The film has also been subject to review bombing on IMDb, reportedly for its portrayal of the LGBTQIA+ relationship of Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos, the first ever Black gay superhero in a Marvel film.
Review bombing refers to the act of a group of people providing overwhelmingly negative reviews for a release, often without even watching it, as a form of protest.
According to The Direct, the reviews, that now stand to be removed by IMDb, criticise the film for its inclusion of a gay kissing scene. One user reportedly called it “woke and mediocre,” and said, “Come on Marvel, this was cheap even for you.”
However, on Rotten Tomatoes, which lists reviews from published critics, the film did not face criticism for its LGBTQIA+ portrayal, but instead got called on issues like poor screenwriting and lack of character development. On the other hand, some critics also lauded director Chloe Zhao for the diversity of the cast and the characters.
Eternals, which marks Oscar-winning filmmaker Zhao’s Marvel debut, introduces a new team of superheroes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Based on the Marvel Comics race of the same name, Eternals takes place in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame (2019), and follows “ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years who, after being forced out of the shadows, reunite to fight against mankind’s oldest enemy, the Deviants.”
The film features Angelina Jolie as the “fierce warrior” Thena, Richard Madden as the “all-powerful” Ikaris, Gemma Chan as “humankind loving” Sersi, Kumail Nanjiani as the “cosmic powered” Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as the “super-fast” Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as the “intelligent inventor” Phastos, Salma Hayek as the “wise and spiritual leader” Ajak, Lia McHugh as the “eternally young and old soul” Sprite, Don Lee as the “powerful” Gilgamesh, Barry Koeghan as the “aloof loner” Druig, and Kit Harrington as Dane Whitman aka the Black Knight.
The film’s world premiere was held in Los Angeles on October 18 and several attendees called it the most “un-MCU” movie ever, and noted how different it is from the “formulaic” Marvel films made so far. There were, however, some mixed reviews about the absence of action sequences, something previous Marvel films have excelled in, and a more down-to-earth approach than its predecessors.
Following the aforementioned review bombing of the film, both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb have disabled their respective audience comments and reviews sections until the film’s release.
This is not the first time that a Marvel film has been the victim of review bombing. The 2019 film Captain Marvel, headlined by Brie Larson, was review bombed on IMDb for its “feminist agenda.” According to the 2019 Inverse report, there are more one-star reviews for movies like Captain America: Civil War (8,969) and Thor: Ragnarok (5,001) than there are for Captain Marvel (4,943). But the majority of user reviews for Captain Marvel were either a 10 or a 1. This variance was not previously seen in any other Marvel movie listed on IMDb.
The 2018 film Black Panther also received a significant amount of one-star ratings (3.5% of total ratings) but that has dropped to a 3.1%.