Who Are the Eternals in the MCU?

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Marvel’s Eternals is coming to theaters on November 5, 2021, and it will introduce an entirely new branch of characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The sprawling epic directed by Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) will stand apart from the rest of the MCU and bring some lesser-known Marvel Comics characters to the foreground.

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The Eternals
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If you are not sure what to expect from Eternals or even who the main characters are, you are not alone. Hopefully, this guide will shed some light on the Eternals, the Deviants, and everything else you can expect in the new Marvel film.

The Eternals were first introduced in 1976 by Jack Kirby himself. His work on the epic story began in 1970 after he left Marvel to work for DC Comics, specifically, on DC’s New Gods. Kirby had grand ambitions of a cosmic epic that was left unfinished when New Gods was canceled. So, he came back home to Marvel and created The Eternals.

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Characters who make up the Eternals in the MCU

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Eternals will feature a star-studded cast and focus a large group of new characters. It’s roster rivals that of the other Avenger films like Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). But unlike those ensemble casts, the Eternals do not have over a decade of films behind them to build up their characters for fans.

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Which Eternals characters are expected to appear in the new Marvel movie?

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Eternals will introduce:

  • Thena (Angelina Jolie), a warrior based on the Olympian goddess of wisdom and war.
  • Ikaris (Richard Madden), one of the most powerful Eternals who believes he can lead the Avengers now that Steve Rogers AKA Captain America (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark AKA Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) are gone.
  • Sersi (Gemma Chan), she is an Eternal who loves humanity and chooses to live among them. She was even an Avenger for a while.
  • Ajak (Salma Hayek), a gender-swapped version of the spiritual leader of the Eternals.
  • Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), a skilled swordsman who appears to have become a Bollywood star in the MCU.
  • Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-Seok), also known as the Forgotten One who lived among humanity taking on various names like Hercules, Samson, and Beowulf. He was imprisoned for banished for centuries for intervening in human affairs.
  • Druig (Barry Keogah), Ikaris’s cousin who once worked with the KGB.
  • Sprite (Lia McHugh), another gender-swapped character. The trickster eternal looks forever young since she cannot change her appearance.
  • Phastos (Brian Tyree Hendry), he is an engineer and inventor.
  • Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), another gender swap, she is the deaf speedster of the Eternals.
  • Dan Whitman AKA Black Knight (Kit Harrington), Sersi’s human love interest who wields a magical sword known as the Ebony Blade.

It is going to be a lot of work to keep all these characters straight. But as we dive deeper hopefully it will help clear up the confusion.

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How are the Eternals divided by generation?

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The Eternals are immortal beings created by the Celestials – think Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) father Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell) from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017). They were split into five generations, though each generation is not descended from the one before it but are actually reboots from different Marvel Comic Events.

The First Generation were those born before the fall of Titanos, their ancestral home which was somewhere in Northern Canada. The most notable member is Kronos AKA Chronus, who ruled the Eternals, accidentally destroyed Titanos in an experiment that went wrong and made him with one the universe and time itself. The film is not set to feature any member of this generation.

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angelina jolie as thena in the eternals
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The Second Generation of Eternals are those who were alive at the time of the cataclysm of their home. This includes Gilgamesh, who will be the oldest of the Eternals in the film.

The Third Generation are those who were born after the destruction of Titanos but before the second of four tests that Celestials put the Eternals through known as the Second Host. The Third Generation includes Ajak, Ikaris, Thena, Phastos, and in Marvel Comics, Thanos.

The Fourth Generation are those who were born after the Second Host (around 20,000 years ago) but before the Third Host. This includes Druig, Makkari, Sersi, and Kingo. The Fifth Generation is the final generation and are those born after the Third Host (around 3,000 years ago) and includes the youngest member of the Eternals from the film – Sprite.

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Who are the most powerful members of the Eternals?

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The Eternals, also known Homo immortalis, are a race of cosmic powered beings since to look after the human race by the Celestials. While the Eternals have extraordinarily long lives, they are not technically immortal. They also combine as the Uni-Mind, where the Prime Eternal leads a group of at least seven to become a being made of light and energy to help protect Earth. We saw hints of the Uni-Mind in the first Eternals’ trailer.

