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Eternals - What We Know So Far

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, with a slated premiere date of November 6, 2020. Unfortunately, when the coronavirus pandemic inevitably led to a total reshuffling of the MCU slate, things changed. With theaters around the world shuttered, "Black Widow" had to be moved from its May slot, settling into that November date. "Eternals" was, in turn, bumped to February 12, 2021.

As the pandemic wore on, Phase 4 of the MCU suffered another setback, as "Black Widow" was moved to May 2021, making 2020 the first year without a Marvel movie since 2009. "Eternals" was given a new release date of November 5, 2021. Fortunately, this schedule actually stuck. Marvel fans have been hearing news about a film based on the Eternals comics being in the works since the spring of 2018 — three and a half years later, they'll finally get to see it.

Who are the Eternals?

Even longtime 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 wild card, 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?

Marvel did a decent job of keeping the details of the "Eternals" plot under wraps, but with the release of a pair of trailers, we now know significantly more than we did before. The Eternals, it seems, have each been living their own lives on Earth, apart from one another, for a long time. When the Hulk donned the Infinity Gauntlet in "Avengers: Endgame" and reversed Thanos' Snap, the energy produced by the return of half the universe's population triggered something called the Emergence, which the Eternals have seven days to (presumably) stop. As a result, the early part of the story appears to revolve around getting the band back together, as characters like Ikaris and Ajax travel across the planet, searching for their scattered brethren. The conflicts between the reunited Eternals will also play a major role, and there's reportedly a love triangle between Ikaris, Sersi, and the human Dane Whitman (who is Sersi's primary love interest in the comics as well).

It's unclear how much the mysterious Emergence has to do with the return of the Deviants, led by a warlord named Kro, but they are definitely the film's villains — unless, of course, it turns out that the true villains are the Celestials themselves. The prominent appearance of Arishem the Judge in the trailer suggests that, in accordance with comic book lore, the Emergence could involve the Celestials returning to make their final judgment on Earth and humanity.

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 "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. 

A Game of Thrones reunion

Richard Madden and Kit Harington reuniting in the MCU? It sounds too good to be true, but "Game of Thrones" fans will be happy to see these two familiar faces together again in "Eternals." Harington, who is best known for playing Jon Snow on "Game of Thrones," has officially joined the "Eternals" cast as Dane Whitman. Whitman isn't an Eternal himself, but he is a superhero who goes by the name the Black Knight. Naturally, this role seems like a perfect fit for Harington already — it almost sounds like it could be the name of a "Game of Thrones" character.

It's likely that Harington will appear in future Marvel films, too. He's such a huge draw that Marvel will probably incorporate the Black Knight into other storylines. If the Eternals show up in other Marvel films, perhaps Harington and Madden will be working side by side again for years to come. It's the "Game of Thrones"/MCU crossover that fans didn't even know they needed. 

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 onscreen. Now, she's 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."

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."

Gemma Chan joins the cast as Sersi

When Marvel initially revealed the main "Eternals" cast members at Comic-Con, they left audiences in suspense about who would be playing Sersi. At Disney's D23 Expo, Gemma Chan could finally announce that she had landed the coveted role. As an Eternal, Sersi possesses powers like transmutation, mind control, and flight. However, she also loves living among humans. She eventually becomes a famous party planner in New York City, entertaining her guests with magic that they believe is mere illusion. 

Chan is best known for playing Astrid in "Crazy Rich Asians," and she later went on to join the MCU as Minn-Erva in "Captain Marvel." She's ecstatic to be joining the "Eternals" cast and having the opportunity to play a new character in the MCU. "I couldn't be happier to be coming back to the MCU to play this iconic character and to work with this incredible group of people," Chan tweeted.

Barry Keoghan's superhero dream comes true

Chan isn't the only rising star joining the "Eternals" cast. At D23, it was revealed that Barry Keoghan will officially be playing Druig. Druig does have superpowers, but he doesn't use them for good — he's the villain of the film, wreaking havoc in the cosmos and on Earth. 

