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How Kumail Nanjiani's Eternals Character Is Different From The Comics

As Eternals continues production, Marvel Studios isn't permitting a whole lot of advance peeks at the ambitious project — but the little tidbits we've gotten here and there have been intriguing. Back in December 2019, lucky patrons of CCXP in Brazil got to see a montage of unfinished footage from the set, and one detail in particular has gained some steam: the apparent inclusion of a large Bollywood dance number centered on Kumail Nanjiani's character, Kingo. 

In March 2020, Nanjiani confirmed to the podcast New Hollywood that this was indeed a significant facet of his character, and went on to explain: "A lot of it takes place in the present day. My character, for instance, is like 'OK, we're supposed to keep a low profile, no one should know.' So I become a Bollywood movie star, that's my secret identity. We're supposed to keep quiet, and I've become the biggest Bollywood movie star."

That all sounds pretty awesome, but it comes with a caveat: this is a major departure from the comic-canonical character Kingo Sunen. Given the fact that Kingo is a relatively minor character, however, this repurposing doesn't shift a whole lot of load-bearing canon. There are literally dozens of canonical Eternals that Marvel Studios is picking and choosing from for the Eternals movie adaptation, and on top of that, the comic series is a very niche title even among die-hard comic fans — so the usual uproar over historical deviation will likely be a bit muted. Let's take a look at Kingo Sunen as the comics know him, and see just how radical the change from print to screen will be.

Kumail Nanjiani's different take on Kingo

Kingo Sunen is one of the fourth-generation Eternals in the comics, born about 20,000 years before the modern era. The first-generation Eternals were created by the Celestials, the major omnipotent forces akin to gods in the Marvel universe, as the result of experimentation on early humans. (The only known Celestial featured invany major capacity in the MCU right now is Ego, Peter Quill's father, introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.) This is also how the Deviants, the major antagonists of the Eternals series, were created.

The biggest major canonical diversion for Nanjiani's version in the film is simple: Kingo Sunen appears as a Japanese man in the comics. It's not known why the race swap was made, but it is still a boon to include a previously-unrepresented non-white actor in Nanjiani (who is Pakistani-American) into the pantheon of Marvel heroes. The characterization beats remain similar enough — comics Kingo became a famous Japanese action star in modernity after living for centuries as a samurai, and movie Kingo will become a Bollywood musical star.

The size of the role is also a big change, as Kingo has a relatively minor role within the Eternals comic series. His greatest contribution comes from his tutelage of the more canonically-important Deviant character, Ransak, after many of the older Eternals leave Earth. The inclusion of Ransak remains thoroughly speculative at this point, because no major antagonists from the Deviant race have been named yet, and with so little canon material to adhere to, the film adaptation could easily take more liberties with Kingo's character as part of the overall plans for Phase 4. Only time — and a full trailer — will give us any more clues.