During the Eternals’ movie promotion, Salma Hayek’s Ajak was hyped up much more than any other character was. Even much before that, fans of the Eternals will know of Ajak’s importance in the MCU. So, why did the Eternals fail its most important character? Every time a new Avengers storyline was released, the number of superheroes it assembled to fight evil forces grew. After multiple films, several characters in Endgame’s final group battle had already had their story arcs fleshed out.
Furthermore, the core cast—Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and even Hulk—were well-known properties even before their cinematic dominance. Similarly, when heroes come in groups, as in Guardians of the Galaxy, an odd troop becomes part of the larger herd of justice-enactors.
Eternals takes on the monumental task of developing our interest in a whole new set of characters, from Marvel’s expansive catalog, in a single long try. This is our first encounter with this gang of ancient beings for most viewers, those who are only mildly familiar with comic book lore or who have only seen superheroes on the big screen.
This reviewer believes Eternals is the most narratively daring entry in a formulaic and aesthetically uniform epic stories collection. At its most basic level of emotional stakes, the conflicted ethical position of the characters and how that interacts with historical events sets this powerful person in costume flick apart. To put it another way, this is a defense of Salma Hayek’s Ajak and a complaint about the film’s under-exploration of her.
It’s a group of 10 god-like figures in human bodies whose divine duties often conflict with their sympathy for the mortals on this planet with whom they’ve interacted for thousands of years, directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloé Zhao.
Despite the enormous astronomical problem at its heart, the interpersonal drama takes precedence in Zhao’s fourth feature, despite the colossal astronomical problem at its heart — an entity capable of creating new life in space is soon to be born from Earth’s core, destroying all life. We learn about the various ways in which the benevolent immortals who have come to protect us from the intergalactic beasts known as Deviants have chosen to integrate into our chaotic societies have done so.
Sersi, Kingo, and Phastos are all happily married and have families of their own, respectively, in the film. Salma Hayek’s Ajak, the Prime Eternal, manifests only in a few flashbacks that reveal little about her understanding of the world based on her many experiences in various contexts.
There are, of course, a few members of this team whose stories are a bit thin because of the sheer number of individual subplots. On the other hand, Eternals is billed as a leader, a long-time resident of the land, and the closest link to the almighty Arishem, so the realization that Ajak’s screen time is slashed hurts with particular intensity. In her mythical role and as an actress, Hayek has an inherent richness that has yet to be fully explored. ‘
Hayek was able to play the role of the original female character in the source material because the film adaptation changed the character’s image from a male one to a female one. As the comics’ version of Ajak is never depicted in Eternals, the character’s female incarnation becomes the default mode of presentation. In the timeline of the essence, there is no mention of a transition from male to female. In the eyes of the audience, Ajak always looked like a Mexican star.
Ajak’s journey through millennia was largely obliterated when he underwent that transformation, however. According to the character’s biography, he was mistaken for Tecumotzin and Quetzalcoatl by the Aztec and Inca civilizations in Ajak’s life story. When the Spaniards conquered Tenochtitlan in 1521, there was an opportunity to incorporate Hayek’s Eternal more prominently by combining factual and invented mythologies.
Considering Hayek’s Mexican heritage, the idea of tapping into Ajak’s presence in Latin America is a logical one. It’s free gold not mined not to spend more time exploring how those early cultures’ perceptions of her shaped her worldview, even though the casting may have partially responded to the characters’ backstories.
To put it bluntly, Ajak’s death in the first act in Eternals is apparent why she isn’t more involved in the story over time. After that, Hayek is only mentioned in the context of her colleagues’ fond or harrowing recollections. At the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, she appears to be glowing.
It’s only in one scene that we get a glimpse of how vital Hayek’s role could have been. Ajak tells Richard Madden’s Ikaris about the Eternals’ true mission and humanity’s doomed fate. With equal measures of disdain and admiration, she expresses our propensity for violence and our capacity for love. All she has to work with is witty one-liners. In her forties, what if a Mexican actress starred in her action film?
To a nod to Zhao’s previous films The Rider and Songs My Brothers Taught Me, Salma Hayek’s Ajak rides a horse while dressed in full cowgirl attire in South Dakota. Inconspicuously, the location hints at Ajak’s decision to retire from the glare of the city’s tumultuous streets. Motherly Ajak allows Hayek to give a measured performance, which she has been denied on numerous occasions.
Throughout her recent filmography, she has been asked to portray Latinas in an exaggerated light, lacking the qualities that allow for the nuanced interpretation. When she speaks and moves in Eternals, her demeanor is more like Beatriz at Dinner than Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, a more bold film.
Hayek’s portrayal of wisdom in this Marvel project has a tinge of sadness about it. On the other hand, this is further evidence that her acting skills go beyond what we’ve come to expect from her. A heartbreaking reminder that Hayek is often relegated to the background is also apparent.
Though her character could have made the movie even more revolutionary, she seems to get the short end of the stick in a fragmented film and restricts how much advancement everyone in it enjoys. In full space armor, a Mexican actress in her fifties, and one who has more than earned her stripes in the industry?
Early reviews and discussions about the game have made Eternals a target for critics, who may not be as enthusiastic about it as they once were. As a result, while a sequel could be in the works, spinoffs, especially for characters like Salma Hayek’s Ajak, appear unlikely. However, some of us are still curious about what Ajak’s many centuries of experience with our species could teach us.