by Ray Keating
January 30, 2022
Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios, declared the MCU movie Eternals to be a “love letter” to Jack Kirby, the great comic book artist and writer who created The Eternals, along with creating or co-creating a host of other Marvel characters, from Captain America to the Fantastic Four.
Unfortunately, the Eternals movie is anything but a love letter to Kirby.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in November, at the premiere of Eternals, Feige, referring to Kirby, said, “The whole movie is a love letter to what one man was able to do with a pencil, sitting at a little desk on the East Coast.”
The Eternals arrived from Marvel Comics in July 1976. I probably read the books when they were first published, but I confess to not recalling if I did or not. So, I just finished reading (re-reading?) Kirby’s run on The Eternals. This is not Kirby’s best story work by any means. It’s uneven, with some inspired moments and others that just fall flat. However, as is almost always the case with Kirby, the artwork is strong and dramatic, and has something of a cinematic quality to it. It’s easy to see how Feige or others at Marvel Studios thought it would be a good idea to bring The Eternals to the big screen, despite the fact that the books largely fell into the unread category for many, if not most, comic book readers.
Unfortunately, the film in almost every way is indifferent to or ignorant of Kirby’s work.
As noted in my DisneyBizJournal review, Eternals came up short in so many ways, such as flat characters; mostly poor performances (though with exceptions); contradictions and nonsensical moments in the story and for certain characters; poor special effects; and supposed attempts to deal with big issues that simply come off as immature and embarrassing.
And if this weren’t bad enough, any real link to Jack Kirby’s work is nonexistent. The moviemakers use the names of Kirby’s characters, but that’s pretty much it. There’s no resemblance between the original comic book characters and those in the movie. Debate and complaints always seem to materialize when characters from comic books are presented on the silver screen. More often than not, however, the debate or complaints are over matters of degree. For example, the 2013 Man of Steel movie still generates debate over certain actions by Superman, but there’s no mistaking that this is Superman. That’s definitely not the case with the Eternals movie. It’s hard to find characters in the movie grounded in any substantive way with Kirby’s original characters. Indeed, most of this is quite egregious on the part of the filmmakers, including a dramatic change in Ikaris, who serves as the central hero in Kirby’s books but is presented as something quite different in the movie. If Warner Brothers had done to Superman what Marvel Studios did to Ikaris, I hate to think what Superman fans would have done. Luckily for the MCU, few knew who Ikaris was going into the theater. Of course, Jack Kirby certainty understood the characters he created, and it’s hard to believe that he would have seen the Eternals film as some kind of love letter.
Finally, one of the most damning issues for a movie, though, is that the pages of The Eternals drawn by Jack Kirby possess more cinematic magic than does the actual Eternals movie seen in cinemas. The Eternals was far from Jack Kirby’s best work, yet those comic books still beat the Eternals movie.
Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?
Get more out of 2022 with The Disney Planner 2022: The TO DO List Solution! It combines a simple, powerful system for getting things done with encouragement and fun for Disney fans, including those who love Mickey, Marvel, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pixar, princesses and more. Also, “The Disney Planner 2022: The TO DO List Solution” comes with a handy spiral binding for easy use.
Keating has three new books out. Vatican Shadows: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel is the 13th thriller/mystery in the Pastor Stephen Grant series. Get the paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon, or signed books at www.raykeatingonline.com. Past Lives: A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story is the 14th book in the series. Again, get the paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon, or signed book at www.raykeatingonline.com. And order the 15th book in the series What’s Lost? A Pastor Stephen Grant Short Story – grab it at Amazon.com or signed editions at www.raykeatingonline.com.
Also, check out Ray’s podcasts – the Daily Dose of Disney, Free Enterprise in Three Minutes, and the PRESS CLUB C Podcast.