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Eternals Set Photos Reveal First Look At Angelina Jolie As Thena

Of the three Marvel Cinematic Universe offerings coming up for 2020, Eternals is the most mysterious. Casual non-comic consumers of the MCU won't immediately recognize the property or have even a vague notion of the plot lines attached to it — and even amongst comic enthusiasts, Eternals is historically niche. Like Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy before them, that will soon change, and (barring box office disaster) catapult Thena and her kin to pop culture saturation. It's rather incredible to look back over the past decade and realize how many characters we find beloved were not too long ago pretty dusty artifacts of comics rarely appreciated by any large contingent even within comics fandom. It's difficult to imagine what a major box office failure for the MCU might look like nowadays when it has so competently taken properties that, 10-plus years ago, would have gotten you laughed out of a studio's conference room to even suggest making a movie out of.

All we officially know about the plot of Eternals for the moment is that the titular team will confront the Deviants in whatever malfeasance they're going to get up to across the universe — and more specifically, those resultant effects on Earth's history — over several millennia. Now, however, principal photography on Eternals has begun in Spain, and with filming comes paparazzi, especially since such a high-profile tabloid personality like Angelina Jolie is involved. Questionable ethics of stalking celebrities in even their most mundane moments aside, this means set photos. A few have surfaced online specifically of Jolie, Brian Tyree Henry, and Gemma Chan in costume, so let's dig right in, shall we?

Big stars, bigger scale

The set photos catch Jolie, Henry, and Chan on a spacious beach somewhere in Spain. While the pictures were taken at a very long range and are thus very grainy, each actor can be identified by their conveniently-colored costumes — Thena in white, Phastos in purple, and Sersi in green, as revealed at D23 months previous. The costumes, even in such poor-quality photos, are noticeably elaborate — apparently minutely different from the concept art presented at D23 (as one would expect, because realizing costumes from concept art always means some changes for the sake of function), and detailed with multiple layers. Some fans have noted in particular that Thena appears to be wearing a circlet now, which her D23 costume reveal didn't have, which seemingly confirms her comic-canonical status as royalty being probable in the film. Marvel loyals have since jokingly declared her to be an official Disney princess.

The beach itself has stylization with large, jagged obsidian rocks erupting from the sand, and some man-made triangular pod-like structure with inset jewels and arc designs accompanying the heroes. Some of the pictures appear to have captured some actual filming takes, as the three of them are seen gesturing up to the sky, as if either holding back an invisible force or performing some energy-based attack of their own that will be added in post-production. Deliberately-drawn lines in the wet sand apparently serve as marks for the actors. Even without any context whatsoever, the sense of scale is already massive.

While these are the first actor photos to emerge, several other pictures of the huge sets being built in various places have been floating around for a little while longer online. The most impressive of these is a set that has been built of The Ishtar Gate, which was the actual, historical entrance to the city of Babylon in Mesopotamia. The edifice of the gate was excavated and rebuilt, and is on display in a museum in Germany, necessitating a set reconstruction. Gilgamesh is a listed character in Eternals to be played by Dong-seok Ma, so perhaps he may become the actual King of Mesopotamia as an Eternal, or simply remain a mythical character of ancient history that humans turn into stories. In comics continuity, Thena is sometimes mistaken as the goddess Athena, which she factually isn't. Gilgamesh actually existed as a human in real life and became deified by epic poems, so it's difficult to say right now how this will be interpreted in the film. 

Beyond that set piece, pictures of an entire village preparing for war have been proliferated online as well, complete with bamboo-construction catapults. Finally, there are pictures of an ancient South American-style stone pyramid being referred to on social media as "The Tomb of the Gods," which exists in the comics as an ancient Incan collection of sacred temples for Celestials, which they called their "Space Gods." 

All in all, it seems to add up to quite the historic-sci-fi adventure in which Celestials and Eternals alike have relationships to several groups of ancient peoples who interacted with them and eventually grew to worship. It's big, bold, and temporally broad — probably the most ambitious MCU film to date. Certainly the most expensive, according to Kevin Feige. Let's all hope that pays the dividends Marvel Studios clearly expects it to.

Eternals will open in theaters on November 6, 2020.