WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Eternals, now in theaters.
Marvel’s Eternals is probably one of the more ambitious film outings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It focuses on building up rich mythology and exploring concepts far deeper than the MCU has ever been willing to go. And on top of that, there is a very large cast of characters, each with their own history and viewpoints that make them interesting to follow. However, all these intriguing elements are impeded by one simple problem -- the film’s runtime, which clocks in at 2 hours and 37 minutes, is not enough time to explore all of the concepts and themes the film is trying to present.
This is one theory as to why the reception for Eternals has been middling for many critics. With so much going on in the plot, this feature-length film, which was already on the long side, does not allow the story and its characters any room to breathe. While a simple solution to this problem would have been to cut down certain plot points and remove certain characters, doing so could have easily caused the film to lose its authenticity. However, there is a way in which a story like Eternals could have thrived without sacrificing its unique nature, although it would have required a completely different medium to do so.
Over the past year, Marvel Studios has found plenty of success with its Disney+ television shows, with some even earning critical acclaim. Series such as Loki and WandaVision have flourished, due in large part to not being confined by the limitations of a theatrical blockbuster. The episodic format allows for more chances to explore different concepts and ideas while also giving important characters the development they need. Had Eternals been given the same opportunity, it could have had the potential of being a lot more successful.
Making Eternals a television show rather than a movie would have given it the chance to delve into its many rich concepts. Plot points, such as Sersi and Ikaris’s past relationship or Thena’s struggle with her psychological condition, could have been explored more thoroughly. It would have also given the filmmakers a chance to flesh out the history and mythology of the celestials and deviants, which would have allowed viewers to better understand the conflicts and stakes that the characters were up against.
While such a change would not necessarily guarantee success for Eternals, it would have at least improved the plot without sacrificing its larger-than-life story. There is a chance that an Eternals spin-off could be made somewhere down the line, but the fact that the film wasn’t a show to begin with seems like a missed opportunity.
To see how Eternals bites off more than it can chew, the film is in theaters now.
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