Marvel Studios Expected This 1 MCU Flop to Be a Big Hit, Reveals Actor

By David Thompson Posted:
Marvel Studios logo, avengers characters in background

One new MCU star said his time working on this Phase 4 project led to "trauma" thanks to the negative reviews of its release.

Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani, who portrayed Kingo in the film, was recently on the Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum podcast.

Before diving into his negative experiences surrounding the film's release, Nanjiani assured Rosenbaum he is "very proud of" Eternals and is "proud of everyone’s work in it:"

"I love that movie. I’m very proud of that movie. I’m proud of everyone’s work in it and I’m proud of my work in it. And I’ve seen that movie a bunch of times because it’s like my kind of movie."

Then the actor looked back on the experience of promoting Eternals, mentioning how "Marvel thought [Eternals] was going to be like really, really well-reviewed" which led to an early review embargo and the cast going on "a big global tour:"

"It was really, really hard because Marvel thought that movie was going to be like really, really well-reviewed and so they lifted the embargo really early and they also put it in some fancy movie festivals and they sent us on a big global tour promoting the movie right as the embargo was lifted."

Marvel Studios released Eternals - directed by Academy Award winner Chloé Zhao and starring the likes of Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, and many more big names - with the intention of building a superhero ensemble that felt unique from its Avengers counterpart.

Expectations were high given the esteem around the creators and talent. There was even buzz that it could be nominated for an Academy Award.

Ultimately, Eternals was a failure, not one of the worst comic book movies ever made, but a letdown that earned a 47% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes

As Nanjiani describes it, they set out to "travel the world" expecting "a wave of raves" but everyone quickly realized "the reviews were really bad:"

"And so we had to sort of like travel the world while they thought we’d be going on a wave of raves and it wasn’t true. It just sort of was  — the reviews were really bad."

Rosenbaum asked Nanjiani if he was aware of it while on tour, which he was. The actor said he "was reading every review" and he expected this to be a "coming out party" following the COVID-19 pandemic:

"I was reading every review. I was checking too much because this thing had become too much in my head. This was also right after the pandemic you know? So we’re coming out after this crazy thing and I’m like 'Ok this is going to be the coming out party. I worked too hard for this.'"

While Nanjiani did not specifically mention Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos (the first gay MCU hero), the actor did say, "There was some weird soup in the atmosphere" for the terrible reviews and he does not think it had "to do with the actual quality of the movie:"

"I think that there was some weird soup in the atmosphere for why that movie got slammed so much. And I think not very much of it has to do with the actual quality of the movie."

Eternals was notably review-bombed on IMDB for its inclusion of a gay kiss and LGBTQIA+ representation in the film.

Following the tour and overall experience, Nanjiani decided that he "can’t approach [his] work this way anymore. Some shit’s got to change."

In addition, he began counseling "very intentionally," and he still talks to his therapist about his Eternals experience:

"And so, very intentionally, I did start counseling — I still talk to my therapist about that."

Nanjiani also mentioned that he does have "trauma" from the Eternals experience, confirmed by his wife Emily V. Gordon:

"Emily says that — that I do have trauma from it." 

He shares this experience with his fellow cast members. Nanjiani mentioned a recent dinner he was at with a co-star, possibly Barry Keoghan, and how he "went through something kinda similar:"

"Actually, Emily and I just got dinner with someone else from that movie and we were like 'Man, that was tough wasn’t it?' He’s like, 'Yeah that was really tough.' I think we went through something kinda similar and then this guy that I’m talking about is like truly one of the best actors of our generation and has been nominated for an Oscar since then."

This unpleasant experience with Eternals brought Nanjiani clarity for the future. He told Rosenbaum that he "realized that [he] can’t be so results-based in [his] work anymore because [he] can’t really control it:"

"So I realized that I can’t be so results-based in my work anymore because I can’t really control it. I can control my experience. I can control how I am to the people around me. I can control where I learn from it. I can control how I work. I can’t control what people are going to think of it."

Will Kingo Have a Future in the MCU?

This revealing interview of how the negative experiences related to promoting Eternals affected Kumail Nanjiani does lend well to Kingo returning in live-action to the MCU.

The character was briefly seen in Loki Season 2, but that did not involve Nanjiani returning to reprise his role.

The actor expressed uncertainty about Kingo's return to the MCU back in 2022, stating he is "completely in the dark" about it. 

However, he conveyed excitement for the direction of the franchise, particularly praising the complexity and entertainment value of the new Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Despite his enthusiasm to potentially return, Nanjiani admitted he has no insight into when that might occur.

Nanjiani previously refuted Patton Oswalt's statement about Eternals 2 being announced, suggesting Oswalt might have been misled by a hoax website.

None of the Eternals have been seen on screen since their team-up movie and there doesn't seem to be a sequel in the works. Unfortunately, the poor reception and lackluster box office results from Eternals may keep them out of the MCU going forward.

Eternals is now streaming on Disney+.

- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.