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Eternals - Movie Review

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

As with all movies on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete synopsis of the film, but rather to document how the movie relates to the meaning of life. With that said, be forewarned, there are still spoilers ahead.


The Marvel Eternals movie was released in 2021 and was directed by Chloé Zhao. A number of high profile actors and actresses also started in the film, e.g., Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Ma Dong-seok, etc.

The basic premise of the film is that ten super-heroes known as the Eternals are sent to Earth around 5000 B.C. to fight creatures that consume intelligent beings known as the Deviants. The Deviants were created by a Celestial named Arishem, in order to rid new worlds of apex predators that would prevent intelligent life from evolving. However, the Deviants began to evolve themselves and started to chow down on intelligent life out of self-preservation. You see, the Celestials are a race of beings that create new worlds and prevent the universe from dying from from an entropic death. However, a Celestial can only be born once a world's population hits a certain limit, killing all life on the planet. The Deviants' dietary change was a response to their need for self-preservation—the need to survive, and not wanting planets to hit the population limit that would trigger the birth of a Celestial and the destruction of all life on that planet. To counter the Deviants, Arishem created the Eternals, which were incapable of evolving.


Once the Eternals believed that all of the Deviants had been killed, they don't have much to do, and they no longer have a clear purpose. For thousands of years, their purpose was to hunt down and kill any Deviants, protecting the human race, but otherwise not to interfere with their social and physical evolution. The Eternals leader, Ajak, tells them to go out into the world, do what they want, find their purpose. In her words:


You are free to go. I want you to go out there. And live life for yourselves. Not as soldiers. Not with the purpose you were given. Find your own purpose. And one day, when we see each other again, I want you to tell me what you found.


Some of the Eternals resort to living normal lives, one pair finds love—and love lost, one become movie starts, one starts a family, some withdraw from the world completely.


When the Eternals learn that they aren't there to save the human race, rather to just keep the human race alive long enough for a new Celestial to harvest them, a few of them start having a change of heart about their given purpose. Having experienced free will, having lived relatively normal lives and having watched humans mature over the years, most of them band together to stop the Celestial from being born. However, a couple of them do not, and revert to their original purpose, which results in a fight amongst the group.


In terms meaning and purpose—given vs. free will, it is interesting to see what the characters do with their lives after they no longer have a given purpose to fulfill. Unfortunately, there are ten Eternals, and we get only a very shallow view of their lives. But, the purposes they do decide for themselves, are pretty humanlike, even though they could be gods on Earth.


Disney has also explored the concepts of meaning and purpose in movies such as Thor: Love and Thunder, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Soul.


Here is our rating:


Overall – 7

Meaning of Life Relevance – 4

Uniqueness - 5


If you saw the movie, let us know what you thought, what we missed, by commenting below.


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