Eternals was supposed to be one of the major productions that would help usher in this newest phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The plan for the sweeping, epic (ish) film was to have it introduce a whole host of new characters in one fell swoop and bring on a divergent storyline into what was already a pretty crowded group of characters. It hasn’t exactly been the hit Marvel and company were expecting, with critics taking it to task for a number of different failings. And now, one producer for the film thinks they know why. Victoria Alonso, who’s worked on a ton of different Marvel productions, thinks the poor reviews for the movie are coming because critics didn’t appreciate the diversity, or the relationships, in the film.
Alonso was speaking at the Outfest Legacy Awards (via WeGotThisCovered) and had some pointed remarks for critics specifically when it came to how they received the film. She was speaking, in part, about how Eternals has been something of a critical mess where Marvel is concerned. On the movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Eternals is currently sitting at 47%, easily the lowest score of any Marvel movie, almost 20 points lower than the next-closest film, Thor: The Dark World (67%). Alonso hinted that the problem critics had with Eternals was that it was too diverse of a film and that struck the wrong critical cord. Take a look at what she said:
We have tried to stir it up and sometimes the critics are not with us. That’s OK. That’s OK. We thank you for being a critic. We thank you for writing about us. And the fans will decide. Diversity and inclusion is not a political game for us. It is 100 percent a responsibility because you don’t get to have the global success that we have given the Walt Disney Company without the support of people around the world of every kind of human there is.
While it appears that Alonso is insinuating that critics weren’t having it with Eternals because there was too much diversity and inclusion, she also, at least in these comments, doesn’t provide much of a basis for why she thinks this is the case. For their part, this aspect of the movies wasn’t mentioned much in why critics, as a group, scored the movie so low. In fact, for many reviews, the actual cast had very little to do with the negativity. Instead, they blamed a number of different other factors for why Chloe Zhao’s film struggled on the big screen.
At more than 2.5 hours, Eternals is the second-longest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe behind only Avengers: Endgame which used its time to wrap up years’ worth of storylines. Additonally, Eternals did something that other Marvel movies have generally avoided: introducing an entire batch of new characters in one shot, asking viewers to care about a ton of few folks who aren’t even all that popular in the comic book world as it is. Most agreed that cinematographically, it was a visually appealing experience with Zhao clearly having a sense of vision. But it was the story that became convoluted, messy, and just kind of boring. If anything, critics were mostly positive on the casting too, appreciating that the new faces in the universe were from all different walks.
Though Alonso seems to think it is the case, the critical reception to Eternals doesn’t seem to be based on the film’s diversity. And, for their part, the overall audience didn’t rate it as low with the Rotten Tomato Audience Score sitting at 80%. That is about the middle of the pack as far as Marvel is concerned. And the box office returns are going to probably end up missing the mark as well. It’s currently earned a little over $280 million which is about $150 million short of the post-pandemic comp Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings which took in about $430 million. In all, it would seem like a confluence of factors is leading Eternals to such low marks.