The Eternals divided critics and fans like no other movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But was it really the worst MCU movie? In this video, we explore the movie’s many complex themes about creation, motherhood, evolution, and its many Biblical parallels.
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Written and Hosted by Ryan Arey (http://twitter.com/ryanarey)
Edited by Harriet Lengel-Enright and Randolf Nombrado
The Eternals has finally been released, after a year of delays. And all the discourse seems to be about the rotten tomatoes score, the box office receipts, and which country banned the film for which reason. But I think it’s time we all slow down, take a break from the discourse, and ponder the intention beyond Chloe Zhao’s mediation on time and motherhood.
It’s time for us to take a step back and ask, what’s the point of the Eternals?
The film begins with the words, in the beginning, also the opening words to the Bible, book of genesis. The book is about God creating the universe, the heavens, the earth, animals, and the garden of eden. It’s also a book filled with the destruction of the world through the blood, and numerous cities falling to the wrath of god, as punishment for the sins of mankind.
So by beginning this movie with text on screen that reads “In the beginning,” Chloe Zhao is telling us that this is a Biblical movie…that will revisit the same themes as the book of Genesis.
The very first shot is of the sun, the source of life in our solar system. This is why, in the Bible, God’s first act of creation was to say, “let there be light.” It’s very possible that the celestials made this star, that we are looking into their original furnace of creation.
Arishem tells Sersei that without the celestials, the universe would fall into darkness. It is correct that the universe is spiraling toward eternal darkness. The universe will fall in entropy, as every atom is slowly pulled apart so far that no energy will be produced. This is the darkness which these gods spoke light into. Without them guiding the universe’s energy, the universe’s atoms will separate until everything is in darkness.
The movie begins with the orb coming out of the Arishem statue and entering Ajak, who them awakens the other Eternals. This is like Michaelangelo’s portrait of God granting Adam life. It takes a single touch from God to create sentience.
The movie also occurs over 7 days, just like the world was made in six days, and God rested on the seventh. But there is a twist to this. The movie is not about the celestials creating the world in 7 days, it’s about the eternals creating a new world in 7 days. A world where humankind is freed from celestial inference, where they become the new gods of humanity.
In the Book of Genesis, after God creates the Garden of Eden, a paradise where Adam and Eve can live. I’ve always seen this garden as a metaphor for childhood. We’re born innocent, we’re not aware of our nakedness. But then as we eat from our own personal tree of knowledge, we are aware of our nakedness, and eventually have to leave the Garden–our childhood homes.
The Eternals also experience their own Garden of Eden, in Mesopotamia the cradle of civilization. As humanity begins to thrive, their potential seems limitless. The Eternals are optimistic about their future, and excited to help them.
Sersei and Ikarus fall in love, and they are naked together–just like Adam and eve. Sersei even has the gift of creation. She makes water to help the crops grow, and can create animals out of thin air. This Is likely why she was chosen as the point of view character for the movie. Her powers–like the movie–are about creating new life.
When Ikarus and Sersei meet, they are pure, blank slates. They only know their names–much like when Eve met Adam in the garden. [clip from a greatest adventures stories from the bible cartoon] So the two of them are perfect metaphors for Adam and Eve. The father and mother of humanity.
But the story of creation has a tragic ending, the fall of man. In the bible, Eve eats from the tree of knowledge, persuades Adam to the same, effectively rebelling against their creator–their god.
In the Eternals, it’s Ajak, the mother figure of the Eternals, who is this Eve figure. The woman who leads her fellow creations into rebellion against their God. Later she passes this onto another mother proxy–Sersei–who becomes the new leader of this rebellion against god.
But it’s not quite right to compare the Eternals to humans. They’re more like angels, divine servants of god’s will who interfere in the lives of humans. Whereas the deviants are more like the demons and monsters from myth and lore.