With the Eternals film coming out soon you may be wondering, “Who are these Marvel characters?” Well, the Eternals represent one of Marvel’s oldest and most diverse groups of superheroes and collectives the company has to offer.
The team has always had some of the most interesting and healthy mix of men, women, and children to offer. Whether it’s Ikaris (Ick-are-us), Sersi (Sir-see), and Zuras (Zoo-ras) or Thena (Thee-na), Sprite, and Makkari (Muh-car-ee), the team is as rooted in ancient mythology as Thor, Loki, and Odin. Even the names themselves are rooted in Greek and Roman mythology. Makkari is often mistaken for Mercury, Thena mistaken for Athena, Kronos, or several of the other Eternals having names that can be found in the pantheon of other cultural gods.
How They Fit Into the MCU
But while there 100 Eternals compared to thousands of Deviants — we’ll get to the Deviants later — the principle team known as the Eternals is really only about 10-15 main Eternals. For the purposes of the upcoming film, that count comes in at ten — Sersi, Ikaris, Kingo, Sprite, Phastos (Fas-tus), Makkari, Druig (Droo-ig), Gilgamesh, Ajak, and Thena. Missing from the film is the Prime Eternal, Zuras, from the comics. Eros (Air-os), also known as Starfox in the comics, and his half-Eternal and half-Deviant brother, Thanos, and their father A’lars, also known as Mentor are also missing from the film but there are rumors they may appear in some capacity. Dane Whitman AKA the Black Knight will be in the film, but he is neither Eternal nor Deviant. Instead, he is a human in possession of the Ebony Blade.
It’s a likely bet that the film is sure to address the fact that Thanos is half-Eternal and half-Deviant before the credits roll — or even after the credits roll in the case of Marvel. Even before the Infinity Saga, Thanos was the most well-known member of the race, and for good reason. Wipeout half the planet and people will remember your name. But for all the Eternals people, that’s about how many Deviants people forget. To be fair, they’re sort of like the Beekeeper A.I.M. employees, which is just a colloquialism for your standard AIM employee wearing an outfit that resembles a beekeeper, or the masked Hydra employees that the Avengers usually defeat en masse before facing off against the big bad.
So, who are the Eternals? Before we get into the specifics of the individual Eternals themselves, let’s talk about the how and why of it all. By now most people should be more than familiar with the Celestials in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ve seen several of them in the MCU already. While he’s not a Celestial in the comics, Ego, from Guardians of the Galaxy, is a Celestial in the MCU. We’ve also seen Eson the Searcher in the Collector’s explanation of the Infinity Stones. Additionally, we’ve seen the severed head of a Celestial functioning as the criminal haven Knowhere — where the Guardians meet up with the Collector to sell the orb. We’re going to see more of the Celestials in Eternals.
What Are The Eternals?
The basic premise behind the Eternals is that a long time ago the Celestials came to Earth and they experimented on the primitive Earth lifeforms. These experimentations resulted in three beings left on Earth. They had the Eternals, the Deviants, and Humans with mutant genes. This is how folks like Captain America were able to survive being injected with the Super Soldier serum and then being blasted with radiation and Vita-Rays.
It also explains how different beings were able to withstand the various different experiments in the Weapons Plus Program, which saw Captain America as the first human being to join the program. The program was originally created to be the death of mutants on a large scale, but it eventually being experimenting on mutants leading to it’s most potent creation, Weapon X or Wolverine. But getting back to the point, the Celestials would leave their experiments for a pre-determined length of time and then they would come back and judge the experiment a success or failure. If it’s determined to be a failure, they wipe out the experiment and start over.
This is exactly what happened the first time around when the Deviants decided their place was to rule humanity and they enslaved the entire human population and had them working around their capital city of Lumeria. The Celestials came back and saw that the Eternals had abandoned their role as humanity’s protector and that the Deviants had enslaved humanity, judged it to be a failure, and they wiped out the entire capital city of Lumeria, sinking it to the bottom of the ocean where it became another mainstay in Marvel comics, Atlantis.
So, despite few comic fans knowing their history or how the Eternals shaped Marvel Comics in a major way, the protectors of humanity have a rich and storied history within the comics and this film could introduce and explain mutants, Atlanteans, the Kree, the Skrulls, the Cotati, and much, much more. That’s how much the Celestials, Eternals, and Deviants have to do with the rest of Marvel. They’re basically the lynchpin for everything important.
Meeting the Team
But what about the Eternals themselves? Let’s go over the different characters, their powers, and their connection to a larger mythology, if appropriate. Each Eternal comes with a different set of powers. While all Eternals have invulnerability, superhuman strength, endurance, cosmic energy, and the ability to create the Uni-Mind, which is when all of the Eternals connect with one another to create a psionic being of immense proportions, most Eternals also possess the ability to control and read minds, create blasts, flight, creating illusions, and teleportation. How good the different Eternals are at these abilities varies from Eternal to Eternal. Depending on the Eternal, how they direct their cosmic energy will also vary. Let’s go ahead and get into how they direct their cosmic energy.
Ikaris is the leader of the Eternals in the comics. While Zuras is the Prime Eternal in most runs, that honor has also gone to Ikaris. The MCU will feature Sersi as the leader of the Eternals, while her on-again, off-again relationship with Ikaris means he will have some measure of leadership in the MCU. In the comics, Ikaris is often the general for the Eternals when they go into battle. He possesses the ability to shoot blasts from his eyes and fly at speeds the other Eternals could only dream of. He can also teleport himself but generally prefers not to do so. Richard Madden plays Ikaris in the film.
