THere’s something happening with Eternals, Oscar-winning Chloe Zhao’s first dive into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Maybe it’s one of the first MCU episodes to arrive almost fully formed, with no endless teases or character introductions from previous installments. Perhaps that’s how the last full August trailer seemed to apologize in advance, explaining that the Cosmic Guardians of Earth didn’t bother to take down villainous Thanos during the upsetting events of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame because they were told not to. by some pesky unknown entity. But most likely … wait, is this Angelina Jolie in a blonde, silver spandex wig?
Yes, Jolie, almost infinitely famous, plays Thena, an elite Eternal Warrior who can form any weapon out of pure cosmic energy. And why not? Because if there is a human more apt to play a magnificent, godlike, otherworldly creature who has lived for over 7,000 years (but not aged), I have yet to meet him.
And yet Jolie is an outlier in the Marvel Universe, a star so brilliant that she doesn’t need the power of any studio to propel her through the Hollywood cosmos. Marvel doesn’t need her either, as she turned strangers, has-beens, and fast climbers into A-listers in her 20-movie journey.
Jolie, however, looks more like an AAA list, so famous that it is hardly possible to distinguish the character from the actor.
She’s not Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man, an actor trying to rebuild his career after eluding everyone for a few years. She’s not Glenn Close in Guardians of the Galaxy, a veteran playing her fantastic role as a knowledgeable semi-cameo, aware that everyone knows who she is but is happy to suspend disbelief as it’s so nice to see her chewing landscapes like a badass in natty blue space clothes. It’s Angelina Jolie, damn it! In order for her to disappear into a role these days, special effects whistlers would have to digitally disintegrate her on a subatomic level and reconstruct her from pixels made of cherry blossoms. And even then, we would still see Jolie on screen.
Why is she in Eternals? Did we accidentally plug in a DC movie trailer by mistake? For Jolie, it would make perfect sense to become a magical sea-titan in an upcoming Aquaman sequel, or perhaps in a Batman movie as the object of Bruce Wayne’s affections. After all, Nicole Kidman has done both, and she’s almost as famous onscreen as Jolie. But no, Eternals is most definitely a Marvel movie – they named Thanos.
Could it be that despite her incredible fame, Jolie ultimately needs the Disney-owned studio? Her efforts in the high-profile Maleficent films haven’t received much love from critics, and she hasn’t really thrived in more low-key drama lately.
If this was an episode of Entourage, the classic ’00s TV show about an actor trying to make it in Hollywood, staring in a Marvel movie, this is exactly the kind of stuff the SuperAgent of Jeremy Piven, Ari Gold, would try to succeed to get his client’s one. career on the rails. Sadly, that doesn’t make it any less odd that Jolie is in this movie. She has the power to blow everyone off the screen, but right now she never really does.
Still, if Marvel can embrace Jolie and energize her career to the point where, a decade from now, we see her as one of the main players in the superhero mega-saga, this could be the most impressive stunt since Tony Stark invented time travel using tights. – plastic backs and an algebra textbook.