True artistic shipwreck or easy bashing, Chloe Zhao’s film score on Rotten Tomatoes or CinemaScore is surprisingly clear.
The least we can say is that The Eternals did not meet the expected critical success. With Chloe zhao at the wand, Marvel had yet put the small dishes in the big ones, to set up an event. The Oscar-winning director of Nomadland, acclaimed, was to bring her special eye to the world of Avengers. Favoring real sets with green backgrounds, highlighting a new team with refreshing diversity, and also involved in writing the script, the filmmaker had all the cards in hand to revolutionize the genre. But on arrival, she was mostly disconcerted, taking on the other side of the Atlantic an unexpected burst of scathing criticism …
The Eternals: the two post-credits scenes explained
So that The Eternals is now rated as the MCU’s Worst Movie! On Rotten Tomatoes, the feature film received only 48% positive reviews. An incredibly low score, which makes it the lowest rated in franchise history. And by far ! The Eternals would therefore be, according to critics, significantly worse than Thor: The Dark World (66%) or even that Iron man 2 (72%). In this ranking, Black widow is 79% positive reviews and the previous installment of the Marvel Universe, Shang-Chi, is 91%! Top rated remaining Black panther (96%) and Avengers: Endgame (94%).
Obviously, Rotten Tomatoes’ scores shouldn’t be taken at face value. Moreover, the score of the public is often inversely proportional … This is the case for The Eternals which comes out, on this criterion, with 81% of positive opinions, far ahead of the most unloved in the matter: Captain marvel, limited to only 45% positive opinions!
Nonetheless, it says something about the brutal way this unique blockbuster is strangely received. His lack of action (for a Marvel) is very often singled out. And this is perhaps what also costs him a “B” according to the American research company CinemaScore (which studies the attendance of a film in order to evaluate). Then again, this is the lowest rating in all of MCU history! Only one other Marvel movie to date has failed to land an “A”. Thor, the first opus, had to be satisfied with a B +, at the time.
– CinemaScore (@CinemaScore) November 6, 2021
It is therefore not a simple optical effect of Rotten Tomatoes. Other criticism aggregators make the same observation. With a score of 53/100, The Eternals is also the MCU’s worst movie on Metacritics, just behind Thor: The Dark World (54) and Iron man 2 (57).
But how to explain such radical returns? Because if The Eternals certainly disappointed, if the expectations placed in Chloe zhao were probably too big, everything is not to be thrown in this opus different from the rest of the franchise: “We want to love these Eternals, heroines and heroes well embodied, offering a nice reboot of the MCU in a film more feelgood than one would have thought“, we write in Première.
Besides, Variety also tries to understand the “bashing” surprise which falls at the moment on the feature film and underlines that “so many of the critics who trashed the film are the same noble moviegoers who have been staunch supporters of Chloe Zhao previously”. The prestigious American magazine evokes the possibility of unconscious sexism. “Whenever a woman takes on the action genre, which was designed mostly for men, people go after that director.“But Variety goes further and says that”the critical establishment increasingly prefers to see cinema in two distinct forms: giant popcorn films designed for mass audiences and smaller, more artistic films made… not for mass audiences. The fact that Chloe zhao making a Marvel movie threatens this dichotomy. If she tries to work within the power structure, then she no longer fights power. She is being punished for it. “
Justified criticism or lynching in order, whatever the causes of this bashing, The Eternals will not have succeeded in being this Marvel blockbuster which reconciles the Oscars and the Box office. Because on the commercial side, the film should not suffer more than that from its score on Rotten Tomatoes: with $ 161 million in worldwide revenue in a few days of operation, The Eternals will be, anyway, one of the big hits of the year 2021.