In a surprising turn of events, Eternals has just become the lowest-rated MCU film ever on popular review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. Its score is even lower than the likes of Thor: The Dark World and The Incredible Hulk. Could it be Marvel’s first true flop?
Currently, Eternals has a score of 60% from 126 reviews which is the lowest ever for an MCU film. The situation is even bleaker when you look at its Top Critic score; there, the film has only managed a poor 57% from RT-certified top critics. Should Eternals drop even one more percentage point, it will also earn the dubious honor of being the MCU’s first movie to be "rated rotten."
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Until now the lowest-rated MCU movies were Thor: The Dark World (66%), The Incredible Hulk (67%), and Iron Man 2 (72%), but it’s looking likely that Eternals will take the unwanted crown. It will also be only the third MCU movie not to be “rated fresh” by the review compilation site.
Eternals reviewing poorly has come as quite a shock. MCU films have been considered fairly bankable over the last decade, with even the franchise's most generic entries, such as Black Widow (79%), earning respectable reviews. Eternals is also directed by Chloe Zhao, who won Best Director for Nomadland at this year’s Oscars, so if anything the film was expected to set a new benchmark for Marvel movies.
Perhaps some of the responsibility for the film’s disappointing critical reception can be attributed to the original source material. The Eternals are extremely niche characters in the Marvel canon and have had only a few comic book runs since they were created by Jack Kirby in the 1970s. They are generally considered a lower-tier Marvel property.
More Eternals review scores are expected to trickle in over the coming days ahead of the film’s release on Friday (Nov. 5), but the writing is on the wall with this one: typically, RT scores start high and then slowly drop over time. It’s therefore more likely that Eternals will drop further than it is to claw its way above any other MCU film.
Whether or not the film’s disappointing reviews will have any impact on its box office performance remains to be seen. It’s unlikely that hardcore Marvel fans will be dissuaded, but a (relatively) low RT score could be an indication that Eternals won’t connect with the general audience the way most MCU movies do.
Thankfully, Marvel Studios is unlikely to end 2021 on a bum note, with the Disney Plus Hawkeye series streaming this month and Spider-Man: No Way Home hitting theatres in December. And based on the early buzz around both, it seems likely they'll get a better reception than Eternals.
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