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Tuesday, November 16, 2021 

Sersi's costume design in the Eternals movie is an insult to Jack Kirby's memory

The new, politically correct Eternals movie appears to have resulted in one of the lowest-grossing Marvel adaptations so far (and a 61 percent drop in box office results, even as it remained at the top rank). I'm honestly not sorry, seeing how badly Marvel's been commoditized for the sake of soulless blockbuster films at the expense of the source material, which has now reached the point of wokeness, devastatingly enough.

Anyway, having seen how this movie's floundering, I've decided to address a few more related topics, beginning with the way this film's depiction of Sersi decidedly comes off as more of an insult to the memory of Jack Kirby, namely, in the way the lady's costume was trashed for the sake of what looks like an overly modest one. To make the point, I've obtained a few pictures of what Sersi's outfit really looked like years before:
Back when legends like Kirby were around, he designed this fancy bustier-style costume, almost similar to Wonder Woman's, though with a green-colored exterior (later changed to red in the early 90s), and it was Sersi's most common outfit in some way or other for many years. So to trash it in the live action movie starring Gemma Chan in the role with a modest, less revealing design was decidedly slapping Kirby's memory in the face, after all his hard work. All the filmmakers did is make clear they're embarrassed and ashamed of the costume designs past masters illustrated, and if they really disliked Ms. Marvel's costume designs that much, it only confirms what they really think of WW's by extension. With that told, I think I'll also comment on a few other related articles as well, beginning with this sugar-drenched "review" by the one and only Glen Weldon at NPR:
And today, with the debut of every new film and television show, more and more prospective audience members find themselves aching to escape, to rid themselves forever of these children's characters and their microweave pajamas and their hypertrophic musculature and their too-tidy, infantilizing morality tales.

It's not a backlash, really, because backlash suggests a reflexive reaction driven by a sudden, overwhelming need to reject, to force out, to detoxify. What some critics and audiences are manifesting now, as they find themselves wading clavicle-deep through whatever particular numbered MCU Phase we find ourselves in, is something softer and sadder — a weariness bred by familiarity.
This doesn't make much sense, and he fails to consider that most audiences aren't desperate to see an emphasis on homosexuality like he does. Yet this does strongly hint he considers the source material mere children's fare; exactly what's wrong with the thinking of such charlatans. And rejecting/detoxifying? Well if the box office intake says something...most are doing what he says they're not. He also says:
You'd be forgiven for assuming that Zhao's directorial presence would get buried, caught up in the gears of the MCU machine and ground into the same uniformly fine powder that gets baked into every Marvel movie.

And it does get ground up, to a certain extent. But not entirely. And as a result, the film pushes back against the usual complaints offered up by those who harbor a performative disdain for Marvel's cinematic output.
Based upon how the movies did find huge audiences within the span of a decade, that's why, apart from the fact I'm disappointed nobody considered how the original comics were being ground up into a disaster back in that industry by far-leftists like Weldon, I'm not sure what he means here either. He also says:
4. Marvel movies are emotionally arid and aromantic, with a pre-adolescent disdain of intimacy. (Read: Why don't these insanely hot people ever bone?)

We get some hot — well, lukewarm — PG-13 boning! We get a tender, romantic same-sex kiss!

We, uh, also get an adolescent who romantically longs for an adult, and even if we're quick to slap an asterisk on it, (they're both immortal), it's still pretty disquieting.
And the same-sex moment is actually a point of contention, given how it resorts to cheap sensationalism, along with the race/gender swapping. Say, did it ever occur to him he's risking the notion of normalizing tasteless lust on a statutory level? Let's remember this was the same entertainment writer who penned a very ludicrous take on Batman & Robin's relations. Also note how he admits it's lukewarm. Something tells me he really was bored by the proceedings, but ideology is enough to approve this movie to the max in his mind.
5. I don't know or care about these Marvel movie characters

