Marvel Studios is currently hard at work prepping a new film starring even more of their beloved, undeniably iconic characters – The Eternals.
If you just heard a record scratch when we said “Eternals,” you’re probably not alone.
Though created by Marvel mastermind Jack Kirby, these psychedelic 70s characters aren’t exactly household names – though they’ve got ties to some of the deepest aspects of the Marvel Universe.
So who are the Eternals – other than the stars of the upcoming film from director Chloe Zhao? To sum it up, they’re ancient space deities who live on Earth but who have connections to the Skrulls, the Kree, the Celestials, and even Thanos and the other denizens of Titan, but who also sometimes save the world.
Not specific enough? Don’t worry. We’re about to break down exactly who and what the Eternals are – and how they could change everything for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
And, to learn more about the specific Eternals coming to the MCU, check out our rundown of the cast right here.
In The Beginning
Much of Marvel Universe history – especially the weirdest parts – all stems back to the Celestials, colossal cosmic beings who wield power over life and death, and who conduct far-reaching experiments on living things. Like many of Marvel’s cosmic beings, the Celestials were attracted to Earth. Finding it the perfect petri dish for their experiments, they seeded two new races – the cosmically powerful Eternals and the monstrously grotesque Deviants.
The Eternals and Deviants have lived on Earth separate from humanity since the dawn of man, with the Eternals, who are nigh immortal and possessed of incredible super powers, often intervening to protect humanity from the monsters of the Deviants or other threats.
The power of the Eternals doesn’t stem entirely from the Celestials though – experiments by some of the earliest Celestials led to a massive energy influx that activated the Eternals latent cosmic genes, granting them even greater, almost unlimited power.
Some Eternals, such as Ikarus, Makkari, Sersi, and Gilgamesh, have even taken direct roles in teams like the Avengers.
But the story of the Eternals doesn’t stop on Earth.
Infinite Combinations, Infinite Diversity
Like all good scientists, the Celestials were not content to stop their experiments at seeding life on just one world. Traveling back into the reaches of the Universe, the Celestials repeated their experiment on the Skrull and Kree homeworlds, leading to some similarities between the Skrull and the Deviants, and even to the Kree conducting their own genetic experiments, which resulted in the creation of the Inhumans.
And of course, the Mad Titan Thanos himself has a connection to the Eternals. Following a civil war among the earthbound Eternals over whether to conquer the other races of the Earth or not, an Eternal named A’Lars, one of the oldest of the group, left Earth and colonized Saturn’s moon Titan with Eternals – and of course with Deviants, who occasionally arise from Eternals, as is the case with Thanos, who is himself a Deviant.
As for the Deviants, on Earth, they lived in cities such as Mu and Atlantis – strongholds that were sunk to the bottom of the ocean during a war with the Celestials.
The Eternal Struggle
So with the Eternals coming to the MCU, what could this mean for the cosmic landscape that’s already been set forth?
Though the Eternals as a concept aren’t particularly well known, as a way to expand the MCU’s cosmic palette (and tie together a new era of the studio’s continuity), the Eternals make perfect sense. With ties to the Celestials (one of the great unexplored plot points glimpsed in the MCU so far) and the Kree, the arrival of an earthbound race with ties to these already established story elements would certainly alter the landscape of the MCU, placing Earth even more directly in the galactic stage.
But there’s an important, key ingredient to all this that's already a part of the MCU – namely Captain Marvel, which went even deeper into Kree mythology and introduced the Skrull.
The exact role the Eternals will play in the MCU remains to be seen - the villain they'll face hasn't even been announced. However, we already know that they'll be connected to the Celestials, and that the Deviants will also factor in.
But how deep with their connections to the MCU be explored? Will the Deviants' ties to Thanos come into play? Could Eternals introduce Atlantis, Namor, and more Marvel locations and concepts?
With a history as long, storied, and obscure as the Eternals, anything is possible.