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The Undertone of Misogyny: Marvel’s Eternals

DISCLAIMER: This article is an opinion editorial piece based on the author’s opinion on another opinion piece done by The New York Post. Original op-ed piece from the New York Post is linked here.

With the release of the new Marvel film, Eternals, that came out in theaters on November 6th, an uproar on the critique of the film was expected. Every film after the other is always expected to hit big, just as people expect a sequel to be a better version of the first film in a series.

Popularity

Although Spider-Man: Far From Home and Black Widow did not hit as big as Black Panther, both films did a spectacular job of keeping the fanbase interested and in the loop of Marvel’s plotline.

It’s almost impossible for any other Marvel film to top Endgame, especially with the knowledge that the actors who play Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Widow will no longer be present in any future films (excluding Black Widow which takes place before Endgame).

Expectations

Walking in with high hopes for any Marvel film is a top-notch game to compete in, and Eternals was no exception. The moment the pre-film was shown to early viewers, film critics ran straight to their publications to write up their reports. And, although not high hopes were held out for Eternals, the reviews did not hold back with their judgment.

Many magazine publications shared a similar critic on Eternals. On Rotten Tomatoes, Eternals has been rated one of the lowest ratings of all Marvel films. Many of these reviews came in before the actual film was released to theaters, as many fans have access to a prerelease screening of the film.

However, there has been a good number of sales at the box office despite these not-so-positive reviews. Why is this? On the contrary, fans seemed to enjoy the film. So, is it just the critics?

CRITIQUE OR JUDGEMENT?

As a Marvel fan who grew up watching all the films, I understand that some films aren’t as good as the originals. Some are more brutal while others are more humorous, and some are missing important highlights of their heroes. Personally, I believe that Eternals had a great plot with an amazing concept; delivery was just not as impactful.

The situation with Oleksinki’s review on the New York Post isn’t the actual critic of Eternals. The problem is in which the tone in the review steps away from criticizing the actual film and judges the actors more than their characters.

Distinction of Actor from Character

In the review, Oleksinki started by mentioning that Eternals wasn’t all that great with characters who were bland. While finding characters not interesting in any film is a fair critique to make, stating that the leader of the group, Ajak (played by Salem Hayek) is too serious and is not “Salem Hayeky” enough is an old steretypical comment in the book.

For as long as misogny and sexism has been a term in the dictionary, the expectation of women appearing soft and delicate has been held to the highest power.

How many times have we, women, been told to smile? And when there’s any slightest inconvenience where we are blunt or even feel disrespectful that we try to set boundaries, we are told that we are psychotic for being rude and erratic.

Saying that a character who is supposed to be the head of the pact and keep the other Eternals in check, especially in the film, it is revealed that Ajak was keeping secrets given by the Celestials, their creators, that she kept from the other Eternals. In stating that this was not “funny” enough is a derogatory comment directed to Salem Kayek.

expectations for women

This expectation of women appearing as generous and heart-warming always smiling care-givers goes for the writer’s comment on Angelina Jolie’s character as well. Stating that character doesn’t have much personality based on their lack of emotions is one thing. Saying that a character isn’t bubbly and fierce as the actress appears is another.

Angelina Jolie also played a character (Thena) who easily lost control of who she was and was forced to forget who she was to not go on a murderous spree, the last thing she’s going to do is smile while holding a home-cooked meal. As a matter of fact, Thena’s husband (Gilgamesh) played the role of a strong man (who’s literal power was strength) with a personality that wcontrasted his masculine energy.

Gilgamesh’s priority on taking care of Thena and moving them to Australia where she can find inner peace with Thena’s dark goddess looks and dangerous aura made them a perfect match. The dynamic between them also broke down stereotypes of a couple dynamic between the dominant man and tender woman.

being educated on characters’ and actors’ background

The comments made about Angelina Jolie’s character being as creative as a bar of soap, and Gemma Chan’s character not having more than one facial expression, aren’t the only ones that point to a hidden sexist take. In an email exchange talking about the film (with the article linked here), two critics wrote off a brief description of the Eternals characters as “…one is a mute, another one is forever a teenager, another one is black and overweight and gay…another one is mentally unstable.”

Only making note of Brian Tyree Henry’s race and weight and tying it in with the fact that his character was married to another man covers many levels of discrimination.

When presenting diversity among the cast, it’s important to make note that there is diversity in race, culture, sexuality, gender, and disabilities.

Brian Henry’s character has an intellect power to master physiology from his mind who had the opportunity to discover who he was and find love at some point in his billion years of living–-anything else that sets him apart from the socially acceptable cis white man just further proves that he’s one of many people who have multiple individual traits that make them, them.

Referring to Lauren Ridloff’s character as “mute” shows that many critics judge without any consideration. It doesn’t take complicated science to understand that Lauren Ridloff is deaf, as her character also uses ASL to communicate to the other characters. But for the sake of not letting ignorance take over, it is beneficial for even movie critics to research the casts and characters background to show that knowledge is crucial when making points in a review.

IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS

It is one thing to be brutally honest with reviews and opinions on any piece of work. Not all films or shows are going to have the elements it needs to thrive. But Eternals has made its mark of including a diverse cast, especially with one of the first deaf heroes (Makkari played by Lauren Ridloff), a gay hero who isn’t your stereotypical feminine gay (Phastos played by Brian Tyree Henry), and an important leading Hispanic role in which the actress is a role model to the Hispanic community (Ajak played by Salma Hiyek).

Ignorance shouldn’t be tolerated when a film doesn’t reach your expectations. People aren’t sensitive to the hard cold truth because misogyny is not an opinion nor a different perspective someone holds. Those who discriminate should focus more on their judge of character before judging movie characters.

RIT Communications student and Marketing/Publicity Director for Her Campus at RIT! Blogger, writer, and designer by day, latina and disability advocate by night. Blog: BeTheAesthetic.wordpress.com; art/designing account IG: @betheaesthetic
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