the eternals: what are they?

by joebortner

My name is Joe, and I don’t really like most Marvel movies, but I do watch all of them because I’m in something of a toxic relationship with the Disney megacorporation. You see, I’m an old-fashioned comic book nerd; A combination of misplaced optimism and pathetic brand loyalty have kept me coming back to the theaters for each and every one of these things–even though I’m pretty sure by now that I won’t like them. That said, I made the decision to not see Marvel’s new “Eternals” movie last week. However, that’s only because it came out this week. 

Five months ago, when the first trailer for this film came out, I had a lot of friends and associates texting me–“Joe!–You’re a dweeb. Who are the Eternals? Why is Kit Harington in it?” Naturally, as someone desperate for validation, I dutifully answered their questions. Today, I’m here to answer yours–probably with some degree of inaccuracy. I haven’t seen the “Eternals” movie, but I have read exactly eight issues of “Eternals” comic books–that’s like 160 pages! That’s more “Eternals” comic books than most people will ever read! I’ve spent more time thinking about “Eternals” comics than most people spend thinking about municipal elections!

Who are the Eternals?

Well, that’s a slightly complicated question. In the real world, the Eternals were created by a comic book artist named Jack Kirby. The long and short of it is that nobody really read the Eternals comic books, including me (I was not alive in 1976, 1977, or 1978). The series was cancelled after only 19 monthly issues, but the characters would go on to make infrequent appearances in other comic books for the next 43 years.

In fiction-land, however, the Eternals are a group of immortal people, created millions of years ago by robot-looking space gods. Their purpose is to protect the Earth, usually from mutated monster-like people called Deviants–an offshoot species of the Eternals themselves. The whole thing has an uncomfortable whiff of eugenics, if you ask me. There’s a lot of very silly (and sometimes cool, IMO) comic book lore nonsense stacked on top of it, but that’s the gist. 

The most famous (AMONG DORKS) “Eternals” character is Sersi, who is played by Gemma Chan in the new movie. In my opinion, she’s probably the most popular because she typically wears green. I don’t know about you, but green is probably my favorite color. 

Why is Kit Harington in it?

Marvel Studios’ casting director is named Sarah Finn, and I think she generally does a pretty good job (outside of Chris Pratt, of course). My theory is that she probably cast Kit Harington in this movie because he was on “Game of Thrones.” People really like “Game of Thrones!” I think that was probably the extent of her thought process.

I’ve actually never really seen much of “Game of Thrones.” I have, however, seen the final episode. My friends (some of whom asked me questions about the “Eternals” trailer five months ago) seemed disappointed with it, but I didn’t know anything about “Game of Thrones”–so I thought it was a pretty good time. 

I Heard Harry Styles is in This Movie?

He is, according to internet movie blogs with website titles that give me secondhand embarrassment. People that we’ll generously dignify with the term “reporters” are saying Mr. Styles is playing Thanos’ brother, who is named “Starfox”. I don’t like Starfox! I don’t really care enough to talk about him. I probably like the comic book character Starfox even less than I like the unrelated Nintendo game “Starfox” (and I do not like the unrelated Nintendo game “Starfox”). 

Are You Okay? Why Are You Telling Me This?

In 2019, I went to watch the “Game of Thrones” finale at my friend’s house. I had a good time. This was during my last year of high school. Weeks earlier, I had seen “Avengers: Endgame” on opening night, sitting in the front row of the local AMC with seven friends and two tubs of popcorn between us. I had a great time.

The Sunday after I watched the “Game of Thrones” finale at my friend’s house, I went to see “Avengers: Endgame” again at the AMC in Boston. This time, I went with only two friends. This time, the theater wasn’t as nice and the projector temporarily stopped working halfway through. This time, I realized that a movie I had previously thought was great was merely fine.

The next week, I graduated high school. Three months later, I went to college. Five months after that, the Coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, and I went home to Massachusetts. I stayed there for the next ten months. Eventually, I returned to college, but I wasn’t the same person anymore. I certainly didn’t like Marvel movies anymore. 

Sometimes you have things that you think you really like, but then you grow up and realize that they’re actually cynical arms of a military propaganda machine. I think some part of me jealously wants everyone else to experience what I experienced with these movies. Maybe I just like being the guy who “actually reads the books, bro.” Deep down, I know this impulse is unhelpful. If you go to see Marvel’s Eternals movie this weekend, I hope you have a good time. Deep down, I hope that I do, too.

Categories: joe bortner, nov. 9, review, vol 25

%d bloggers like this: