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Eternals release date, cast and characters

After months of speculation, Marvel Studios took the Hall H stage at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 to finally unveil their plans for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far from Home marked the end of Phase 3 and the culmination of an era, and now, new superheroes from classic comics will be coming to life on the big screen. But not all of these films will feature well-known characters that fans are already familiar with. Sure, we'll be seeing more of Thor, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange, but we'll also be introduced to the Eternals, an ancient race gifted with a wide range of superpowers. 

The Eternals were never exceptionally popular in the comics — in fact, they were relatively obscure. But with Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel proved that they could take storylines that never got much attention in the comics and turn them into a successful franchise. And now that the star-studded cast of Eternals has been revealed, the hype is building. 

As we get closer to the release of Eternals, we'll learn more about these new cosmic heroes and their backstory. Although the cast and the MCU braintrust have been secretive so far, some key details about the movie are already out there. Here's everything you need to know about Eternals and how the film fits into Marvel's Phase 4. 

What's the release date for Eternals?

Eternals was officially announced on July 20, 2019 at Comic-Con in San Diego, and fans won't have to wait in suspense just to find out the release date: the film is scheduled to premiere on November 6, 2020. 

Although the film was just confirmed, Marvel fans have been hearing news about a film based on the Eternals comics being in the works since the spring of 2018. By 2019, word began getting out about which actors were in talks to star in the film. And before the film was even announced at Comic-Con, production was already in the early stages in London. November 2020 may feel like a long wait, but luckily, Marvel fans can also look forward to the release of Black Widow on May 1, 2020 and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on Disney+ in the fall.

Who are the Eternals?

Even long-time Marvel fans might not be too knowledgeable about who the Eternals are and their role in the Marvel Universe. After all, they appeared in a relatively limited run of comic books in the mid 1970s and '80s. The storyline was revived for a miniseries by Neil Gaiman in 2006, which brought these characters into the modern Marvel universe. 

So, who are the Eternals, and what is their significance? According to Marvel lore, an alien species called the Celestials visited Earth millions of years ago and began carrying out experiments on archaic humans. Naturally, the results of these experiments weren't always a net positive for our planet. The Celestials were the original creators of the Eternals, beings that looked like humans yet possessed abilities like flight, mind reading, and unbelievable strength and endurance. Their superpowers and resilience made them essentially immortal and indestructible. 

But the Celestials' experiments were also responsible for the creation of the Deviants, another group of humanoids who were burdened with genetic mutations and typically grotesque in appearance. Humans mistook Eternals for gods, and the Eternals often clashed with the Deviants to protect humanity. However, the Eternals weren't unfailingly perfect — as we'll likely see in the film, they can be mislead and instigate conflicts among themselves. 

Have the Eternals appeared in other Marvel films?

At this point, we've met countless characters from the original Marvel comics in the MCU. Have we been introduced to any of the Eternals yet? Sort of. Thanos, who destroyed half of all life in the universe and was finally defeated by the Avengers in Endgame, was actually an Eternal. If that seems a little confusing, that's understandable — the Eternals were supposed to be protecting humanity, not wiping it out, and they should be able to physically blend in among humans. 

However, Thanos was a bit of a wildcard, because he also possessed a recessive Deviant gene. This explains his appearance. His status as an outlier means we can reasonably expect that most of the characters in Eternals will be entirely new to us. In fact, given that the MCU has never shied away from streamlining their characters' dense histories for the screen, it's entirely possible that Thanos may not even come up.

Eternals' connection to Guardians of the Galaxy

Eternals actually shares a connection with another film in the MCU. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Peter Quill's father, Ego, tells Peter that he is a Celestial. He's portrayed as extremely powerful and possesses god-like abilities. Ego is millions of years old, and he is able to manipulate the matter around him. By the time we meet him in Guardians Vol. 2, he has managed to form a whole planet around himself, but he can also inhabit a human body. 

Yet all of this wasn't enough for Ego. He eventually became bored with mere immortality and decided that he wanted to turn all of the worlds in the cosmos into extensions of himself. But he wasn't capable of doing this alone, so he needed another Celestial to help him turn his idea into reality. That's exactly why he became a father in the first place — he hoped his son Peter would become his accomplice, and to ensure that his son wouldn't be led astray, Ego killed Peter's mother. 

When Peter found out that Ego was responsible for his mother's death, he turned against Ego, and the Guardians teamed up to destroy him. Clearly, the Celestials can have nefarious intentions, and they're not an all-powerful force for good in the universe. We'll probably meet other Celestials in Eternals, and judging by what we've seen so far, they could be driving the primary conflict. 

What can we expect from the plot of Eternals?

Unfortunately for spoiler-hungry Marvel fans, everyone involved with Eternals is keeping the details under wraps. As of right now, the only real clues we have about the plot are a few vague comments from studio president Kevin Feige after Comic-Con. 

