Marvel had been on a 25-movie streak of good reviews, and you might’ve thought that streak was as inevitable as Thanos. But the critics have spoken about the new film Eternals, and now more than Thanos has snapped. Eternals has dipped below the 60% Fresh mark on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, becoming the first flick in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to earn the dreaded green splat.
Rotten Tomatoes is a far-from-perfect website, though it’s influential enough that even people who hate it have to reckon with its scores. It sets 60% as the red line between fresh and rotten, and as of this writing, Chloé Zhao’s Eternals sits at 57%, far below the previous worst-reviewed MCU entries The Incredible Hulk (67% fresh) and Thor: The Dark World (66% fresh).
Eternals boasted an Avengers-sized super-cast but without The Avengers buildup or backstory. Instead, it pinballs between exposition and action, making two hours and 37 minutes feel simultaneously too long and too short. In his ‘C’ review, our own Ben Kaye wrote,
“There are too many questions left in the yawning holes of exposition here to make a satisfying movie, let alone a fully fun Marvel flick. Zhao does what she does best, but it doesn’t work for this story. Why focus on the intimate relationships between 10 super-beings when the reasons behind their desire to save a race they’ve largely hid from for millennia is far more engrossing? Saved from bottom-of-the-pile MCU status by a handful of strong choices, plus final and post-credits scenes that — amazingly — line up a potentially exciting sequel, Eternals is a rare case of its parts not equalling a Marvelous sum.”
Of course, Eternals sets up at least one sequel and fits into Marvel’s broader Phase Four plans, so many diehards will see it anyway. And despite this hiccup, there’s plenty of exciting superhero content headed for this multiverse. Spider-Man: No Way Home swings into theaters December 17th, and that will be followed in 2022 by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.