Who Are Marvel’s The Eternals?
Whenever an obscure Marvel comic book’s property or character hits the mainstream in the Marvel Cinematic Universe I take a deep dive into their history. Sometimes that’s reading a few issues of their books and sometimes it’s spending the better part of a day lost in Wikis and Fan Sites. Sometimes it’s enlightening and my excitement grows and sometimes I’m left scratching my head wondering how Marvel is going to turn this into a billion-dollar franchise. As for who are The Eternals? It’s the latter, so join me as I give you a brief rundown on the god-adjacent beings who definitely are not just another Inhumans-like group.
Who Are The Eternals?
Put as simply as possible, The Eternals are an off-shoot of Humanity that was experimented on and created by the Celestials. The Celestials are a powerful alien cosmic race that has nothing better to do than go around the universe and put their hands in every pot they can find.
The Celestials created not just the Eternals, but the Deviants as well who are described as being grotesque. One hundred of each of these groups were created and sent to earth. If this ‘origin’ sounds familiar, that’s because the Kree Race essentially did the same thing with their own experiments on earth which would later become Inhumans.
An interesting note here, in the history of the Marvel world The Eternals were created first, one million years ago. The Inhumans would come from Kree experiments 250,000 laters. But, in real life, the Inhumans were created first and appeared in Fantastic Four #45 in 1965 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby while The Eternals first debuted in 1976 and were created by Jack Kirby.
Gods Among Men
Unlike most ‘superhero’ teams, the Eternals weren’t just a small cluster of individuals. They were an entire race and have their own history and culture. While the Eternals started out on earth, throughout their million years of history, their war and peace with the deviants, they spanned our galaxy and the universe. They made civilizations on Saturn’s moon Titan and on Uranus. In fact, the mad Titan Thanos, the one responsible for the Infinity War, was born if a Uranian Eternal.
The history of the Eternals is in how they interacted with each other, the deviants, and the human race in between four separate visits by the Celestials. Some of these visits resulted in the Eternals, humans, and deviants being wiped out and restarted. Included in these events, was the sinking of the great city of Atlantis.
Much of their history is closely tied to various mythologies and gods. The Eternals, for example, met with Zeus and the Greek Gods of Olympus, where both sides decided that the Eternals would serve as the gods’ representatives on earth. The Eternals’ interactions with the Incas, Aztecs, and Mayans empires led to some of them taking on the names of gods of those peoples as well.
What Will The Eternals Be About?
The biggest question on everyone’s minds at this point is, with such a huge history what will this movie actually be about? The answer to that isn’t an easy one to answer even after reading through so much history. To me, it’s long, it’s convoluted and if Marvel is about to pull it off it’ll be nothing short of a miracle. But, it’s not the first time they’ve had to do that in the history of the MCU.
Guardians of the Galaxy was another unknown, unproven property that Marvel was able to spin into gold. It’s likely that what we see in theaters when The Eternals hits on November 5th will be something entirely new. I have no doubt we’ll learn of the past and it’ll still be loosely tied to the comics canon, but Marvel has shown they aren’t afraid to do something new with their movies.
The little we do know is that the Eternals have lived on earth for thousands of years, as the trailer shows them helping to shape civilization. Despite saying they don’t interfere, we see them creating water to help grow crops and sharing other gifts and technology that leads to the rise of some of the greatest cities in human history. From various synopsis that Marvel has released the Eternals will need to fight against their ancient enemies the Deviants. It’s unlikely that we’ll see much play from any Celestial forces, but it’s not entirely out of the question.
It’s also a good bet that the events of the Avengers Endgame and Thanos’ time on Earth are one of the things that have finally pushed the Eternals to act. In the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Phase 4, I believe that The Eternals will serve to provide more lore and backstory on the cosmic past of the universe and provide more ties and context clues to whatever the next looming threat of the MCU is. In the same way that Thor: Dark World started to lay the foundation for the Infinity Stones, The Eternals is likely to provide context on what is next.
Marvel Studios The Eternals releases in theaters on November 5th and is directed by Chloé Zhao. It stars Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington, Kumail Nanjiani, and more.
Feature Image Screenshot of Marvel Studios’ Eternals Trailer