Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Eternals Characters That Mean More Than You Realize

Chloe Zhao's "Eternals" is a big movie, with big heroes, an epic storyline and cinematography screaming to be seen in IMAX. As such, it's easy to lose track of the film's smaller characters.

Whether it's the humans who love the timeless guardians of Earth, another who documents their adventures, or a few Eternals who don't get nearly as much facetime as they deserve, these key characters drive the plot, bring great humanity to some otherwise starchy storylines, and may even be hinting at greater implications in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With that in mind, let's take a (spoiler-heavy) look at five characters from "Eternals" that may seem fairly inconsequential the first time you see the movie. But look a little closer, consider them a little more deeply, and you may just wish a few — if not all — got their own spin-off films.

More movies are his reward (Dane Whitman)

Remember when Scarlet Johansson appeared in 2010's "Iron Man 2"? It was noteworthy, for sure, because Johansson was already a big star with films like "Lost in Translation" and would-be blockbusters like "The Island" under her belt. But her first appearance as Natasha Romanoff felt like the character was intended to be a scene-stealing sidekick, not someone who'd go on to become a top MCU character and get her own spin-off movie.

There's reason to believe that Kit Harington's Dane Whitman could be set for a similar ascension in this newest MCU phase. In "Eternals," it's almost laughable how non-heroic he is, existing for two apparent reasons: to ask the questions fans want answered ("Why didn't you go fight Thanos?"), and to be a supportive boyfriend. As Sersi (Gemma Chan) reveals to Dane that she is a god-like being, has been on Earth for 7000 years, and has an ex-boyfriend who could disintegrate him with the blink of an eye, Dane just makes goo goo eyes and takes her for long, romantic walks.

Which feels a little beneath the "Game of Thrones" actor who just finished playing Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, King in the North Warden, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. Now Kit Harington is just ... a boyfriend?

Perhaps this apparent insignificance is because, in scenes we never witness, he is indeed on his own hero's journey throughout the film. Near the end, Dane tells Sersi "Turns out, my family history is complicated" and, as any Marvel fan with a smartphone and a search engine can tell you, the name "Dane Whitman" has referenced a heroic character called Black Knight for decades. In "Eternals," Dane can't even climb a wall to keep up with his superheroic girlfriend; if he's indeed on the path to becoming the Black Knight, he'll soon be committing plenty of heroic acts on his own.

Of course, the most obvious reveal that Kit Harington will soon be wielding the legendary Ebony Blade sword and riding on horseback is the second post-credits scene. We see Dane — now without Sersi, whose fate has taken her elsewhere — addressing a family legacy that stretches back to the days of King Arthur. Examining the Ebony Blade, he delivers the ominous phrase "Death is my reward," before an off-camera voice interrupts him with "Are you sure you're ready for that?"

Rumor has it that Dane's story will be continued in 2022's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." In the comics, the Black Knight not only becomes an Avenger, but is known for his ability to navigate different time periods and alternate realities. Taking all this into account, you can see how Harington's character could become instrumental over the next several Marvel films.

The holder of secrets (Karun)

On the surface, the valet/filmographer of Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) feels like a walking punchline. Every time Kingo does something heroic, Karun (Harish Patel) is there to assure the Eternal that he got the shot; every time someone smashes his camera, Karun hilariously seems to whip out another one.

But look closer, and you'll see the one human that the Eternals have come to trust more than they ever have before, over thousands of years. Granted, it's not like they have much choice — Kingo insists that his valet come along for the reunion — but over time, they begin warming to the man behind the camera. Not only does Karun witness the group at their most tender moments (he sees Thena grappling with her apparent memory loss, he boards their spaceship The Domo, where they keep their greatest secrets), but he also seems to deliver some words of eulogy as the Eternals say goodbye to one of their own.

When the smoke clears, Karun possesses not only the friendship and trust of the Eternals, but also the most valuable assemblage of raw footage this side of the Zapruder film. Imagine being in possession of film footage that would immediately render all theology, religion and world history irrelevant. What will Karun do with this footage? What is he willing to do with it? And would he do anything without Kingo's approval?

By the end of the film, the world likely knows that some major events have occurred (exploding volcanoes and enormous people coming out of the ocean tend to get folks talking), but it's debatable whether the Eternals have "revealed" themselves. It seems that as their story moves along in the MCU, their existence will become common knowledge; don't be surprised if all that seemingly-comic-relief footage shot by Karun is what drags them into the spotlight.