Keoghan has wanted to join the MCU for a while — in fact, he even tweeted to Stan Lee about it in 2013. Now, he's finally achieved his goal.  

Keoghan caught the attention of critics with his performance as George Mills in the Academy Award-winning film "Dunkirk" and went on to star in the psychological thriller "The Killing of a Sacred Deer." Most recently, he played Pavel in two episodes of the critically acclaimed HBO series "Chernobyl." Druig definitely represents a different type of role for Keoghan, but clearly, he's been waiting years for a shot at landing a part in the MCU. Now, it's his time to shine. 

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 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. 

Rumors and rumblings about Eternals' supporting cast

The cast of "Eternals" is by no means limited to the Eternals themselves — a wide array of supporting cast members have been assembled to give the film some much-needed human representation. Most notably, Lebanese actor Haaz Sleiman will be appearing as the husband of the Eternal known as Phastos, making him one half of the first openly gay relationship in the MCU. The characters also have a child together. Sleiman, who is gay himself, has spoken about the importance of the role, even though part of him wishes he could be the superhero.

Other supporting actors include Harish Patel, who plays one of the Eternals' Bollywood film manager, Ozer Ercan, who plays a smuggler, Jashaun St. John, who starred in director Chloé Zhao's first film, "Songs My Brother Taught Me," and Gil Birmingham, best known for his appearances in the "Twilight" films.

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 followed that up in 2017 with the 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. These days, of course, Zhao is best known as the director of "Nomadland," another modern Western about a woman wandering the United States. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, making Zhao just the second woman in history to secure an Oscar for direction.

Zhao's history as an indie filmmaker turned Oscar winner makes her an interesting choice for the director of Eternals. This film definitely represents a new artistic direction for Zhao, but with her prestigious 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.

Diversity in the cast of Eternals

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. The casting of "Eternals" demonstrates that Marvel is clearly committed to putting strong female characters front and center.

In addition, Haaz Sleiman will be playing Phastos' husband, making them the first married gay couple in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sleiman has revealed that the two will share an onscreen kiss. 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."

Zain Al Rafeea is rumored to be playing a major Marvel character in Eternals

Although no official outlets have confirmed this rumor yet, several social media posts from "Eternals" cast members and affiliated sources have revealed that Zain Al Rafeea likely has a supporting role in the film. For example, Salma Hayek posted a photo with Lia McHugh and Al Rafeea, with the caption, "Hanging with the Eternals' youth." Al Rafeea himself hinted that he might be playing Namor, a mutant and Atlantean prince. Time will tell whether or not these rumors have any truth to them, but based on the information available, it seems pretty safe to say that Al Rafeea will at least have a small role in Eternals.

Al Rafeea may not be a household name in America, but he has already gained some recognition from critics. The young Syrian refugee was spotted by a director when he was 12, and despite his complete lack of acting experience, he was cast as the lead in the film "Capernaum." The movie ended up being nominated for the Academy Award in the Foreign Language Film category in 2019.

Do we already know about Eternals' post-credit scene?

Every Marvel fan knows that just because the credits are rolling at the end of an MCU film, it doesn't mean that the story is over — there is always at least one post-credits scene that reveals important clues about what's coming next. And there's already several rumors out there about the post-credits scene that will follow Eternals. One such rumor from 2019 claimed that "Eternals" will introduce the X-Men into the MCU, illustrating how the titular beings were actually the ones who created the X-Gene.

Since then, however, there have been contradictory reports that suggest the "Eternals" post-credits scenes will actually have to do with other Marvel characters. In early 2021, a Reddit user who claimed to have seen the film wrote a detailed post including a complete breakdown of the story (though a few of the user's plot points appear to contradict scenes in the trailers). At the end of the post, the user says there are two post-credits scenes, one in which Dane Whitman finds a sword, presumably beginning his transformation into the Black Knight, and one that introduces cosmic Marvel Comics characters Pip the Troll and Starfox, the brother of Thanos.

Of course, everything written here needs to be taken with a massive grain of salt, as there's no way of knowing for sure what awaits Marvel fans at the end of "Eternals." The only certainty is that we're going to have a great time finding out.