After a long weekend of serving at a youth conference on the tech team, I finally made it to see Marvel’s The Eternals on Sunday night of the opening weekend. I read the run that Niell Gaiman wrote and found it fascinating so this was something about which I was excited. I wish I had taken time to read it again closer to seeing this movie. You can read a blogpost inspired by that run here.
The project was very ambitious in that it tries to combine big hero action with a significant discussions about understanding humanity, love, but ultimately the movie asks a very big question: should a deity be trusted? Should you give blind obedience to it?
We first meet the Eternals about 7,000 years ago as they arrive on Earth to fight the deviants. According to the intro, the deviants are non thinking beasts that just want to survive and eat whatever they can, including humans and other intelligent species. They have been sent to fight them by a celestial named Arishem. He is an ancient armored being, presented as a creation deity, to protect Earth from this threat.
We see multiple scenes from various cultures of this fight. Mesopotamia. Babylon. Then we find them in Latin America during the time of the Conquistadors. At this point they find themselves in an argument. Should we interfere as the Europeans kill the natives? It is now that they think they have killed all of the deviants on Earth. So they separate. They all go their different ways to live life among the humans.
Come back to the present time of the MCU. After the snap and the blip. Sersi (played by Gemma Chan) has been on her own for a while, aside from Sprite (Lita McHugh) who lives with her. They go for a walk with Sersi’s new love interest, Dane Whitman–known to comics fans as Black Knight. It is now that a deviant comes to attack her. After hundreds of years they are back. This leads to the whole team coming back together. They find Ajak, their leader-played by Salma Hayak, dead on a ranch in South Dakota. The orb that Ajak used to communicate with Arishem now falls to Sersi.
What Sersi finds is not encouraging. Arishem is not the protective deity they thought he was. His plan was for a growing celestial planted in Earth to gain some sort of essence or power from humans as the Earth is destroyed during his birth. The deviants were threatening that plan by destroying the life that would be sacrificed at a later time to create a new celestial. Arishem has planned the destruction of Earth this whole time…and this is not the first time they have assisted him in such a catastrophe. The Eternals are expected to let this happen without a care for humans at all, and they have many other times.
Now they start to question their whole existence. They start to question Arishem. Should they stand by and let billions of people get killed so this new celestial can build other galaxies? Should billions of lives be destroyed to birth a creature who would create countless new civilizations? This does seem to connect well with the Babylonian creation myth (they even named the new celestial Tiamat).
This is a far cry from the grace I know of Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:15-20 does paint Jesus as the Ultimate Celestial, but these celestials destroy planets to be born. Jesus is the God of Salvation, not destruction. We are sinful creatures. We do destroy each other and ourselves. We fail to love our neighbor. We all fall short of the glory of our Creator (Romans 3:23). As stated by a song from Newsong, God could have destroyed us and started all over on Mars yet he chose not to do that. Instead Jahovah chose to send Christ to be Emmanuel (God with us). In the mystery of what we call the Trinity He is both God and Son of God, and he was sacrificed to be a sin offering for us.
In this movie Arishem chose to use a system that destroys civilizations so that new deities can be born. In the system that God chose His own Son is sacrificed so we can be redeemed from destruction. One plan destroys the less powerful to make a new powerful one, the other plan chooses to have a normally indestructible being to choose his own destruction so that the less powerful would be healed, forgiven and empowered.
In life you can choose to follow Jesus. His goal is not your destruction, but your redemption. He simply asks for your cooperation which begins by recognizing your need for redemption though Christ. Jesus set the example of love when He died on the cross for all who will accept Him. If you aren’t sure, try reading through Romans or the Gospels. Not just for information, but for revelation. You don’t need an orb hiding in your neck. Just ask God to speak through His Word and then read it.