Chloe Zhao’s long-awaited Eternals arrives in theaters tomorrow, though under something of a cloud. This is the first MCU movie to be rated ‘Rotten’ on the Tomatometer, currently sitting at 53% and sinking lower by the day. Common complaints are that there are too many characters, too much exposition and that the Deviant enemies are a bit boring.
But as always, the proof will be in the pudding and the critics do sometimes get it very wrong (*cough* Venom). One thing those who’ve seen it seem to agree on is that it’s a big departure from usual MCU fare. That’s for a variety of stylistic and tonal reasons, though one novel element is that Eternals contains a bona fide sex scene.
The MCU is usually an extremely chaste affair, generally avoiding even kissing during its movies. Now Zhao herself has revealed she questioned whether it should be in the movie. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she said:
“We knew that to tell a mature love story, a love story that spans thousands of years, to not do any kind of intimate scene felt unnatural to me. And everyone was on the same page. Once we filmed it and edited it together, we did show some folks to see their reactions. And everyone, Disney as well, said, ‘That is a beautiful display of love,’ [regarding] the way our actors played it together and the way it fit into the mood and where it is in the film. So everyone was like, ‘Let’s do it!’ If anything, I was the one who was like, ‘Is it okay? Can we do this?’ But everyone was supportive of that.”
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We’ll find out very soon whether Eternals will overcome the negativity, or if it’ll become the MCU’s first flop. I’m hoping it succeeds, as Zhao explains in the interview that Marvel let her make her own movie without being constrained by the house style.
It’s difficult to deny that MCU movies can look quite similar, so even if Eternals proves a financial and critical disappointment, I hope they continue to give directors more freedom to create the movies they want.
Eternals hits theaters on November 5.