©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Chloé Zhao’s Eternals opens up a whole new region of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Centred on a race of immortal super-beings who’ve hidden in plain sight among humans since the dawn of time, guiding our evolution, it’s the mother of all superhero origin stories and will impact Phase 4’s Multiverse Saga in ways we can’t even imagine yet.
Here’s all we know so far, from the Eternals cast and characters to its release date and trailers.
Eternals release date: 5 November 2021
The Eternals release date is locked in for 5 November 2021. In terms of the MCU Phase 4 release schedule, that places the Eternals movie after Black Widow, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but before Spider-Man: No Way Home (17 December 2021) and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (25 March 2022).
It’s been a long wait but, like so many of you, we’re incredibly excited to be on the cusp of a new MCU saga.
If you’ve not yet luxuriated in the two Eternals trailers, DO. IT. NOW! (We’ll wait).
What did you think? Mysterious and monumentally epic, right? Different for the MCU, too.
Got lots of questions? Well, that’s what we’re here for. So let’s start off with the biggest of all – who are the Eternals? To answer that we’re going to have to get to know the beings who created them first.
The immortal Eternals are one of two races of beings created on Earth using human DNA by the Celestials. And we’ve met one of the Celestials in the MCU already.
Remember Ego (Kurt Russell) from Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Peter Quill’s dad? He is/was a Celestial – one of the very first lifeforms that emerged after the creation of the universe. They’re gobsmackingly next-level powerful and exist to create life on planets around the cosmos, returning every few millennia or so to check in on their experiments and judge whether to let the civilisations flourish, or wipe out the cosmic petri dish and start again.
So, as well as the creators of the Eternals, the Celestials are key architects of Marvel’s Multiverse – something that Phase 4 is going to be all about. Incidentally, do you remember Knowhere, the spaceport built inside a gigantic skull from the original Guardians of the Galaxy?
Guess what the original owner of that skull was? Yup. A Celestial.
The Eternals trailers forge a direct and powerful link between the indescribably powerful Celestials and the Eternals they created. We see the super team arriving on Earth some 7,000 years ago to the surprise of our prehistoric ancestors. We glimpse their guiding hand in the evolution of the human race – gods walking among us, long before a certain Asgardian God of Thunder turned up in the desert.
©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
But, while the Eternals are a force for good, here to protect and guide humanity, the Celestial Nezarr the Calculator – he’s the blue-green superbeing swirling a galaxy in his hands in the main trailer – only created them to balance the earlier misguided creation of another race – the destructive and mutating Deviants.
The Deviants are, in essence, the anti-Eternals and have been hiding away on Earth for as long as their arch enemies, causing havoc and repeatedly getting smacked down by our heroes.
For 7,000 years, the immortal superheroes known as the Eternals have hidden in plain sight on Earth guiding humanity’s evolution and protecting us from the ruthless Deviants.
But, with the events of Endgame drawing the attention of the Eternals’ all-powerful masters, the Celestials, back to our world, the stage is set for a showdown between Deviants and Eternals that will decide which side of the Celestials’ judgement humanity falls on.
Salma Hayek (The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, Desperado) is Ajak
Ajak is the Eternals’ wise, spiritual leader and healer. She’s also the group’s main contact with their creators, the Celestials. We see her and the other Eternals in the main trailer gathered around a projection (not to scale) of the red, six-lamp-eyed Celestial Arishem the Judge. Like Sersi, Ajak has devoted her time to helping us humans evolve and develop civilisations.
Richard Madden (Bodyguard, 1917, Game of Thrones) is Ikaris
The all-powerful Eternal Ikaris is their leader. Super-strong, capable of flight and packing laser-beam eyes, he’s basically Marvel’s Superman. He’s also been romantically linked to Sersi for millennia.
Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians, Captain Marvel) is Sersi
Capable of manipulating matter, Sersi is the lead character in Eternals – a deeply empathetic champion of humanity. Sersi is Gemma Chan’s second bite of the MCU apple (she previously played Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel). In the present day, she works as a museum curator. Wonder if she ever bumps into the DCEU’s Diana Prince at conferences?
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent, Girl Interrupted) is Thena
Thena is a fierce warrior, capable of creating weapons out of pure energy (we see her making short work of a lizard-like Deviant with one in the main the Eternals trailer). Over the centuries she has developed a close bond with the Eternals’ man-mountain, Gilgamesh.
Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, Stuber) is Kingo
Not content with being a cosmic energy-flinging Eternal, the fame-loving Kingo has taken hiding in plain sight to the extreme, becoming a globally famous Bollywood star.
Lauren Ridloff (Sound of Metal, The Walking Dead) is Makkari
Super-fast Makkari is also the MCU’s first deaf superhero, and is played by Lauren Ridloff who was one of the highlights of this year’s Sound of Metal, playing Diane the teacher.
© Alberto E. Rodriguez / Stringer. Getty Images North America
Lia McHugh (The Lodge, American Woman) is Sprite
Sprite is as old, wise and powerful as the other Eternals but exists in the form of a 12-year-old child. She can project incredibly lifelike illusions. Her world-weary sarcasm is often at odds with her youthful appearance.
Bryan Tyree Henry (Godzilla vs. Kong, If Beale Street Could Talk) is Phastos
Phastos is a super-intelligent Eternal who has secretly helped humanity make technological leaps over the centuries. He’s also the MCU’s first openly gay superhero.
Don Lee (Train to Busan, The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil) is Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh is the Eternals’ tank. Not only is he super strong, but he can also project an impenetrable exoskeleton on his body, making him very tricky to hurt.
© Jesse Grant / Stringer. Getty Images North America
Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones, How to Train Your Dragon 2) is Dane Whitman/Black Knight
Richard Madden’s fellow Game of Thrones mate plays super-skilled (and human) swordsman, Dane Whitman. In the comics, Dane is the third person to take on the mantle of the Black Knight, wielding the cursed Ebony Blade. He was also once the leader of the Avengers and was bonded to Sersi briefly, giving him Eternals powers. Could this hint at a love triangle between Sersi, Dane and Ikaris?
Barry Keoghan (Chernobyl, Dunkirk) is Druig
Druig is the Eternals’ outlier. Possessing mind-control abilities, he disagreed with how best to guide humans and distanced himself from the other Eternals. In the trailers we see what looks like a compound filled with mind-controlled humans led by Druig. We suspect he may prove to be the hardest of all the Eternals to recruit back into the fold.
The Eternals trailers raise almost more questions than they answer, and we love that we don’t know how the MCU’s new super team will help shape the Phase 4 saga yet. Still, these are the burning questions we need answering:
• What will the dominant threat in Eternals be? Kro at the head of a resurgent army of Deviants, or the capricious God-like judgement of the Celestials? Or something even worse that we haven’t even glimpsed yet?
• How much of The Eternals will play out in the past, and how much in the present? We see more of the past in this first trailer but is this just scene-setting for the benefit of MCU fans who don’t know the Eternals yet?
• How will Chloé Zhao’s direction shake up the MCU? As Nomadland (2021) and her earlier film The Rider (2017) demonstrate, Zhao is a master of low-key, naturally lit tales of relationships set against the immeasurable beauty of the great outdoors. We trust MCU architect Kevin Feige and Zhao implicitly. We just don’t know how Zhao’s unique vision will filter through a Marvel Studios blockbuster.
• How will Eternals interact with the existing MCU superheroes? Is Doctor Strange aware of their presence for example? Have they ever intervened quietly in the Avengers’ affairs to help them along?
No matter how these questions are answered on 5 November, there's some things of which we can be certain.
Eternals will bring about an epic evolution in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and you absolutely mustn't miss this new dawn on the big screen.
Eternals is in cinemas 5 November
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