‘Eternals’ Star Talks Lasting ‘Trauma’ from Marvel Film’s Negative Reviews


Kumail Nanjiani, star of Marvel’s The Eternals, spoke about the “trauma” the film’s poor reviews left him with. Nanjiani, whose other credits include Silicon Valley and The Big Sick, appeared on the podcast Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum (via The Hollywood Reporter).

“The reviews were bad, and I was too aware of it,” Nanjiani told Smallville star Rosenbaum. “I was reading every review and checking too much.”

The Eternals also starred Salma Hayek, Barry Keoghan, and Angelina Jolie, in a now-rare film role. It was released in November 2021, less than a year after its director, Chloe Zhao, won a Best Director Oscar for Nomadland.

At the time, Marvel was still fairly indestructible at the box office. Eternals was released two months after Shang-Chi, which garnered rave reviews and was one of the first post-pandemic box office hits. Because of Zhao’s involvement, Marvel was hopeful Eternals would net the studio its first Best Picture nomination. They released reviews early in the hopes of building buzz, but that backfired spectacularly on its cast.

“It was really, really hard, because Marvel thought that movie was going to be really, really well-reviewed,” Nanjiani explained. “They lifted the [review] embargo early and put it in some fancy movie festivals and they sent us on a big global tour to promote the movie right as the embargo lifted.”

Nanjiani and the rest of the cast were then sent on press interviews as the bad reviews came pouring in. Typically, those interviews are conducted before embargos are lifted. It was a humiliating experience for all, but a seminal one for Nanjiani.

“That was when I thought it was unfair to me and unfair to [my wife] Emily, and I can’t approach my work this way anymore. Some shit has to change, so I started counseling. I still talk to my therapist about that.”

Although he’s come a long way since 2021, the actor still has some lingering effects of the Eternals media blitz. “Emily says that I do have trauma from it,” he said. “We actually just got dinner with somebody else from that movie and we were like, ‘That was tough, wasn’t it?’ and he’s like ‘Yeah, that was really tough.’ I think we all went through something similar.”

The Eternals earned mixed reviews, though at the time they were some of the worst Marvel had received. The film grossed $402 million worldwide. Many agreed that the studio’s action-heavy style didn’t mix with Zhao’s low-key, character-focused material, though reviews praised her influences overall.

Nanjiani, who made his name as a stand-up comedian and frequent podcast guest, got famously ripped to play Kingo in the film. “I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world,” he said in a 2019 Instagram post. “I’m glad I look like this, but I also understand why I never did before,” he joked.

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