All of the Eternals possess super strength, speed, and reflexes though there is some variation between the rest. When it comes to listing the most powerful Eternals Kronos, who is one with the entire certainly tops the list. As he became one with the universe, he has a well of knowledge and intelligence to pull from. He is also telepathic with a level of “cosmic awareness” and has been shown to be able to control the souls of the dead.

But of those who are confirmed to appear in the Eternals movie, Ajak (Salma Hayek) was one of their strongest warriors. After being corrupted by the Deviants Ajak killed many other Eternals. Like many Eternals, Ajak is incredibly strong and can manipulate matter on a molecular scale. Ajak also can project cosmic energy blasts from his hands and eyes.

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Ikaris certainly believes himself to be one of the strongest Eternals. And he certainly has some major accomplishments under his belt in the comics. He defeated the first mutant, Apocalypse, and the Silver Surfer. While he has been a member of the Avengers in the past, he never led the team as he jokes about doing in the film.

Angelina Jolie’s Thena is the current leader of the Eternals and can certainly hold her own. She went up against Ikaris in the past and the two have some animosity between them. She can generate and manipulate cosmic energy and can even alter matter.

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How the Eternals were created in the MCU storyline

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The Eternals are a mix of mythology and science fiction, not unlike the Asgardians. It seems that the MCU is intending to keep their origin the same from the comics. Millions of years ago, the Celestials came to Earth and began to experiment on proto-humans. In Marvel Comics, the Celestials helped the hominid population to evolve from apes to humans.

However, beyond producing modern humans the Celestials’ experiments on the inhabitants of ancient Earth created two other races: Deviants and Eternals, who would be forever at odds. Later the Celestials would also introduce the X-gene, which created the mutants.

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What are the origins of the Eternals?

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The Eternals were created to be nearly immortal, perfect beings with extraordinary powers. They lived hidden in secret mountain top cities as humanity unfolded. Occasionally, they would interact with humans to guide them. The Eternals were revered as gods and woven into human mythology from the Aztecs to the Greek and Roman Pantheons.

After their original creation, the Eternals suffered a great schism. Their own civil war ended with war-like brethren known as the Uranians banished, eventually settling on Saturn’s moon Titan. It is from this branch of the Eternals that Thanos was born. In the MCU, Titan was not used as the moon of Saturn but a planet off in the distant galaxy.

Based on what has been released of Eternals footage, their origin in the MCU will be the same. The trailer and synopsis show that the film will span the course of human history.

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Who were the Celestials?

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The Celestials were a primordial race of godlike beings who traveled the universe conducting genetic experiments for unknown reasons. They were created by the first cosmos itself, known as the First Firmament. Alone in the universe, he created the first life. The Aspirants remained beside him to keep him company as the Celestials separated and went on to create their own cosmos with their own versions of life.

Their cosmos would eventually collapse and be reborn. This cycle would repeat until the Sixth Cosmos when Knull, the god of darkness who ruled the void, decapitated a Celestial. The head would become the mining city and space station of Knowhere as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy. It is very rare for a Celestial to be killed, though two were lost during the First Host on Earth and Peter Quill killed his Celestial father, Ego.

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knowhere from guardians of the galaxy celestial head
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The Celestials pop up from time to time in comics to utter destruction. It was during the Second Host that they sank the city of Atlantis, which may show up in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. They also have an ongoing and utterly one-sided conflict with the Watchers. As the Watchers have sworn to never interfere with lesser beings they have never acted in this conflict against the Celestials, who are always interfering with lesser beings.

Marvel fans first saw the Watchers in Guardians Vol 2 when Stan Lee cameoed as their informant. And we will get to see more of the Watchers in the upcoming What If…? series where Jeffrey Wright will voice Uatu the Watcher.

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Why were the Eternals created?

