There’s a lot going on throughout the 157-minute running time of Eternals, a little too much based on some of the reviews, which hits a number of plot and character beats that we haven’t come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As well as featuring the franchise’s first-ever sex scene and strongest LGBTQ+ representation to date, it’s also a millennia-spanning intergalactic epic with heavy science fiction elements, shades of sweeping historical drama and of course, the standard trappings of a mega budget comic book blockbuster.
Throwing even more genres into the mix, director Chloé Zhao admitted in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that she treated some narrative threads as similar to a coming-of-age story, specifically likening the arc of Gemma Chan’s Sersi to that of Timothee Chalamet’s Paul Atreides in Denis Villenueve’s Dune.
“Paul’s journey is not just coming of age and now everything is fine. He’s about to step into a very morally complex role, and so is Sersi, not to spoil the film. It is complicated. The type of hero she has to become is not that black and white in terms of morals.”
Zhao has been name-dropping Dune quite regularly during the press circuit for Eternals, along with other titles including Man of Steel and Interstellar, although Villenueve hasn’t yet showered her in similar praise to that which he somewhat ironically seems to be reserving solely for Interstellar‘s Christopher Nolan. It’s been a good year for fans of existential and thought-provoking sci-fi cinema, even if critics were much more enamored by Dune than they were with the 26th installment in the MCU.