Spoiler alert, duh.
Thought-experiment time. Imagine the classic movie Frankenstein was just about a dead corpse, plain as that, just a whole movie about a flat, dead, sewn-together corpse lying on a mad scientist’s table. And only in the final seconds of the movie — maybe for one minute tops — was the corpse brought to life.
That’s what it felt like watching Harry Styles show up for one minute at the end of Eternals. After more than two and a half hours of mid-tier Marvel, Styles swaggers in as Starfox, also known as Eros, Thanos’s brother. Naturally, he shares a name with the Greek god of love and sex. Naturally, he is played by a modern-day god of love and sex who went on record labeling his sexuality as simply “fun.” The comic-book character, who dates back to the horny ’70s, is basically an absolutely shredded Zapp Brannigan. He sure looks the part …
… But what the fuck is going on with his accent?
In Styles’s brief moments on screen, he appears to have taken multiple classes at the Nicole Kidman Finishing School for Ambiguous Accent Work. When he says, “What a pleasure to make your acquaintance, my fellow Eternals,” he sounds like a ’luded-up Aussie. He’s not quite pronouncing it fellaur, but it’s halfway there. Styles’s drawl is noncommittal, though. When he tells his little troll friend, Pip, “You know, you really don’t have to do the whole thing every time,” it sounds mostly American, except he puts some stank on the o in whole. When he says, “I’m Eros, and this is Pip,” it sounds flat and accent free as anything, but when he says, “And you are as beautiful as legends say,” it’s full Russian mobster. When he warns the Eternals that their friends are “in biiiig trouble,” it’s got an Irish lilt to it, and his final line — “We know where to find them” — is the closest thing to his natural, relaxed, English rock-star voice. It’s all very baffling. Choices were certainly made.
My friend who watched with me suggested this is just his normal voice. She insisted there was nothing weird about it — that’s just how Styles speaks. This was intriguing. I could believe that a celebrity who has been touring the globe since age 16 would end up with a diluted, vaguely British sort of international accent. And sure enough, I watched some interviews with him, and it’s kind of true: Styles speaks with an amalgam of some real wonky vowels. It’s half regional northern, half alien who learned to speak English exclusively from warped tapes of H2O: Just Add Water. This clarified some of the weirdness. I had chalked up Styles’s shifting accents to his interpretation of what a galaxy-trotting alien sex explorer would sound like, but it turns out that may just be how you sound when you’re a global, megafamous celebrity.
However, he is definitely going for flat-out American in some of these line readings, especially when he’s arguing with Pip and introducing himself as Eros. It sounds as if he’s putting on a little Buzz Lightyear voice. So I have to think the rest of this slippage is unintentional — maybe Styles reached for an accent he couldn’t quite hit. He flew too close to the sun like Icarus … or, I guess, Ikaris. But there is still time to grab some pointers from Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Holland before his next appearance, and it’s not a deal-breaker. Let’s just say we’re not watching Harry Styles as an alien sex fiend for the intricate vocal work. ;)
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