Where 'Eternals' Went Wrong With South Asian Representation *MAJOR SPOILERS*
Updated: Jan 4
With the massive anticipation of Marvel's first South Asian Superhero, expectations were high with superstar Kumail Nanjiani joining the MCU. With Chloe Zhao helming the project as director we were happy that someone who's also Asian would most probably understand how excited audiences would be to see the representation on screen.
We were invited to watch the movie on the big screen, a group of us South Asians sat together excited to see what was in store. While Eternals does hit the mark in several places on representation, there were scenes and moments that shocked us in a bad way.
Before I continue, there are two ways to look at this criticism:
Ignore all flaws and just be happy that there are South Asians on screen in the first place
If you're going to represent, do it properly and do it justice.
The first red flag was Sersi and Ikaris's Hindu wedding ceremony, now I'm not Hindu but whenever Islam is displayed and represented on screen it's always done wrong, and it just goes to show that the writers don't know what they're doing, care to get it right or even ask a Muslim / Muslims and do extra research to get it right.
At this point I turned to Anuj Radia next to me who said he felt offended. It personally didn't make sense to me that two outer-world beings were having a Hindu ceremony, but that's a conversation I'll leave to an expert on the religion. Maybe it was Marvel's way of showing how the Eternals are integrating themselves on Earth.
The famous Bollywood scene that was teased in the trailers and articles before the release, now this scene I think looked really cool. It was nice to see all the colours and dance choreography, the outfits and song by our very own Celina Sharma, the leading lady being our very own Nikkita Chadha.
But on the other hand...Is this all Hollywood depicts of us South Asians?
"Hey! We've got an Indian guy in our Marvel movie! Here's an original idea: Let's make him a Bollywood star!"
While it was a great scene and allowed more South Asians to be in the movie as supporting acts, it did make me question Marvel Studios lack of creativity. The MCU has evolved so much! Surely they could have thought of something else for a change? Even if it was Bollywood, there's so much more to Bollywood than its musicals. I think they should have taken a page out of Mortal Kombat's book, think of Johnny Cage - he's an actor & action movie star.
But nevertheless, it was a great scene and still landed the hits.
Moving on to where it got really bad - Kingo's valet driver (Harish Patel)
Now, we're not complaining at Harish Patel as an actor, but what was the reason to include his character along the Eternals journey? He's portrayed as the stereotypical, over weight, Indian-accent speaking side character used for comedy purposes - but it wasn't funny! He ends up becoming the butt of the joke, his camera being smashed by an angry Eternal more than once.
The whole thing felt forced!
It's fair enough he has a native accent, he's introduced in his hometown and that's how it sounds. I'm not against it, it works if it's written well. We've had Tony Chang in Corner Shop which was inspired by Ken Jeong from Hangover, there's Dupinder from Deadpool who plays a stereotypical cab driver but at least his role is elevated. Harish's role is almost like a pet being told to do a trick to make everyone laugh at him.
Kumail is a strong comedic performer, he didn't need a sidekick to bounce jokes from because he's funny as he is! Marvel failed to use him to his fullest comedic potential. That brings me to my final point...
Kingo was written out of the final battle!
The big epic build up, it's the time for the superheroes to unite and save the day. The ONE Indian superhero opts out of fighting at all. We were expecting him to make a triumphant return and have a dramatic entrance...nothing!
And here's the PLOT HOLE
In order for the Eternals to defeat the final boss, they all have to link their minds in what they call the 'Uni-mind' and it won't work unless they're all connected.
So where was Kingo? How did it work without him being connected?
I thought there'd be some sort of explanation when the storm blew over but he just packed his bags, got in his car with Sprite and his valet driver and left.
The only good thing is that by the end of the movie we know he'll be in the sequel.
Let's hope they do him justice the second time around.