Discussion Packet

Eternals (2021) – Discussion Guide

Discussion Guide:

  1. Who was your favorite character? Why is that?
    Caregiver Note: While this question will appear to be “fluff”, this is a good way to start discussing hard topics. Just jumping into hard questions is often difficult for most adults, let alone youth who struggle with interpersonal relationships and trusting adults. Allow your youth to discuss characters they appreciate and why to gain insight into where your youth may be emotionally and mentally with associating with such characters. I don’t advise this as clinical advice, but if you talk more about the movie this may help you make other connections later as a caregiver. 
  2. Why were the Eternals so upset when they discovered they weren’t alive but were cyborgs?
    Caregiver Note: The Eternals certainly had a lot of emotions to process with these new revelations! Not only were they deceived for the purpose of their mission but their entire identities were a lie. This is enough to fracture anyone emotionally and mentally, and it’s no wonder Thena (who retained some memories from before) had so much mental scarring that manifested in the symptoms of Mahd Wy’ry. Much like the Eternals, if teens aren’t aware of their origins they may also become irate and confused upon learning of their origins. I’ve seen this especially for youth who were never told they were adopted until they found out. Please consider being honest with your child in an age-appropriate manner when discussing why they may have been adopted or in foster care. Without the truth youth will fill in the blanks with their own imaginations and can become lost in their identity with imagined facts. In reality caregivers should strive to be supported for their youth while they integrate their pasts with their presents to develop their own identities for the future. 
  3. How were the Eternals able to change their destiny to follow their hearts?
    Caregiver Note: Upon knowing the truth and being able to process the truth each Eternal was able to reconcile the past in some way and decide for themselves how to pursue their dreams for the future, for themselves and for the humans they share Earth with. In the same way, for youth to become successful adults they need the support to walk through these hard emotions and thoughts to integrate themselves and move forward following the grief cycle. Why would they grieve? Grieve what could have been, grieve the family they could have had, grieve for anything that has been lost. Only by working through the grief cycle successfully can we move towards acceptance and find a new normal and youth are not the exception to healing in this manner. This can be hard as we love our kids and don’t want them to hurt. However, if we can be the shoulder they lean on while they walk through the grief that is the best support we can ever offer a hurting child.
  4. What are some ways you can take what you learn about yourself to follow your heart?
    Caregiver Note: Let your teen lead this part of the conversation. This may be a topic that gets discussed more later as a child grows and develops more abstract thought. While it helps to have movie characters to represent the integration and grief process every youth’s journey of self-discovery will be unique and will take different amounts of time. It’s also good to check in periodically as your child grows and understands more with age and develops more self-awareness of their identity and trauma.

  5. ACTIVITY: Square Breathing Technique
    Caregiver Note: This is a great technique that works best in a quiet, comfortable space but can ultimately be done almost anywhere when things are feeling chaotic. In my experience, children often learn that “deep breaths” are good but when discussing the mechanics of such exercises they often struggle with steps on how to know how to do these breaths to reach a state of calm. The square breathing technique will help give something more tangible for a child to understand how this works.

    First, sit upright in a comfortable chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. Then, place your hands upwards on your lap and close your eyes. Take a deep breath for 4 seconds through your nose, noticing how your body feels as air floods your lungs and abdomen. Hold for 4 additional seconds. Release your breath for 4 seconds through your mouth, noticing how your body feels as the air escapes your belly and chest. Hold for 4 more seconds. Repeat this sequence 3 more times. Once you finish, take note of how you feel. Where are your shoulders? Do you feel dizzy? How does your neck feel? If you do feel dizzy, take a few moments with normal breaths to come back to baseline. Deep breaths help regulate our Autonomic Nervous System, which is a part of that fight-or-flight response so we often will experience calm after doing such an exercise.

    If your kid needs help, here is a clip you can loop for a visual tool for breaths!

  6. Which characters seem really close to one another?
    Caregiver Note: While there are many waxing and waning relationships among the Eternals the most long-lasting relationships are found in honesty and loyalty. For this reason Thena and Gilgamesh have a close relationship and Druig and Makkari maintain respect and trust for each other even after being separated for so long.

  7. Which characters have the most tension between one another? Why is that?
    Caregiver Note: Just as some characters have close ties that surpass time and space others have more strife and conflict. This includes the triad of Sprite, Ikaris, and Sersi due to deceit and hidden feelings as well as Ajak with most of the group for withholding the true mission. Though Ajak, and later Ikaris, withheld their knowledge out of love for their teammates the deception ultimately breaks down these relationships due to the guilt of withholding secrets and the divides that guilt creates. This is also why Sprite harboring secret feelings for Ikaris affects her actions in regards to him (e.g. – following him after the Eternals split) and with Sersi (whom she regards with contempt and jealousy for her past relationship with Ikaris and her ability to move on due to appearing human). Sometimes it is believed that “white lies” can be helpful but in reality deceptions are lies and are not beneficial to maintaining long-lasting bonds with others.
  8. The characters with tension seem to struggle with honesty. Who seems to struggle with honesty the most?
    Caregiver Note: It appears throughout the film that characters who struggle most with honesty struggle most with trusting others and believing they will be rejected. While Ajak focuses more on wanting the others to live freely and happily, Ikaris and Sprite both fear the rejection that could occur once the truth is discovered. This is indicative of someone who fears abandonment and is driven more by fear than logic. Children who come from hard places may identify with this as they may feel their fears of abandonment are affirmed from being removed from their family by telling truths about their abuse and neglect. In the short term, they see the pain of separation temporarily while repair could happen rather than seeing the long-term ramifications of not being able to trust others.

  9. Did not telling the truth help any character in the movie? Why not?
    Caregiver Note: Lying certainly did not serve any Eternal well through this film. Characters who lied eventually either died, were seriously hurt, or had those that they loved placed in great danger. This really highlighted how deception, whether ill or well intended, has lasting consequences.

  10. What are some ways that can help us feel more comfortable with telling the truth?
    Caregiver Note: Allow your youth to talk through this with minimal guidance. Be prepared to take criticism too as sometimes we may hear that our reactions to misbehavior or bad choices may trigger a child to lie. Some children with trauma may have learned that telling the truth leads to pain and suffering from before foster care or adoption and carry the scars from this pain, emotionally or physically. Remember too to consider your reaction when a child tells the truth. Always praise your teen for telling the truth. Remember too, you were young once yourself and mistakes were much easier to rectify with a stronger, wiser adult by your side. Strive to be that stronger, wiser adult too.

About the Reviewer: Rachael Rathe

Rachael B. Rathe is an East Tennessee native with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in
Psychology with a Minor in Child & Family Studies from The University of Tennessee
Knoxville. She has worked in mental health since 2013 and in foster care/adoptions for a private provider agency since 2014. Rachael was inspired to work in the field after
working with children and teens on a volunteer basis 2008 – 2013. Rachael’s ideal
self-care day involves snuggling on a couch with her kitties (Tabitha, Fergus, and Rufus) while enjoying a good movie or book. She also enjoys galavanting around conventions concerning all things nerd and geekery.

Transfiguring Adoption is a nonprofit organization seeking to nurture growth in foster and adoptive
families by giving a HOOT about their families. Transfiguring Adoption does not intend for its
reviewers nor its reviews to be professional, medical or legal advice. These reviews and discussion
guides are intended to help parents to better be able to connect and understand their children who
come from traumatic backgrounds

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