"It will be a story that will introduce you to this incredibly eclectic group of immortals, they're the focus of the story," Feige told ComicBook.com. "It takes place in our universe — it takes place in the MCU, so you'll hear mentions and stuff about it but yes, the Celestials go back a long way. We know a little bit about them. The Collector told us about Celestials, Knowhere is the severed head of a Celestial. Ego was involved with them, but we learn much more about their agenda and what they've been up to." 

If you want to form your own predictions about what might happen in the film this early on, you'll have to research the original comics. Perhaps the plot will be inspired by the more recent Neil Gaiman miniseries, in which the Eternals have assumed normal human identities and forgotten their origins. Sources have told The Hollywood Reporter that the film will include a love story between Ikaris (Richard Madden) and another Eternal, Sersi, but at this point, this is all merely speculation. As of right now, what could happen is anyone's guess. 

Richard Madden is signed on to play Ikaris in Eternals

The cast of Eternals is rounded out with A-listers and rising stars alike, and while big names alone never guarantee a movie's success, it seems like the casting director has given fans a lot to look forward to with this film. Richard Madden, who rose to fame for playing the ill-fated Robb Stark in Game of Thrones, has signed on to play Ikaris. 

Ikaris was known as the "Prime Eternal" in the comics, meaning that he was more powerful than the other Eternals. He is fueled by cosmic energy, and he can move at superspeed and communicate telepathically. His sheer physical strength and agility makes him a formidable opponent in combat. It looks like there's little that Ikaris can't do, and there's a good chance that Eternals will be centered around Ikaris as one of the main protagonists. 

If it seems like Madden's name has been everywhere lately, you're not imagining things. He starred in the critically-acclaimed British TV series Bodyguard, and he also played John Reed in Rocketman, the musical biopic of Elton John's life. It seems like being killed off of Game of Thrones was one of the best things that could have happened for his career — right now, things are only looking up for Madden. 

Angelina Jolie will star as Thena in Eternals

When word got out that Angelina Jolie was in talks to appear in Eternals, the prevailing rumor was that she would be signing on to play the Eternal Sersi. But at Comic-Con, it was confirmed that Jolie was actually playing a different Eternal, Thena. In the Marvel Universe, the city of Athens, Greece was reportedly built for Thena, not the goddess Athena. Human beings confusing Thena and Athena bred hostility between the Eternals and the Olympic gods of Greek mythology, eventually leading to an all out war. In Gaiman's Eternals comics, Thena works as a researcher at Stark Enterprises and starts remembering her past as an Eternal through recurring nightmares. 

Jolie is definitely the biggest name attached to this film right now, and she's ecstatic to be part of the MCU. "I'm going to work ten times harder," Jolie said. "I know what we all need to do, we have all read the script, we all know what the task ahead is, and we know what you deserve, so we are all going to be working very, very hard."

Lauren Ridloff was cast as Marvel's first deaf superhero in Eternals

Madden and Jolie joining the MCU is definitely big news, but the Eternals casting decision getting the most positive buzz right now is Lauren Ridloff's role as Makkari. You may know Ridloff from her previous work on The Walking Dead, or her former title as Miss Deaf America, which she held from 2000 through 2002. 

Ridloff was born Deaf, and as one of the few Deaf actors in Hollywood, she has always wanted to see more representation for her community on screen. Now, she has made film history as the first deaf superhero in the MCU. Her casting represents a major change from the original comics — Makkarri was actually a male character, and he wasn't written as deaf. But the reception to this change has been overwhelmingly positive so far, and fans are generally looking forward to seeing Ridloff's portrayal of Makkari, an Eternal with the power of super speed. 

At Comic-Con, Ridloff was asked about her feelings on playing Makkari and becoming Marvel's first Deaf superhero. "I do have a son. And he asked me after he read Greek mythology, he was reading through that, and he's like, 'What does honor mean?'" Ridloff answered in American Sign Language. "This. This is what honor means. I'm so honored to be here."

Who else will appear in Eternals?

Overall, the cast of Eternals is stacked. Aside from Madden, Jolie, and Ridloff, there are a few other names you'll probably recognize. Kumail Nanjiani will be playing Kingo, an Eternal who rarely uses utilizes his actual superpowers. Instead, he spent years studying with the Samurai in Japan and now wields a sword with the ability to cut through any material. Brian Tyree Henry will be appearing as Phastos, who basically develops all of the high-tech gear and equipment that the Eternals need. 