The main focus of the upcoming Eternals film, Sersi will likely step into the role of the Prime Eternal. Her Eternal power is the ability to transmute matter on a molecular level. Simply put, she can create and change matter on a whim. We see this effect in the trailer of the film when a hand touches the dirt and water flows forth from the hand. In the comics, Sersi has been an Avenger as well as one of the primary Eternals. We’ll see how they choose to portray her in the film, but all sourced info seems to establish that Gemma Chan will be the star of this film and the main character around which a love story is built. As it is in the comics, Sersi will be dating Dane Whitman AKA the Black Knight. But we also see her having dated Ikaris, but the two likely grow apart over time leading to her relationship with Whitman. Gemma Chan plays Sersi in the film.
For the purposes of the Eternals film, Kingo has been changed from a samurai to a Bollywood star. Kingo can create cosmic weapons with his hands. He’s a master swordsman and one of the group’s best fighters. He understands the creation of weapons and might be the second-best fighter the Eternals have outside of Thena. His obsession with fame is sure to be one of the highlights of the film with his cameraman following him around and gathering film for his upcoming documentary. Kumail Nanjiani plays Kingo in the film.
Sprite is the only Eternal to appear as a child for all of eternity. She has the ability to manipulate matter and cast illusions. Depending on the story, Sprite is oftentimes up to no good. The best way to describe Sprite is as the Loki of the Eternals. Sprite wiped the minds of all of the Eternals in the Neil Gaiman run during 2006. At the end of that run, Zuras snapped Sprite’s neck, killing Sprite. Sprite is one of Chloe Zhao’s gender-swapped characters. Lia McHugh plays Sprite in the film.
He is the investor of the group and will be the first gay superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Phastos normally swings a Celestial hammer capable of creating precision strikes that create rather than destroy. Phastos will be living with his husband in the film. Some of Phastos’ abilities to create and invent can be seen in the trailer, where he shows off his ability to wield Celestial technology. Brian Tyree Henry plays Phastos in the film.
Often mistaken for the Roman god Mercury, Makkari is able to move at super speeds and is often deployed as a scout due to his speed. While Makkari’s speed varies depending on the writer, he’s not as fast as some of the other heroes like Quicksilver and has been beaten pretty handily in a race featuring some of Marvel’s fastest characters. The MCU version of Makkari is female instead of male and is going to be the first deaf superhero in MCU history. In fact, Makkari’s deafness allows her to travel at super speeds without being affected by the sonic booms. Lauren Ridloff plays Makkari in the film.
Druig possesses cosmic energy capable of controlling the minds of other beings. While all Eternals possess the ability to control minds to some degree, Druig takes this to the next level and is often using it for foul means and ends. Druig has partnered up with Deviants on more than one occasion because he’s become disenchanted with the notion of helping humanity throughout the ages. Between Druig and Sprite, the Eternals often have their hands full with shenanigans. Barry Keoghan plays Druig in the film.
The strongest Eternal and capable of projecting armor from cosmic energy. He is often called the Forgotten One and has on more than one occasion fought his fellow Eternals due to being manipulated by Druig. The MCU version of Gilgamesh is partnered up with Thena after they’re exiled from the other Eternals. Don Lee plays Gilgamesh in the film.
Yet another Eternal who has been genderswapped for the purposes of the MCU, Ajak possesses one of the most critical abilities of all in her ability to speak with the Celestials. She is the healer of the group and the primary means of communicating with the Celestials, makers of the Eternals. Ajak is often mistaken for Ajax the Greater or Ajax the Lesser. Salma Hayek plays Ajak in the film.
Thena is the warrior queen of the Eternals. She is capable of creating weapons out of cosmic energy and has been the Prime Eternal throughout the ages. Thena is the daughter of Zuras and is often mistaken for Athena. Thena has on more than one occasion had forbidden relationships with a Deviant. There are very few people or battles that frighten Thena, as she is one of the most potent warriors in all of Marvel. Angelina Jolie plays Thena in the film.
Everything Else You Need to Know About The Eternals
There are other Eternals and people associated with the Eternals that will appear in this film, but for the purposes of this article, we are going to stick to the ten Eternals that will be appearing as Eternals. As their name suggests, they are eternal. They cannot be killed. Well, they can but they’re immediately restored by the machine. As long as the machine still works, they cannot be permanently killed. While the new series written by Kieron Gillan features a broken machine, the defining feature of the Eternals is that they are forever.
Unlike the Avengers or other heroes, Eternals tend to focus on Eternals business and rarely interfere in human business. The other heroes know better than to ask the different Eternals what’s going on and if they can help. They know that they’re vastly out of their depth when it comes to battling Celestials. While the current Avengers Mountain is the Fallen Host, there isn’t an Avenger with the capability of battling a Celestial save for perhaps Franklin Richards at his most powerful. What the MCU does with the Eternals remains to be seen, but they are among the most powerful and near invulnerable heroes in the comics.
They’re stupidly powerful and capable of pulling off feats of enormous strength and ability to accomplish creating any number of abilities to pull them off. As the protectors of Earth, the Eternals have to focus on their primary duty of protecting Earth. Should they fail their duty, the Earth could be wiped out from existence. In fact, as mentioned before, they have failed in their duty and saw the Celestials sink the capital city of Lumerian, eventually creating Atlantis and the Atlantean race. While the Deviants will never cease to attempt to overthrow earth, especially Thanos, the Eternals are limited in numbers but vast in strength and abilities. It’s simply a matter of stopping the Deviants from possessing enough numbers to create an obstacle capable of stopping them dead in their tracks. The Eternals will always be there to protect Earth, now it’s time to see how capable they are within the confines of the MCU.
Eternals hits theaters on November 5, 2021.