Move over Captain Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy! The Eternals is about to stake its claim as the MCU’s most prominent sci-fi franchise. At least, that’s what Kingo actor Kumail Nanjiani believes.
If the overall direction of the MCU moving forward leans to the latter, expect The Eternals to have far-reaching consequences in Phase 5 films like Captain Marvel 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kingo Sunen actor Kumali Nanjiani teased that the film is unlike any MCU entry that’s come before and it will be the most sci-fi Marvel film to date.
“It’s really, really an epic. And it’s really such a science-fiction story. It’s a superhero story, but in some ways, it’s the most sci-fi of all the Marvel movies and it’s the most epic of all the Marvel movies. And the story spans thousands of years. So it’s really not like any of the other Marvel movies.“
If that’s not enough to pique your interest, Nanjiani also offered up the following tease.
“It really spans thousands and thousands of years. And the story is just so big and so epic. And I don’t mean epic in the internet way, I mean epic in the old-school way…It doesn’t look like any of the other Marvel movies.”
The Eternals hits theaters on November 6.
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FORERUNNERS TO THE INHUMANS
The Eternals are set to play a major factor in the MCU moving forward, but the average comic book fan likely doesn’t know a great deal about these obscure powerhouses. In the comics, any potential role for The Eternals to rise to greatness is often occupied by the Inhumans, another ancient race of genetically manipulated humans. Inspired by the Celesitals manipulation of human genetics, the Kree moved forward with their own experimentation on primitive man, resulting in the Inhumans. With the two superhero groups soo similar and .gGiven the public power struggle over the last few years between Kevin Feige and Ike Perlmutter, one has to wonder if the tragically inept 2017 Inhumans ABC TV series resulted in Feige and co. choosing to cancel the Inhumans movie and push The Eternals instead.
THE KIRBY KRACKLE EFFFECT
The Eternals have been roaming around the fringes of the Marvel comic book universe for a long time having been created by Jack Kirby in 1976.They owe their creation to the fact that DC Comics prematurely canceled Kirby’s New Gods series, prompting Kirby to return to Marvel and finish out the ideas of the saga in a new series he called The Eternals. Ironically, that series was also eventually canceled and its dangling plot threads were left for Roy Thomas and Mark Gruenwald to wrap up in 1978 in their ongoing Thor series.
BUT WHO ARE THE ETERNALS, REALLY?
The comic book origin story for The Eternals centers on The Celestials visiting Earth millions of years ago and experimenting on early-humanity, resulting in the creation of two distinct races- the Eternals and the Deviants. Marvel Comics lore eventually reveals that this is a process that the Celestials repeat on numerous other planets, including the Kree and Skrull home planets.
During the Stone Age, the Celestials created 100 Eternals and 100 Deviants in a grand experiment to see which race will ultimately have a greater influence on the planet. If the Deviants prove more impactful, the Celestials destroy all life on the planet and begin the experiment anew. That “somewhat” sounds benign but the outcome where the Deviants win might actually be more merciful. Because if the Eternals prove to have influenced the development of the planet more, the Celestials somehow convert this “influence” into an energy source for The Fulcrum, the higher being they serve. The Watchers and .The Horde also serve The Fulcrum, who is the second most powerful being in the Universe after the One-Above-All.
A SLIGHT THANOS CONNECTION
Though it’s never directly touched upon in Infinity War or Endgame, Thanos is a Deviant, one of the races created by The Celestials. As previously mentioned, The Celestials travel to one planet after another, taking the native race and creating 100 Eternals and 100 Deviants. They previously visited Thanos’ homeworld Titania and performed their usual genetic manipulation but never returned. Over time, Eternals and Deviants intermingled, with unlucky newborns sometimes possessing dominant Deviant genes- as was the case with Thanos.
HERE’S WHAT YOU SHOULD READ
If you want to brush up on your Eternals knowledge, these are the comics you need to read:
- The Eternals Miniseries from Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. – if Marvel wants to introduce The Eternals into modern continuity, there’s no better way to explain why they’ve been absent so far than memory wipe. That’s the crux of the miniseries, which reveals that the Eternals have had their memories wiped for millennia by a nefarious entity, only for Ikaris to slowly regain his memories and set out on a quest to find and restore the memories of his fellow Eternals. Perhaps the three "snaps" by Thanos, Hulk and Iron Man have resulted in the unintended consequence of the Eternals regaining their memory?
