side eternal, not given even more pressure to the narrative by having a back-story to look at.

It could also be a consequence of her being deaf (for some reason) and having to use sign language to communicate, which simplifies her purpose altogether. I’m very aware I might’ve insulted actual deaf people with these words and I apologize. If it’s any further consolation, Marvel is about to give us another deaf character, Echo, to be seen in Hawkeye. Marvel sees so much potential with this hearing impaired character in fact, they’ve already greenlit her own DisneyPlus show. Maybe Makkari has to play a smaller role because of the room she has to share with her cosmic brethren, and the deaf thing was perhaps an excuse.

Ikaris and Cersi’s love story is not the only thing incapable of having the time to be not only explored enough, but to make us feel emotionally attached to. The two other standout eternals in terms of room to explore all on their own is Angelina Jolie’s Thena and Lia McHugh’s Sprite. The latter I am especially aggravated by, as her plight is something that I really wanted to see more time spent on.

Thena, the most warrior like of the Eternals (She did inspire the Greek Goddess of warfare), starts to develop a mental illness which becomes a dangerous liability to everyone in her life including her maybe (?) lover Gilgamesh (Don Lee). It stems from having so many memories in her incredibly long life that she basically experiences a magical form of Alzheimer’s. It reminds me of a mentally deteriorating Vulcan, like Spock’s dad Sarek.

Great idea, especially interesting to be coming from not only a character portrayed by Jolie, but by an otherwise badass female warrior. Her condition does come into play with a pretty dark revelation that helps move the plot forward, but otherwise it is a fascinating idea not given the time to breathe well.

Sprite is an eternally teenage looking Eternal who unlike Makkari does question why her Celestial master cursed her with an arbitrarily cruel impairment. While she can mimic any given thing, including a grown woman, as seen in an early scene with her at a London night club, she cannot actually just be a grown woman. Being thousands of years old, she obviously no longer has the mind of a child, if she had one to begin with, and wishes there was some way to magically augment herself permanently, rather than a temporary illusion.

She also cultivated one hell of a crush into eventually full-on romantic love for Ikaris in the thousands of years she was on Earth. Can you blame her, just look at Richard Madden.

Image by DailyPioneer (Such a shame about that very Red Wedding he attended once…)

Ikaris’ love for Cersi and the fact she couldn’t become an adult kept her from confessing her feelings so she manages to be the Eternal that does her job on Earth most begrudgingly. Save for one.

Barry Keoghan’s Druig, if for nothing more than his power set and that he is portrayed by a guy that looks like he has an unremovable scowl, is interesting in that he is the eternal that you would expect most to take a villainous turn.

He has the ability to straight up mind control people, an ability that’s very easy to abuse. Keep in mind Druig has been around the block for twice as long since the time of Jesus. Perhaps it was his fellow Eternals that reined him in or some amount of nobility he has by nature, but Druig is the most critical Eternal when it comes to the mission statement preventing them from interfering in human matters.

The other Eternal who is especially beaten down by this “prime directive” is Phastos, who witnesses the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima. All the Eternals are certainly bothered to some extent by the heartlessness of this directive, but only Druig openly rebels against it. Knowing he can’t do much by himself, he becomes a recluse deep in the Amazon, living among other humans in a perfect community. His mental power makes sure everyone behaves.

While you can and probably are called to question Druig’s manner of “retirement” from the Eternals’ mission, his philosophy that questions the Celestials leads him to creating a resistance against their mission for Earth, especially when they learn why they are really there to begin with. Not all the Eternals fall in line with this revolt and the ones that resist the rebels are genuinely surprising, which does give the movie credit at actually being novel in ways that click.

I would talk more about the remaining Eternals, like Phastos( Brian Tyree Henry) with his happy gay family, Gilgamesh being Thena’s minder and Kingo’s (Kumail Nanjiani) awesome Bollywood career, but you know what, I haven’t the time really, much like this movie does not have the time to be what it is trying to be.

In the right framing, in the right format of storytelling, I genuinely believe that Eternals could be one of the MCU’s best installments, perhaps an expansion and evolution of what this long running cinematic universe can be. Visually, when the lighting isn’t obnoxiously low, it can be a beautifully different looking MCU film, another thing that is welcome within a universe that is attempting to stay in the spotlight for another decade.

But as I stated at the end of my thoughts on What-If, I do want to see more of the Eternals as the MCU pushes on. Why wouldn’t I, considering this section is all about lamenting lost potential. Perhaps when in unison with other MCU figures on their own adventures or given a new format to tell their story, the Eternals can succeed as new figures of this franchise.

What the Eternals accomplish at the end does suggest quite a ripple towards the narrative trajectory of the MCU and will be just as interesting when it is in concert with the developing multiverse plot. To say the Eternals debut appearance is unimportant would be a lie. But just because something is or might be important doesn’t always translate as good. The Eternals were striving within their limitations to make humanity grow, be better despite our self-destructive nature.

If they are to make us better, they must first make themselves grow, be better as well.

Next up: Maybe Arcane, maybe more 80s retrospective, I don’t really know yet.

Originally posted 2021-12-01 02:57:44.

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