The MCU has an uncanny ability of making films about characters that few outside Marvel’s hardcore fanbase may know about and making them blockbuster superstars. They did it with Guardians of the Galaxy, Shang-Chi, and many more. Unfortunately, Eternals may be the first time the MCU genuinely stumbled.
The film follows the titular group of super-powered, immortal beings who have been living on Earth for millennia, protecting it from their ancient enemies, the Deviants. They thought they wiped out the last Deviants on Earth centuries ago, only for a newer, stronger group to emerge following the defeat of Thanos. The Eternals must reunite to combat this new threat, but that ends up becoming the least of their problems, as they learn some very unsettling truths about their purpose on Earth.
Unless you’re a hardcore fan of Marvel, then this may be one film that you can actually pass on. Marvel does its best to make these obscure creations of Jack Kirby into the next Guardians, but the problem is that it’s trying too hard to cram everything in at once. The runtime’s too long, the exposition drags on, and there’s not enough to keep people interested. Not even having Jon Snow and Robb Stark in it is enough to help.
Rounding out their year of new series on Disney+, Hawkeye puts the spotlight firmly on the Avengers’ resident archer, just in time for Christmas. Following the events of Endgame, Hawkeye’s now retired and wants nothing more than to spend Christmas with his family. Unfortunately, his past actions as Ronin come back to haunt him when a young woman named Kate Bishop ends up stealing the Ronin costume without knowing its importance. As a result, Barton gets dragged back into the superhero game as he tries to keep Kate and his family safe. From there, things get even more complicated.
Hawkeye marks the moment where the last of the original Avengers gets their time in the spotlight, and it uses this to great effect. Not having to share with the likes of Cap, Iron Man, and Thor, the miniseries really gives us the chance to explore Barton’s character. He arguably suffered more than any of the other heroes due to Thanos’ actions, and reacted in the worst way possible: by killing every criminal he met. When the series starts, it’s clear he’s got some unresolved PTSD from his time as Ronin, as well as his guilt over Nat’s sacrifice. What happens in this series allows Hawkeye the chance to get some much needed closure and truly come into his own as a hero.
Speaking of heroes, the other big draw of this show is Kate Bishop. She idolizes Hawkeye and sees him as a role model ever since the Battle of New York. While the events of the series serve to remove the rose-tinted glasses she has regarding superheroes, it never diminishes her positive opinion of them or her hero. She still thinks Hawkeye’s a good person, and she ends up being the one to pull him out of his self-wallowing state. Thanks to this, Kate Bishop looks set to take up her hero’s mantle as the new Hawkeye. Thus, we’ve got another Young Avenger joining the MCU.
That, and it confirms that the Netflix series are canon to the MCU.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
Last, but definitely not least, we have the movie everyone’s been waiting for, the story combines all live-action eras of the webhead, Spider-Man: No Way Home. As we put in our review for the film, this was a film twenty years in the making.
Picking up right after the mid-credits scene from Far from Home, Spider-Man finds his entire life thrown into turmoil. His secret identity gets as Peter Parker is outed, and while he dodges any legal charges, he can’t avoid the idiots who believe Mysterio’s lies. So, he turns to Doctor Strange to wipe everyone’s minds about his secret identity, with disastrous results. Thanks to him messing with the spell, he drags in everyone who knows his identity from across the multiverse, including the villains from the Raimi and Webb films. Facing villains from across space and time, Spider-Man get pushed to his absolute limits. Before the dust settles, people will die, and his life will never be the same.
This film is clearly the magnum opus to the year of Marvel that is 2021. Critics and fans are calling it “the best Marvel film ever”, and for good reason. Not only does it continue the evolution of MCU Peter, it sees the return of past iterations of Spider-Men and villains. Whatever your opinion is of the Raimi or Webb films, you cannot deny the excitement of seeing the people from them appear on the big screen. Alfred Molina and Willem DaFoe nailed it as Doc Ock and the Goblin!
Without spoiling the ending, let’s just say that nothing’s ever going to be the same for MCU Peter. He’s more alone than ever, and it’s clear that everything that’s happened will have a major impact on his character development. Despite this, though, he remains committed to helping people. Only time will tell if he can undo the events of this film and get the happiness that he deserves. As for Doctor Strange, it looks like his own actions in this film are going to come back to bite him. Hard.