Guess what! Nobody does

*Okay, somebody does. You can probably find a nerd out there eager to lecture you on the difference in power-sets between Sersi and Ajak, but none of these characters have made their way off of the comics page and into the cultural ether in any meaningful way.
Those nerds wouldn't be him. He only cares about them as political vehicles. Weldon is definitely one to lecture, and this so-called review is just the icing on the cake. Based on audience reception in the past 2 weeks or so, it's clear they sadly didn't make their way off the pages meaningfully.
10. Marvel movies are for children and childish adults, and they have crowded out movies for real adults

Chloe Zhao makes the kind of movies you're talking about. She won two Academy Awards for her last one. She will make serious bank on this Marvel movie, which she has managed to infuse with her sensibility, despite a massive corporate infrastructure engineered to maintain a uniformity of output that keeps directors like her from doing exactly that.

She will take the money and the clout she made from this film and go on to make movies to your liking, having added to her skillset the successful negotiation of impossibly massive global logistics involved in MCU filmmaking, That won't make her a better director, of course, but it will make her a uniquely experienced one — and, not for nothing, a director able to choose her next project.
Those movies won't be blockbusters like this one, if the box office receipts say something. So how can Ms. Zhao make much bank beyond the paycheck? Interestingly, she's one of at least a handful of directors who got their start in arthouse cinema, and the Capt. Marvel movie, IIRC, had 2 such contributors (Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck), but did their prior experience guarantee success artistically? Nope. In any event, this "review" doesn't seem particularly objective so much as it does seem pretty tabloid. One can only wonder how the reprehensible Mr. Weldon feels now that it's mostly underwater at the box office after 2 weeks. Particularly after it was banned in several Islamic countries, due to the homosexuality theme, something most SJWs stateside will doubtless tiptoe around. Serious bank? Tell us about it.

With that laughable kowtowing having been commented upon, let's now turn to an interview director Chan gave to Elle, where they talk about the sex scene in the movie:
Chloe Zhao’s Marvel epic, now playing in theaters, contains the first sex scene in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since Iron Man in 2008 (and the first-ever one with nudity, albeit from the shoulders up). But unlike Tony Stark’s sleazy one-night stand with a female reporter which underscored his playboy image at the time, this is an intimate moment between Sersi (Gemma Chan) and Ikaris (Richard Madden), two equals and fellow Eternals who’ve been in love for thousands of years. They sleep together in a secret canyon at sunset, lying on the sand. Through the years, critics have pointed out the sexlessness of the MCU. (Are Avengers really above sexual desire? Should they be?) According to Zhao, even Chan and Madden have noted that sex and nudity are rare for the genre.

“You don’t see superheroes do things like this, usually,” the director tells ELLE.com over Zoom from L.A. “And it’s one of the most fundamental things we do as human beings. So to see that, [and] take that stigma out, I think it’s a really, really powerful thing.” [...]

I love that you mentioned the canyon scenes. I thought it was really interesting to include an intimate scene where we have two larger-than-life heroes in a sexual relationship, which is pretty rare. Why was it important for you to keep it, and did you meet any resistance when it came to including that in the film?

Well, those elements were in the treatment that I read, and made it into the script [that] everyone at Marvel and Disney had read. We’re telling a love story that would define the fate of a planet. So, to show that they don’t just love each other emotionally, intellectually, but also physically in the most gentle and loving and giving way, was very important. And we’re very lucky; I spoke with Gemma and Richard about this, ‘cause it’s very rare in a film like this, and they were excited. They were like, “Wow, we get to humanize that aspect.”