Salma Hayek has signed on to play Ajak, who often has to serve as a diplomat between the Eternals and the Celestials. This is because Ajak was originally the only Eternal with the ability to directly communicate with the Celestials. Don Lee is taking on the role of Gilgamesh, an Eternal who has fought alongside the Avengers on numerous occasions, but has been essentially overlooked until now. And finally, Lia McHugh, the youngest member of the main cast, is playing Sprite — as the name suggests, she's a mischievous trickster whose pranks have always gotten her into trouble. New cast members will undoubtedly be announced as production continues, but so far, this is shaping up to be a standout cast. 

Will Gemma Chan be playing Sersi?

Although the Eternals character Sersi is rumored to be the main protagonist of the film, no one knows who will be playing her just yet. Naturally, Marvel fans are eager to find out which actress will be taking on this starring role. 

It's been confirmed that Gemma Chan is now in talks for a major role in Eternals. Chan is best known for playing Astrid in Crazy Rich Asians, and she later went on to join the MCU in Captain Marvel. So far, there's no word on which specific role she's up for, but there's some speculation that she could be in the running to play Sersi. However, there's also a chance that she could be reprising her role as Minn-Erva from Captain Marvel. Although Minn-Erva was killed in battle in Captain Marvel, the exact timeline for Eternals hasn't been established yet, so perhaps Minn-Erva will be making an appearance. As far as Chan's involvement with Eternals goes, fans will have to wait for further news on her casting. 

Barry Keoghan is joining the Eternals cast

Chan isn't the only rising star who could be joining the Eternals cast. Barry Keoghan is also up for a role in the film. As of right now, there is no word on which character he might be playing. If Keoghan's name sounds vaguely familiar, it's because everything this up-and-coming actor has appeared in lately seems to get rave reviews — and if he does join the MCU, things will only be getting better for him from here on out.

Keoghan caught the attention of critics with his performance as George Mills in the Academy Award-winning film Dunkirk. He went on to star in the psychological thriller The Killing of a Sacred Deer, alongside big names like Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Alicia Silverstone. Most recently, he played Pavel in two episodes of the critically acclaimed HBO series Chernobyl. With a wide variety of projects under his belt already, and his positive reputation among critics, Keoghan will undoubtedly be a very welcome addition to the cast. 

Who's writing and directing Eternals?

Director Chloe Zhao will be at the helm of Eternals. Zhao is a newcomer to the world of Marvel. In fact, she's relatively new to Hollywood in general — she directed her first feature film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, in 2015. She's best known for her 2017 contemporary Western film The Rider, which follows a young cowboy after an accident nearly kills him and brings an end to his riding career. The Rider was nominated for both Best Feature and Best Director at the 33rd Independent Spirit Awards. 

Zhao's history as an indie filmmaker makes her an interesting choice for the director of Eternals. This film definitely represents a new artistic direction for Zhao, but with her accolades, there's no doubt that the movie is in good hands. 

Cousins Matthew and Ryan Firpo teamed up to write the script. The two have one film, Ruin, in pre-production already, but a release date is yet to be announced, and Eternals will most likely be their feature writing debut. In short, Eternals will have plenty of fresh talent behind the camera. 

Will Keanu Reeves be in Eternals?

It seems like it's only a matter of time before Keanu Reeves finally appears in an MCU film, but so far, the stars haven't aligned. However, there's still a chance that Reeves could have a part in Eternals. Don't get your hopes up just yet — it's still early, and nothing has been confirmed as of right now. 

In June, MCU Cosmic reported that the same source who initially tipped them off that Eternals would be part of phase 4 has now told them that Reeves was approached about a role in the film. Apparently, negotiations were still in process as of June, and Reeves had not signed on to anything at the time. Furthermore, the source couldn't confirm which role Reeves was being considered for. 

But at the end of the day, a rumor is still just a rumor, no matter how badly fans want it to be true. After all, Millie Bobby Brown was also supposedly appearing in Eternals, but she personally stated that she had not signed on to the film. We'll have to wait for a statement from Marvel Studios or Reeves himself before getting too excited. 

Diversity in Eternals cast

One reason Eternals in particular is getting so much attention is undeniably the diversity of the cast. The fact that Makkari, a white man in the comics, is now being played by a Deaf woman of color is a huge win for diverse representation. Furthermore, the Eternal Sprite was also written as male in the comics, as was Ajak, and now both of these roles will be played by women. Eternals casting demonstrates that Marvel is clearly committed to putting strong female characters front and center.

Furthermore, Kevin Feige has explicitly confirmed that there will be a character from the LGBTQ community in Eternals — but he hasn't revealed who it is yet. Marvel has promised to include more LGBTQ representation in upcoming films, and it looks like they're prepared to make good on that promise with Phase 4. "Our audience is global, is diverse, is inclusive. If we don't do it that way for them, we will fail," Victoria Alonso, the executive Vice President of physical production for Marvel Studios, told Variety. "If we don't put pedal to the metal on the diversity and the inclusivity, we will not have continued success. Our determination is to have that for all of the people out there watching our movies."