The trailblazer (Ben)

While "Eternals" breaks multiple boundaries within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it treats most of these exactly the way they should be treated: as normal, everyday life. One of these is the relationship between Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) and his husband Ben (Haaz Sleiman), who the other Eternals learn have been building a life together in Chicago with their adorable son Jack (Esai Daniel Cross).

This is the first time a same sex couple has been featured in a Marvel Studios film. Their kiss, as Phastos is headed off to save the world, is not only a powerful moment, but a significant one for the LGBTQ community. Considering how many millions of people all over the globe watch every Marvel film, it also means a great deal personally to Sleiman, who came out as gay in 2017.

"Beyond a dream come true, it's life-saving," the actor explained to Variety at the film's premiere. "I wish I had that when I was a kid to see this. My god. I wish! Can you imagine how many lives this is going to be saving — kids, young queer folk, who are being bullied, committing suicide, and not seeing themselves being represented? And now they get to see this — it's above and beyond."

According to writer/director Chloe Zhao, Marvel had already laid out a blueprint for the family of Phastos when she came on board. Finding true love after thousands of years returns a faith in humanity to Phastos, and leads to his personal decision to not only fight for humans, but eventually return to them.

"What's important is to show that it isn't about a message we're trying to put out," Zhao told Variety, addressing the intentional ho-hum acceptance of the other characters in the film. "I think finding authenticity in moments like that is crucial for me, so it doesn't feel forced, so you could actually relate to them. That's the most important thing. It's not just about being the first. It's about do you actually feel for them, whether you're gay or straight or whatever."

So on one level, Ben might feel like just another "supportive spouse" character in the MCU, no different than Hawkeye's wife Laura (Linda Cardellini). On another level, that might make him one of the most important characters we've ever seen in the MCU.

Great lymon taste (Sprite)

In addition to being a refreshing soft drink, Sprite is among the very first Eternals, debuting in 1976's "Eternals" #9. But in the comics, she is typically a he, who inspired both Shakespeare (who created Puck in his image) and J.M. Barrie (who did the same with Peter Pan).

Because "Eternals" features 10 main heroes (plus the Dane Whitman storyline, plus the Deviants and Kro and Arishem and more), there isn't a lot of time for deep dives into these characters. As such, Sprite feels like one of the Eternals that gets short shrift.

In the comics, Sprite is much more fully-realized, and employs illusions much more frequently. Every bit as mischievous as Loki, Sprite also possesses matter-manipulating abilities similar to Sersi, and is strong enough to lift several tons.

In "Eternals," Sprite is compared to the Peter Pan story — not as its inspiration, but because the way she secretly yearns to be with Ikaris (Richard Madden) is reminiscent of how Tinkerbell can never be with the boy who wouldn't grow up. Ultimately, however, the MCU Sprite feels more like Pinocchio, who yearned to be real.

In "Eternals Volume 5" #1, released just a few months before the movie was released, it was revealed that the Eternals switch gender every few thousand years. This is never mentioned in the movie, but the fan favorite character is depicted as being female when she first appears on Earth, as well as thousands of years later in the modern age.

Kiss the cook (Gilgamesh)

Another Eternal who gets the Reader's Digest-treatment in the feature film is Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok). Amother comic character whose history with the title stretches back to the mid-'70s, that history has intermingled with Hercules, Achilles, Buffalo Bill and King David — and for a time, he even fought for the Roman Empire.

Perhaps it is appropriate, in a way, that he seems to receive the least screentime of any of the Eternals. In the pages of Marvel Comics, he was punished for many years after learning about the true nature of his heritage. Confined to Olympia, he was branded "The Forgotten One," and was subsequently ostracized for centuries.

In the movie, Gilgamesh is a chef that enjoys preparing bountiful feasts, and has also taken on the personal task of becoming a caretaker for Thena (Angelina Jolie). He also wields a big powerful punch, which feels a bit redundant after Marvel audiences have already seen Iron Fist, as well as Hulk and Red Guardian and multiple other characters who can do essentially the same thing. Which might explain why he doesn't seem to have much of a future in the MCU.

In the film, each Eternal is depicted as having their own unique power; in the comics, Gilgamesh also has superhuman speed, can shoot beams of cosmic energy, and can use his telekinetic power to take flight. Which is all very impressive, but perhaps not nearly as much as that meal he makes for the Eternals in Australia.