Marvel Studios’ Eternals opens in theaters this Friday, November 5, and it introduces a new set of characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Chloé Zhao helms this new direction in MCU storytelling. In talking about the film, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, said in an interview with D23, “In a post-Infinity Saga world, we wanted to take a bold new step and say, ‘You don’t know everything about the universe yet. There are 10 spectacular heroes you haven’t met who have been here the whole time.”
Here are some things you need to know about the Eternals and their corner of the MCU:
1] The Eternals are a group of ancient immortal beings who work on behalf of the Celestials, who are gigantic beings that are the architects of life itself. The Eternals have protected the Earth since the dawn of man.
2] Their main enemy are called the Deviants, and they are a race of alien predators. For centuries, they were thought to have been all destroyed after being defeated by the Eternals.
3] The characters were created by the legendary comics writer and artist Jack Kirby, who is also a Disney Legend, and they first appeared in “The Eternals” #1, which hit shelves in July of 1976.
4] Following the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, the sudden reappearance of all those people 5 years after their disappearance (aka “The Blip”) created enough cosmic energy to awaken the Deviants.
5] Because of this, the Eternals, who went their separate ways and forged their own lives, need to reunite to face the renewed threat from their ancient foes.
6] While they had the power to take on various past tyrants and villains in the MCU history, like Thanos, they were forbidden to intervene in human wars and strife by the Celestials, unless it was caused by the Deviants.
7] The Eternals have names that resemble gods or other characters from various mythologies. Legends say they were the originals, and they were mistaken for gods or otherwise inspired mythic characters.
8] The matriarch and spiritual leader of the group, is Ajak, who was originally a male character in the comics. In the film Ajak is now played by actress Salma Hayek, and is the only Eternal with the ability to telepathically communicate directly with the Celestials. Cosmic energy pulses through Ajak, which gives her the power to heal her fellow Eternals, as well as animals and humans.
9] Thena, portrayed by Angelina Jolie, can create weapons out of cosmic energy that morph at her will during battle, making her a fierce fighter. However, she also struggles with PTSD from previous battles, and that sometimes affects her mental state.
10] Ikaris, played by Richard Madden, is also a leader of the Eternals, and is originally portrayed as the group’s moral compass. After the Deviants reappear, he embarks on a mission to reunite the team. His powers include incredible strength, the power to fly, and he can project cosmic energy beams from his eyes. If that sounds like a certain DC superhero, well, the movie briefly addresses this.
11] Dependable and caring, Sersi (played by Gemma Chan) has the power of matter transmutation, meaning she can change the makeup of any non-sentient material she touches. She has had an on-and-off relationship with Ikaris for over a thousand years, but as we first meet her in the movie, she works as a curator at the Natural History Museum in London and has a close relationship with a human named Dane Whitman (played by Kit Harrington).
12] While others have kept to the shadows since the Eternals went their separate ways, Kingo (played by Kumail Nanjiani) chose to become a Bollywood movie star. He is almost always accompanied by his longtime valet and best friend Karun (Haris Patel), and Kingo’s power is the ability to create powerful cosmic energy blasts from his hands.
13] A fierce warrior, Gilgamesh (played by Don Lee) gains incredible strength in battle as he summons a golden, cosmic energy-enhanced exoskeleton to shield his arms and fists. He is Thena’s closest friend in the Eternals. In the comic books, he is referred to as the “Forgotten One”, because he spends the majority of his life with humankind, and he is thought to be the basis of the mythologial Greek figure Hercules.
14] Makkari is another Eternal that has become female in the MCU, and she is played by deaf actress Lauren Ridloff, making this the first deaf MCU superhero. Makkari harnesses cosmic energy to make her the fastest woman in the universe. She doesn’t just run fast, she does everything fast.
15] Every group of heroes has a tech person, and in the Eternals, that is Phastos (played by Bryan Henry Tyree). He is one of the smartest people in the universe, a technopath (has the ability that allows one to naturally understand technology), and is a master inventor. He also controls the Eternals’ starship, the Domo. In recent years, he has been living a quiet life with his husband Ben, and their son.
16] Sprite (played by Lia McHugh) has the appearance of a 12-year-old girl, but has the temperment of a cranky old lady in a child’s body, which is understandable as she is 7,000 years old. Sprite has the power to make herself and others invisible, as well as the ability to cast lifelike illusions. Sprite is another gender-swapped version of the comic book character.
17] The final main Eternal in this film is Druig (played by Barry Keoghan). He has the powerful ability to control other people’s minds using his cosmic energy, which has caused him to be intense and withdrawn. In the film, he’s also extremely close to Makkari.
18] Remember Dane Whitman, mentioned earlier with Sersi? In the film he’s introduced as a human co-worker and love interest, but comic fans will recognize the name as one of the people to hold the title of the Marvel hero Black Knight. Are we meeting a future spin-off character with Dane, or is the name just coincidental? I find it hard to believe Marvel would use the name without future plans for the character.
19] While not much is known about the Celestials prior to this movie, this is not their first appearance in the MCU. The first Guardians of the Galaxy (GOTG) actually featured two Celestials. Eson the Searcher is briefly seen in a vision of the past, wielding the Power Stone. In that same movie, the spaceport and mining colony of Knowhere is actually the severed head of another ancient Celestial being.
20] But perhaps the best known Celestial in the MCU to date is Ego, the Living Planet, from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Played by Disney legend Kurt Russell, Ego is the father of Peter Quill. This makes Star-Lord half-Celestial, which is why he was able to handle the effects of the Power Stone touching his bare hands at the end of the first GOTG, and why Ego wanted to harness Quill’s power for his own use in GOTGv2.
Marvel Studios’ Eternals is the 25th film in the MCU, and I hope you go see it with an open mind to learning about new characters instead of expectations of what you think a Marvel movie should be.
Don’t forget to wait at the end…my sources tell me the movie has two end-credit scenes.
Here is a trailer to further introduce you to Eternals: