Newest MCU Release Charts New Territory

The release of Marvel’s “Eternals” on Disney Plus makes the film available for a plethora of people who didn’t have the opportunity to watch it in theaters. This will undoubtedly leave the movie vulnerable to countless discussions on both the debatable importance of its presence in the MCU and how it compares to previous superhero stories done by Marvel. However one aspect of the movie that needs to be acknowledged above all else is the diversity it brings to the table.

Director Chloé Zhao takes on the challenge of introducing fans to nearly a dozen new superheroes, known as the Eternals, immortal beings that were sent to Earth to kill creatures called “deviants” over seven thousand years ago. Viewers first meet the heroes present day, set after the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” as they are reunited in the face of more deviant attacks, despite believing they had killed all the creatures present on Earth centuries ago.

If the Marvel fan base has proven one thing in the past, it’s that the majority of them do not take well to newcomers, see for example Captain Marvel. Characters like Iron Man, Captain America and Black Widow, dubbed the “Original Six,” grew so popular that it can be hard for some to accept seeing fresh faces on the screen. However, as the world changes and evolves, so too must the MCU. “Eternals” is just the beginning, as the upcoming Phase Five promises many new origin stories for heroes only seen before in comics. 

Despite its flaws, “Eternals” does not deserve the criticism it has been receiving, claiming the movie was rushed and confusing. Zhao does an immensely impressive job of telling a story that not only spans centuries, but empires as well. The Eternals have used their abilities across the world, including Babylon and Olympia, each with unique culture and traditions to demonstrate the time period. The special effects were some of the best Marvel has ever done, including mesmerizing scenes displaying the Eternals creator, Arishem, a Celestial being that manipulates energy and matter at whim. 

A remarkable cast backs up this movie, with Salma Hayek playing Ajak, the prime Eternal, Angelina Jolie playing Thena, Richard Madden playing Ikaris, Gemma Chan playing Sersi and many more. Not only are these characters flawed in ways that are undoubtedly human, giving the audience something to relate to even amongst immortal beings, but they also push the MCU into diverse new territory. The cast features Asian, Indian, Mexican and Black actors, along with representation that goes beyond race. Makkari, resident speedster, is the first deaf superhero in Marvel history, played by Lauren Ridloff, who is also deaf. Her character uses sign language throughout the movie, which also provides the opportunity for the team to communicate with each other the same way. Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry, uses his powers of energy manipulation to invent valuable technology for humans throughout history. When reintroduced midway through the film, he is shown living with his husband and their son. This makes Phastos one of the first MCU superheroes to be confirmed as gay, and the first one to share an onscreen kiss with their partner. 

“Eternals” not only has far more representation than previous films, it gives power to these characters, it doesn’t push them to the side to be easily forgotten. Makkari and Phastos each have respective scenes where they dominate in a fight against the common enemy. In the minds of these characters, who have lived countless lifetimes over so many centuries, something like sexuality is of little importance, it doesn’t change who someone is or what they are capable of. This movie challenges the idea of what a superhero can look like, and has a lot of potential moving forward. Sure, it may not be liked by those who find comfort in tradition — but who said new is supposed to be comfortable?