Did you work with an intimacy coordinator, or since it was a shorter scene—

[Shakes her head] Because we were shooting it also in the last light of the day, I mean, there was one take. It was, like, one take. That’s the true magic hour. It’s the blue hour. It’s about less than 25 minutes. I think because it’s so tame, and it’s really just about two people being with each other, it’s not that kind of thing. It’s more poetic, let’s put it that way.
But as this review from the Toronto Globe and Mail points out:
The new film is the first in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to feature a sex scene … which is about six seconds long and as neutered as Groot the talking tree’s genitalia. But the film is the also first MCU flick to include openly queer characters … though their sexual identity is limited to a quick kiss as chaste as that aforementioned sex scene. Oh, and the film is the first Marvel blockbuster to be directed by a filmmaker coming directly off an Academy Award win for Best Picture … a regrettable fact that earns Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) instant ignominy for helming the most embarrassing best-pic follow-up since John G. Avildsen went from the heights of Rocky to the forgotten depths of Slow Dancing in the Big City.
Now if it's that short, and, as the interview hints, is limited to merely implied nudity, if at all, what's the big fuss here? This is nothing but cowardice mixed with laziness, compounding the perception it's all a lot of wokeness. Even if the homosexual scene is pretty brief to boot.

A writer at the Federalist reviewed the film, and made some valid points how heavy-handed leftism ruined everything:
So what happened? Many critics think there has been a burnout on superhero movies. With so many movies and television series scraping up the dregs of Marvel source material still untouched, there is little left to revive the superhero genre.

Coupled with this is the obvious leftist ideology incorporated into each new Marvel and Disney iteration. The movie made news with its inclusion of a large multiracial cast, a Chinese-American female director, and a kissing scene between two nonwhite men. All this seemed like cheap leftist virtue signaling and suggested the movie was checking boxes rather than entertaining audiences.

On their own, however, neither the apparent burnout or ideological overreach sufficiently explain the declining interest in the superhero genre or the lackluster reception of “The Eternals.” When put together, however, they do indicate what’s really happening: the burnout isn’t with superhero movies, but with what leftism is doing to today’s movies in general.
I would argue that fatigue with heavy special effects in all these blockbusters is another factor in how far everything's fallen - it's long served as a weak substitute for good acting, ever since the turn of the century. What I may have once found impressive in the original Jurassic Park is now more of a liability in major cinematic sci-fi cinema than something of value. At this point, special effects are like the equivalent of cheap plastic. And then, there's the little matter of tokenism:
Another problem with infusing identity politics is the inevitable tokenism, the inclusion of different minorities for the purpose of virtue signaling and nothing else. In one way, tokenism makes too much of identity, assuming race or sexual orientation can make up for an undeveloped, unrealistic character. They are simply included because it’s politically correct to do so, nothing more.

Paradoxically, tokenism also makes too little of identity by purposefully limiting a character’s personality to an incidental quality. If a character is a token person of color or homosexual, the only thing that matters is his skin color or kissing a person of the same sex. In every regard, they are just like everyone else or generally superior since the goal is to normalize and celebrate, not to show any kind of growth or struggle—for that would imply weakness, which then implies some kind of prejudice.

“The Eternals” adopts the very worst aspects of tokenism. The main characters fight, and they look good doing it. That’s it. Their personal struggles are minimized and their growth is nonexistent. Like Rey from the latest Star Wars trilogy or Captain Marvel, they have nothing to learn because they are awesome already. And if audiences have a problem with this, they better check their privilege and stop being prejudiced.
Many "auteurs" claim what they're doing is not tokenism, yet the end result of these politically influenced tales is just that. And they almost never emphasize whether the characters in focus are of a different ethnicity/nationality, and like to celebrate foreign cultures and customs from Europe/Africa/south America/Asia, if at all. For the left, only skin color and sexual preference matters, and that's practically what any ostensibly "creative" decision hinges upon these days.

In the end, it's a terrible shame a famous artist like Kirby's creations have been abused so horribly, and their backgrounds altered, for the sake of somebody else's idea of identity politics. Kirby deserves so much better, and Disney/Marvel Studios just had to ruin everything. Who knows what classic property in the Marvel stables will be the next victim of their awful agendas?

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Hell, taking Kirby characters that are all based on Greek mythology and turning them into a Benneton ad because we can't have white characters is enough bullshit for any comics fan to avoid this drivel.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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