Marvel Comics Deviants
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The Celestials created both the Deviants and the Eternals to keep humanity in check over the course of history. The goal was to allow humans to evolve until they would begin mutating with special powers naturally.

This has led to many Eternals fan theories including the introduction of the MCU’s first mutants. The Celestials broke off from the First Firmament to try to influence life throughout the universe through genetic manipulation. They were fixated on the humans of Earth because of how versatile the human genome was.

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How the Eternals relate to other MCU characters

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The Eternals and Thanos have been connected in the comics since their origins. It is not clear if the MCU will keep Thanos as an offshoot of the Eternals or not. Richard Madden’s Ikaris claims that he could step up to lead the Avengers and he has done so in the comics. Now that they are finally stepping out of the shadows it is time to learn how the Eternals fit in with the cast of characters fans already love.

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How do the Eternals fit into the greater MCU storyline?

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The MCU’s Eternals were notably absent from Infinity War and Endgame. They have seemingly been hidden among Earth’s Mightiest Heroes since the begging. In Marvel Comics, the Celestials ordered them to stay out of human affairs. When Gilgamesh tried to become a hero, he was banished so they take this rule very seriously.

They may have been sitting on the sidelines in Marvel’s Phases 1-3 but in Phase 4, the MCU is getting a brand new threat that is directly tied to the Eternals – their archenemies, the Deviants. It is only that the Deviants are now involved that they can step up to the plate.

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What are some popular theories about how the Eternals fit into the greater MCU storyline?

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We do not know what the Eternals have been doing throughout human history, but now that they are finally stepping out, it is clear that Marvel has been planning for the cosmic-powered heroes. Even as the MCU expands to fill its new Multiverse, the main cast of characters are venturing onward into the cosmic corners of the Marvel universe.

The upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, The Marvels, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 will take Marvel fans to new worlds beyond Earth. This leaves two possible paths for the Eternals. They can fill the void left by these characters or venture out to confront their creators, the Celestials. Others suspect that if Sersi and Dane would have a child it would be the MCU’s first mutant.

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What is the relationship between the Eternals and Avengers?

kumail nanjani as kingo in theeternals
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The Eternals are definitely aware of the Avengers and so it is probably safe to assume that Deviants are as well. The fact that now that they lost so many of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes could be why the Deviants feel that is now safe to come out in the open.

By the end of Eternals, it is likely that the remaining Avengers like Sam Wilson AKA Captain America (Anthony Mackie) will become aware of the super-powered aliens that have been hiding on Earth. In the comics, the two groups do not have much interaction though a few Eternals have become Avengers.

Some theorists are predicting that they might become the villains of Phase 4 or 5.

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When the Eternals first appeared in the MCU

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Technically the Eternals have been there all along. The trailer for Eternals shows a few moments throughout history when they have come out hiding, including Babylon. The film will span their entire time on Earth but the main focus will take place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, sometime after the year 2023. The Deviants led by Kro have chosen to emerge then.

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How do some fan theories suggest that the Eternals have already appeared in the MCU?

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There have been theories that the Eternals were set up earlier in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Guardians of the Galaxy, the Collector, Taneleer Tivan (Benicio Del Toro) explains to the Guardians how the Infinity Stones were created. He shows the image of a Celestial named Eson, the Searcher, destroying a planet with the Power Stone.

He then shows a group of people using the stone for a moment, like the Guardians will later in the film. The theory goes that the only others we see hold the Power Stone and survive included Peter Quill, the son of Celestial, that these people might be another offshoot of the Eternals.

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Which MCU characters are suspected to be Eternals?

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Another fan theory suggests that Asgardians like Thor (Chris Hemsworth) are another branch of the Eternal family tree. This is not true in Marvel Comics, but the two races share similar characteristics: they both have a very long life, and humans have called them both gods. Though Asgardians like Odin (Anthony Hopkins) have died of old age.

There is still so much we do not know about the Eternals and how they will fit into the MCU. Come back here for more information on their upcoming movie as more is revealed.

Let us know in the comments below if you are excited to see this new group of superheroes join the MCU!

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