There's a lot that can be said about Marvel Studios' Eternals.
In addition to being the third film of Marvel's Phase 4, Eternals features a diverse, all-star cast, an Academy Award-winning director, covers thousands of years of history, and features a whopping ten new heroes with cosmic origins. To sum it all up, Eternals is ambitious.
Unfortunately, what is actually being said about Eternals just ahead of its theatrical release is less impressive.
In addition to being targeted by review bombers, Marvel's newest film has received mixed reviews and recently became the first MCU film to receive a "rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes. Amidst this negative press and on the verge of the film's theatrical release, Eternals director Chloe Zhao has taken to social media to share some words of her own.
Eternals' Chloe Zhao "Grateful" Despite Poor Reviews
On the eve of Eternals' domestic release, Chloe Zhao posted a new Eternals poster on Instagram while also expressing that she's "eternally grateful" to Marvel Studios, those involved with the film, and Marvel fans.
Her caption reads as follows:
"Tomorrow we give our love child to the world. I love her so much. To my little family at marvel studios, and our cast, crew and everyone who helped us give birth to her, to our wonderful fans and to all the curious souls around the world that await her, I’m eternally grateful."
Unlike most Marvel films, except for James Gunn and possibly the Russo Brothers, Zhao has been just as central to the film's marketing as its cast, as much of the story and its aesthetic are distinctly hers.
Zhao's message comes shared amidst continual poor reviews and reception. In the days following Eternals receiving a "rotten" score of 59%, the film dropped to its current score of 53% with an updated critic consensus that's slightly more negative, describing the films as "occasionally confounding - new directions:"
"An ambitious superhero epic that soars as often as it strains, Eternals takes the MCU in intriguing -- and occasionally confounding -- new directions..."
The Good, The Bad, and The Why
From what audiences know of Eternals, it's a film about love and humanity; and Zhao's Instagram post certainly embodies those central themes and supports the idea that - despite being part of a blockbuster franchise - Eternals was a passion project for the Oscar-winning director.
However, negative press ahead of the film's release is never what a studio or its creators want, especially if its ambitiousness is, in fact, its problem.
Eternals was always going to be a different kind of story, but Marvel fans buy a ticket to an MCU film expecting two: the first story is what concerns the characters on screen at that moment, while the second is that of Marvel's overarching Phase 4.
If Eternals fails to sell its own tale, fans may equally struggle with too much of a new thing and how it fits into the current MCU jigsaw puzzle.
Still, most audiences have yet to see Marvel's latest epic; and if received well by general audiences, those ratings could quickly swing the other way. For instance, Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was plagued with poor projections ahead of its release and was even labeled as a flop before it went on to break box office records.
In addition, while some credit the Eternals' large cast as a potential problem, it could actually work to the film's benefit in that every member of the audience is sure to find a character to connect with due to its diversity.
Finally, theatrical attendance and box office numbers are in a much better place than they were several months prior; and the fact that Marvel fans flocked to Venom: Let There Be Carnage for its post-credits scenes should bode well for Zhao's Eternals.
Eternals opens in theaters on November 5, 2021.