The Eternals will be similar to Guardians of the Galaxy in that many who choose to watch the upcoming installment will not be familiar with the characters — and all the juicy intricacies inherent to their backstories — going in. Marvel President Kevin Feige explained why he is happy that the history of the Eternals and Celestials is shrouded in mystery. He stated:
Your reaction about not being familiar with the Eternals is perfect, because most people weren’t familiar with Guardians [of the Galaxy] and believe it or not there were people that were not familiar with Avengers or with Iron Man…So for us, its finding great stories whether people have heard of them or not and bring them to the big screen in as amazing a way as we can.We Got This Covered
Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige does not shy away from mystery, which may sound like a winning habit for creativity; however, in the business sense of the word, he is straying from familiar heroes. He is deviating from the safety net of established personas and characters — those fans are curious to see recreated and reinvented based on historical fondness — and those whose mere appearances are enough to create buzz, regardless of execution.
‘The Eternals’ and ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy’ vs. ‘Superman’ and ‘Batman’
When choosing superheroes who are not ingrained into our historical culture, those behind the project must make them appealing enough to attract audiences with no preconceived notions surrounding or feelings towards the characters. Simply put: it is a risk to bring an unknown hero to the table and expect to sell tickets.
While Marvel now doesn’t need to worry about box office sales, as the studio has developed a reputation capable of selling out movie theaters no matter the content, this was not always the case. Meaning, while it’s less of a risk now, it was more of a risk at the start.
The MCU does not boast as many flagship heroes as the DCEU does. DC has Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, while the MCU didn’t even have Spider-Man (the face of Marvel comics) for quite some time.
From the ground up…not from the memory bank
The MCU needed to build a reputation off lesser-known superheroes, while the DCEU has been able to rely on familiarity and nostalgia. Superman opens to poor reviews, but it sells out theaters. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has a 28% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, but the movie was a financial triumph.
In other words, while the DCEU is relying on its names — its rights to some of the most historically relevant and well-known supers to take the stage — the MCU has relied on its delivery. DC has Clark Kent; his appearance alone — the iconic shirt-ripping and glasses-wearing past — sparks interest. Marvel has Quill…he better be funny, complex, and perfectly flawed.
The MCU has relied on its ability to develop interest from the ground up, via an intricately woven universe (about to become a multiverse), long-gestating character arcs featuring repeated appearances by the same actors, and suspenseful narratives.
The Eternals will be just like The Guardians of the Galaxy: the first movie will develop interest, and if there’s a second, it will likely dive into why we should care deeply, and how the characters will remain relevant to the overarching saga. DC pulls an iconic name from its hat of flagship supers, creates a movie, and then changes the actor when something “different” is required. The name sells the tickets, but does the execution?