When people talk about Marvel movies, what they tend to talk about is the ‘Marvel Formula,’ which is a way of saying that they’re very consistent in terms of their plots, story beats and visual presentation.
And on one level that’s fair, and on another it’s really lazy because ANY series of movies – or television shows, or whatever – follows a particular formula, ESPECIALLY IF THEY’RE SUCCESSFUL – and there’s no doubt that Marvel Studios have been successful.
Though there’s a problem, a fly in the ointment, a spanner in the works, if you will.
Namely, if the formula is fairly apparent to viewers what’s likely to happen is that they’re going to eventually become bored, and move on.
If Chloé Zhou’s Eternals shows us anything, it’s that Kevin Feige is well aware that the movies he and his executives produce are formulaic, and is seeking to have their cake and eat it too, in the sense that Eternals has the humor that’s typical of Marvel Studios movies but flirts with more inclusive politics and overt expressions of sexuality.
As result Eternals still feels like a Marvel Studios movie, dragging itself kicking and screaming into the modern day.
Though this tentativeness, the hesitancy to go all in is a bit niggling.
For instance, if you’re going to have two dudes kiss, make it at least look like they enjoy doing it, or don’t bother. Brian Tyree Henry (Phastos) to me looked pretty uncomfortable during the whole scene, while Haaz Suliman (Ben), who’s actually gay, just seems to be going along because ‘movie.’
Either come big, or stay home.
Such hesitancy applies with the sex scene between Ikaris (Richard Madden) and Sersi (Gemma Chan), who’s coupling wouldn’t be out of place in From Here to Eternity, which came out in 1953.
If I recall Eternals was rated R, which means that they might as well lean into the more adult aspects of the story because it’s not like the kiddies can see it – they likely will, though not at the theater (unless accompanied by an adult).
Other things that Eternals does, it tends to do really, really well though at some point Marvel Studios is going to have to venture into the world of adulthood with slightly less tentativeness, and a greater sense of self-assuredness.
Though this is a really good first step.