- New Eternals: Apocalypse Now Vol 1 1 from Karl Bollers, Mike Higgins and Joe Bennet – it’s a single issue but significant as a small group of Eternals decided to reveal their existence to humanity. In order to keep the existence of other Eternals a secret, they decided to reveal themselves as s superhero team and call themselves the New Breed. Don’t be surprised if the MCU decides to go this route as the next saga could be the "Heroic Age" and focus on the rise of superhero teams in the wake of The Avengers victory over Thanos.
- Eternals Vol 4: (2008-2009) – this 9 issue run establishes the presence of the Sleeping Celestial, a member of the cosmic giants who questioned the races’ servitude to the Fulcrum and was thus punished to sleep forever beneath the Earth’s surface. However, comics being comics, he doesn’t stay dormant for long and sends warning of an impending attack by the Horde, the opposite number of the Celestials.
WHO’S MAKING THE FILM?
Matthew and Ryan Firpo are writing the project while Chloé Zhao has been hired to direct.
The Firpo brothers made waves in 2017 when their Black List script Ruin was optioned by Mad River Pictures with Gal Gadot attached to star (she’s since dropped out and been replaced by Margot Robbie). While that project looks to get off the ground, the Firpo bros. have written another script, a futuristic thriller titled Mimi from Rio, which was optioned by Netflix and has Ridley Scott attached as a producer. The film follows two brothers tasked with transporting the world’s first sentient android to a secure location.
Zhao is a 37-year-old, Chinese-born director who burst on the scene with her 2015 debut feature, Songs My Brothers Taught Me. The film went on to premiere at Sundance to rave reviews. She followed up that pic with the 2017 indie, The Rider, which earned her a Best Director nomination at the 33rd Independent Spirit Awards. Zhao gained notoriety for casting non-actors whose normal life closely mirrored the fictional characters they portrayed on film. Zhao is also attached to direct an adaptation of the book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, which will star Frances McDormand, but it looks as if Marvel’s Eternals will come first.
SURE, IT’S AN ENSEMBLE BUT WHO WILL BE THE “STAR-LORD”?
Angelina Jolie has been confirmed to lead the film and is portraying Thena- a character with close ties to the Greek gods and Hercules. With the film said to span 7,000 years don’t be surprised if we catch a glimpse of Olympus. Salma Hayek portrays Ajak, known as the sleeping Eternal. This gender-swapped character becomes infused with the Eternal homeworld (this transformation grants Ajak the ability to directly communicate with the Celestials), City of the Space Gods in order to prepare for a future visit from The Celestials.
Another key set of characters are Sersi and the Black Knight, portrayed by Gemma Chan and Kit Harrington, respectively. In the comics, the two are lovers who ultimately have their minds linked when Sersi begins to suffer bouts of insanity.
Richard Madden will portray Ikaris, the most recognizable member of The Eternals to comic book fans. The character has a secret identity as a professional wrestler in modern times.
Other key characters include Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos, who serves as The Eternals’ weapon master and armorer.
D23 2019 PRESENTATION FOR THE ETERNALS
The full cast for The Eternals was unveiled at D23, along with concept art for their costumes. Following the presentation, brief back stage interviews were conducted by the press.
SDCC: FIRST POSTER FOR THE ETERNALS
The first poster and confirmation of The Celstials appearance in the film was unveiled at SDCC in July 2019.
D23 CONCEPT ART FOR A CELESTIAL
A fresh look at a Celestial that some fans theorize is the deceased head that comprises Knowhere in Guardians of the Galaxy was released at D23.
HERCULES RUMORS STILL PERSIST
There are persistent, but unconfirmed rumors that Hercules will appear and that he will be depicted as LGBTQ. The rumor originated this past Spring but continues to persist despite SDCC and D23 passing with no mention of the character’s appearance.
THE MCU’S FIRST OPENLY GAY SUPERHERO
While The Eternals may or may not feature Hercules, the film has been confirmed to feature the studio’s first openly gay superhero. Marvel Studios President Kevin Fige has revealed that the gay character is a man who is married with kids. It’s rumored but unconfirmed that the character in question is Richard Madden’s Ikaris.
THE FIRST APPEARNACE OF A CELESTIAL IN THE MCU
Eson the Searcher appeard in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and was the first appearance of a Celesital in the MCU.
EGO, THE LIVING PLANET WAS RETCONNED TO BE A CELESTIAL
In the comics, Ego, The Living Planet is the result of a science experiment that creates a “bio-verse” or a living planet as his name aptly describes. However, the MCU has changed this origin to make Ego a Celestial, though he doesn’t have the characteristically humanoid appearance of one.