It's safe to say that this 2021 film was always going to be different from the rest of the Marvel Studios library. Not only did the film introduce a huge ensemble of new characters, but those same characters were immortal and their story unfolded alongside that of Earth's history and the cosmic Celestials.
While the plot and its huge cast of new characters was a departure from typical MCU films, Eternals was unique for who was behind the camera and how their style translated on screen.
When the film debuted in November 2021, the reception was mixed with complaints ranging from its bloated plot and runtime to its lack of connections to the greater MCU.
Now, a year removed from its release, a Marvel star has opened up about the film's lackluster reception and his hopes moving forward for the franchise.
Kumail Nanjiana Addresses Eternals Reception
In talking with Josh Horowitz, Kumail Nanjiani, who played Kingo in Eternals, confessed that "it did bum [him] out that it was sort of divisive," but acknowledges that Eternals was "very different from most comic book movies:"
"I love Eternals. I think it's fantastic. It did bum me out that it was sort of divisive... Chloe [Zhao] made a very, very ambitious huge movie that's very different from most comic book movies, you know, she went for a really really high bar."
Eternals was directed by Academy Award-winning director Chloe Zhao, one of the only times that an MCU film has had a director that's achieved that level of critical success.
In addition to pitching the film to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, Zhao also brought her own signature visual style to Eternals, all while juggling a huge cast, comic book lore, multiple timelines, and massive cosmic beings.
Even though Eternals isn't at the top of most fans' Phase 4 films, Nanjiani remains optimistic, saying, "people are going to rewatch that movie and realize that there's a lot more to it:"
"Of course, it would've been great if every single person on earth loved it, but I love it. I still think at some point that people are going to rewatch that movie and realize that there's a lot more to it than they give it credit for. I love Chloe; she's such a great filmmaker."
Kingo's Crusade to Connect Eternals to the MCU
Now that the MCU's Phase 4 has come to a close and a year has passed since Eternals' release, it's fascinating to hear one of the film's stars be so candid.
Despite being so close to the project itself, he's aware that it was a big swing from both Marvel Studios and Chloe Zhao and says as much. Still, his hope that audiences will come to appreciate the film with time isn't just wishful thinking.
MCU films have been known to improve with time, especially once later films establish connections and new significance to those that came before.
In regard to these connections, Nanjiani's Kingo has been doing all of the heavy lifting so far in tying Eternals to the greater MCU.
For instance, in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, Kingo's movie posters were seen around the TCL Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.
A photo from the set of Loki Season 2 appears to feature its own Kingo poster as well, indicating that more of his hero will be on the way on the periphery of the MCU.
As for when audiences can expect an Eternals sequel or an actual cameo, that remains to be seen.
But in the meantime, it will be interesting to see if Kumail Nanjiani's prediction about Eternals will come true as the MCU moves forward into Phase 5.
Eternals is available to stream on Disney+.