I’m a simple man. Whenever a trailer of any kind, even a teaser, gets released by Marvel Studios, I take notice. I’m not the only one, either. A trailer release by Marvel Studios is almost always cause for celebration and excitement. It shows on how often these trailers rack up record-breaking hits in a short span of time.
Even a trailer for lesser-known characters is bound to draw interest. Marvel Studios has proven before that they can turn obscure characters like the “Guardians of the Galaxy” into a multi-billion dollar franchise. Now, they hope to do the same with the “Eternals.”
Given their unprecedented track record of success, I wouldn’t bet against Kevin Feige and company. These visionaries have all more than earned our trust, as well as the benefit of the doubt. However, turning “Eternals” into a successful franchise will likely be even harder than “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
I say that as someone with a very shallow knowledge of Eternals. I like to think of myself as a pretty well-informed Marvel fan, but even I don’t know much about these characters. I’m aware of their basic history, but much of my interest is tied to how their story ties into that of mutants, albeit indirectly.
I suspect most causal fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are in a similar boat. They don’t know who these characters are. They’re nowhere near as iconic as Captain America, Iron Man, or Thor. However, they are showing up in the MCU, so we all take notice. We just have no idea what to expect, given the obscure nature of this franchise.
Well, a few days ago, we finally got our first glimpse when a teaser trailer for “Eternals” came out. Being a lifelong Marvel fan, it certainly made my day. In case you haven’t seen it, here it is.
Regardless of how you feel about the characters, it’s still a visual spectacle to behold. Marvel Studios always seems to fill their films with plenty of dazzling spectacles. It looks like “Eternals” is searching for a way to raise the bar once more and history says they will.
Beyond the spectacle, the trailer offers some hints as to what kind of story we’ll be getting with “Eternals.” In short, they’re a race of immortal humanoid beings who arrive in the distant past aboard a massive ship. This detail is ripped straight from the pages of the comics, as originally penned by Jack Kirby.
Beyond that, we learn that they’ve been living amongst humans for millennia. However, they’ve kept their distance, refusing to interfere or significantly impact human affairs. Then, something changes. Now, they’re ready to make their presence known to a world that is still recovering from the events of Thanos’ infamous snap.
That’s all very intriguing. I’m certainly curious to learn more. The cast is full of well-known stars like Selma Hayek and Angelina Jolie. The history of the MCU has already proven quite rich through other movies, like “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Ant Man.” This promises to broaden that history even more.
That’s certainly good from a storytelling perspective. However, seeing this trailer still leaves me with one burning question, which in turn raises other similar questions.
Why did these powerful beings wait so long to reveal themselves to the world?
That’s a relevant question and one that mutants will also face once the X-Men come to the MCU, as I’ve covered before in one of my YouTube videos. However, it’s even more relevant for the Eternals.
These are powerful, immortal beings with abilities that are nothing short of god-like. If this trailer is any indication, they’ve been around for the entire breadth of human history. That means they’ve witnessed every war, every plague, every disaster, and every collapse, of which there have been plenty.
Even in the context of the MCU, they’ve witnessed some pretty terrible events.
They watched the Chitari invade New York City.
They saw Dormammu attempt to absorb the Earth into the Dark Dimension.
They watched Ultron nearly end the world.
They watched the Avenger try and fail to stop Thanos.
They may even be aware of a Skrull infiltration that began during the events of “Captain Marvel.”
They’re aware of all of this, but still chose not to get involved. Is it wrong to ask for a legitimate reason? Is it wrong to pre-judge them for having so much inherent power and not using it to stop terrible event?
Never mind the events that shaped world history. If they could’ve made a difference in the battle against Thanos and Ultron, then why didn’t that? What’s their reason for staying hidden? In the comics, their primary reason centers around protecting Earth from the nefarious Deviants. However, even the comics don’t offer much insight into why they just stand aside and let other catastrophic events occur.
It raises a larger question that the MCU will have to grapple with, which often gets overlooked in the comics. In a world where powerful beings like this exist, does their inaction constitute an egregious act? If they could’ve stopped Thanos, then does their decision to stay hidden warrant criticism?
It’s a difficult question and one that comes up much more frequently in DC Comics. On more than one occasion, Superman has been criticized for not helping humanity on a larger scale. It’s very much a common trope and one that gets increasingly difficult to address as a shared universe grows.
Like I said earlier, Marvel Studios has a stellar track record with telling great stories that at least partially address these questions. I sincerely hope that track record continues with “Eternals.” I also hope it’s more serious in asking the bigger questions about what it means to have power and be a respectable hero.
The Avengers who assembled to defeat Thanos were all powerful in their own right. Together, they are a force that can battle god-like threats and win. At the same time, they all have major limitations. The Eternals have limitations as well, but they’re unique in just how present they’ve been for the extent of human history.
In that sense, they have a greater responsibility than even someone like Spider-Man or Thor. If they’ve been present for so many terrible events, but chose to do nothing, then what do we make of them? How do they become heroes in that context? I don’t claim to know the answer. I just look forward to seeing this movie and finding out for myself.