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The Dark Eternals Ending We Never Got To See

Warning: Spoilers for Eternals ahead!

"Eternals" is one of the most intriguing Marvel films to date, not only introducing an entire team of new characters, but also a new mythos that sheds light on the operations of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large. At the center of the film are the Eternals themselves, consisting of Ajak (Salma Hayek), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Sersi (Gemma Chan), Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Druig (Barry Keoghan), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), and Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), a group of immortal beings created by the Celestial Arishem to protect Earth from the Deviants.

Of course, there's a twist, and at the end of "Eternals," most of the team – with the exception of Ikaris and Sprite — stand against the intentions of Arishem, when they discover his intentions to birth a new Celestial from within Earth and destroy all life on the planet. While Earth is saved, the conclusion is decidedly bittersweet, with Ikaris flying into the sun, the rest of the team splitting up, and then — in one final shock — Arishem returning to Earth for judgement, as the massive Celestial snatches Sersi, Kingo, and Phastos from their lives, carries them into space, and disappears for parts unknown. 

Essentially, "Eternals" leaves the audience on a cliffhanger. However, this ending wasn't the original plan, and recently, director Chloé Zao revealed that her original idea for how to leave viewers would've been even more grim.

The Eternals nearly lost their memories again

In a December 2021 conversation with Empire, Zao was asked about the ending of "Eternals" — and in particular, if the ending was what was originally written before the final cut. Zao clarified that, in her creative process, her original endings never end up being what she settles for in her finished films, explaining that the editing process is "when you find your ending." When it came to "Eternals," though, she wasn't afraid to acknowledge that her original idea on where to leave the superheroes was far darker than what ended up in theaters. "[W]e actually had another ending that is really bleak," Zhao said. "Bleak. I didn't hate it, because I'm used to films that are more melancholy. But I don't think it went down well with audiences."

The interviewer pushed further, asking Zao how bleak the ending really would have been. Zao said, "It used to end with everybody back on the ship, minds erased and just going on to another planet, like 'The Twilight Zone.' I remember when it goes to black, everyone was like, 'I don't know what to do.' And also, it's the MCU, and you want to be excited for what's next."

It's worth noting that, based on the actual ending, it's entirely possible that this scenario is what happens to the three Eternals that Arishem captures, and audiences just haven't seen it yet. That said, the inclusion of Starfox (Harry Styles) finding the other remaining Eternals does leave some room for hope. Either way, at some point, the fate of the Eternals will be revealed — whether in a hypothetical "Eternals" sequel, or another MCU film — but the heroes are certainly up against steep odds.