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Eternals (Marvel Studios)

Where is Marvel’s ETERNALS?

I recently wrote a fun little article about Marvel dropping the “The” in The Eternals. From now on, the movie will be marketed as Eternals. I had a little bit of fun with this so-called news, but then it got me thinking. Where is Eternals?

Obviously, 2020 has been a crazy year for everyone. All of our lives were put on hold and a lot of productions were impacted. Movies had to stop being filmed, employees had to work from home, and release dates were shifted repeatedly. However, even before the pandemic, Eternals was an enigma that refused to reveal itself.

Let me elaborate. Eternals was announced at SDCC in 2019. In July we got a run down of the cast and even a logo. The film was then given a release date of November 2020. At D23 we were then given an exclusive look at the various costumes via concept art. In July and August we got a lot of promising information about the film and its place in Phase 4. But after that… it vanished.

At the time of the film’s announcement, principal photography had already commenced and they wrapped up in February 2020- roughly over a month before film sets were abandoned. So, why does this matter? Well, it means that Eternals was somewhat unaffected by the pandemic. The VFX Studio responsible also confirmed that post production could continue at their work-from-home setups meaning that the film could be completed at a safe distance. If you look at Matt Reeves’ The Batman for example, they had to shut down production after filming 20% of the required footage. During lockdown, they could do very little. However, they did produce a trailer… a very good trailer for a film that isn’t due until October 2021.

The Eternals cast
Marvel's Eternals (Marvel Studios/Disney)

Now, this is where it gets interesting. If we have a brief look at the release patterns for trailers for Avengers: Endgame and some of the stand alone movies, we get a good sense of when it is appropriate to advertise said movie. The first official trailer for Endgame dropped on December 7th 2018. That means that the first trailer we got premiered 4 months and 18 days before the actual release. At that point we already had some posters and some general build up ready for the trailer and the movie itself.

Since Endgame was such a massive feat in terms of longevity and hype, lets look at another film. Guardians of the Galaxy is a fan favourite. But there was a lot of anxiety in the air since we were dealing with characters that weren’t entirely popular or well known. Marketing had to be handled carefully to give the audience a clear look at the film and the characters. We got our first Guardians trailer on February 20th 2014. With the UK release date of July 31st 2014, we got the very first trailer over 5 months before the intended release date. Another fan favourite, Thor: Ragnarok was released in the UK on October 27th 2017 and fans were blessed with a teaser trailer on April 17th 2017…. over 6 months before the release date.

What I’m trying to say is that films typically get a trailer roughly 5 months before the actual intended release date. Alongside the trailer, we’ll get posters, character posters, interviews, and other marketing strategies to build hype. We want to be excited for these movies so we need to see it advertised. So, lets look back at Eternals.

Eternals was first announced in July 2019 and filming was wrapped up by February 2020. With a release date of November 2020 we could put a rough trailer estimate at June or July 2020. This could have been a short 1 minute teaser or even a full length trailer. Yet, we’ve had nothing. Fast forward to April 2020, mid lockdown, it was announced that Eternals was being delayed until February 2021.

Eternals and their concept art costumes

Given the current climate, I think that was a good idea. With the new date in place (for now) we can now place the trailer for a September/October release. Technically, they aren’t late. But after the success of DC FanDome and the trailers we got for future releases, my mind completely erased Eternals. Let me phrase it differently…

We haven’t had a trailer and we’ve had 1 poster since its announcement over a year ago. I don’t know how much the pandemic has impacted online marketing but it seems as though Marvel don’t want to advertise their upcoming film. Since we’re dealing with characters many casual fans wouldn’t have heard of, much like Guardians at the time, people need these advertisements to recognize characters, understand the timeline, and to familiarize themselves with the story. Audiences can’t do that when all we’ve had is a logo, limited concept art, and some leaked pictures of the set.

Going back to DC’s FanDome, the entire event was an absolute hit. We got access to upcoming movies, the cast got involved, and it was accessible on a lot of different platforms. The main thing was that the cast were given an opportunity to get excited about their movie and discuss it, whether it was at the event or on Twitter or Instagram. Apart from D23, none of the cast have really stepped forward to discuss Eternals. It really is being treated as though it doesn’t exist.

There’s no marketing, no excitement, no teases, and no interest. This could simply be a timing thing. Perhaps with everything going on, maybe now is not the right time. However, I’d argue that this is the perfect time to advertise the next blockbuster. While some people are mentally down, stressed, and craving for some form of normality, hyping up Eternals would be a great way to alleviate some of that pressure. That’s part of the reason why I think DC FanDome was such a big hit. People needed the trailers, the excitement and the community talking again. No one is talking about Eternals…. because there is no reason to. Yes, the release date is 5 months away but that didn’t stop The Batman and Thor: Ragnarok from creating that buzz that people desire.

DC’s FanDome
DC FanDome

Personally, I think the MCU is going through a rough time. For some audiences, Endgame was an endgame. We said goodbye to some beloved characters that have been with us for years. Now, that mantle is being passed onto the next generation of heroes. That can be a hard thing to process, especially when Marvel are planning the future around characters some may not know that well. What’s more is that they’re pushing for exclusive shows and films for Disney+ which will all be connected. That means in order to understand ‘this’ film you’ll have to watch ‘this’ show and then ‘this’ film. For some audiences, this might be too much of a commitment, or not as exciting due to the lack of the ‘cinema experience’, or maybe it’s financially challenging.

Marvel need to work hard to revitalize that excitement that has dissipated. It’s still there, but it’s hibernating and they’re not doing a lot to help energize it. Take Black Widow for example. I’m very excited because she was a great character but at the same time it’s a prequel for a character that is no longer with us… what purpose does it serve except for introducing a new Black Widow. Add Eternals on top of that and you have a film that currently doesn’t drive the franchise forward and a film that isn’t on anyone’s radar.

Will we receive a trailer soon? Who knows. It seems like we would be lucky just to receive a new poster. But hey, this poster could have the characters on it. That has to count for something, right? Now, I didn’t want this to be me ranting about not getting a trailers. I’d like to think of it more as an insight into the problems that Eternals and Disney face overall. We’ve entered a very strange period for movies and Eternals may be a casualty like Mulan and Bond’s No Time to Die.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to Marvel’s Eternals? Let us know in the comments.

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