The first major post-Avengers: Endgame installment in the MCU has already started casting. The Eternals is reportedly eyeing Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, and Richard Madden for starring roles. It’s even been rumored that Keanu Reeves will play the villain in the movie.
Now, unlike a character like Spider-Man or the Hulk, the Eternals aren’t particularly well-known to a mainstream audience. Obviously, when the new movie is released – especially with all those big names in its cast – mainstream audiences will quickly become pretty familiar with the characters. So, until then, here's a quick beginner's guide to the Eternals.
10 Jack Kirby created them after a stint at DC Comics
Marvel Comics legend Jack Kirby spent a brief stint at DC Comics where he worked on the epic tale of the New Gods. When he returned to Marvel from DC, he began working on The Eternals, having been inspired by the wide scope and sci-fi tinge of the New Gods storyline.
In a rare occasion in the annals of comic book history, Kirby did all the writing and art for the series himself. Usually, a writer and an artist are separately hired to both give their take on a property. With Kirby doing everything by himself, the Eternals characters are truly his creation.
9 They were created by the Celestials
The Eternals have been described as the next evolutionary step in the process that created human beings. This was kicked off by the Celestials, who decided to expedite the evolutionary process for a select few intelligent lifeforms on Earth to create the Eternals’ species.
Celestials will be familiar to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 revealed that Peter Quill’s biological father Ego was a Celestial, and Quill had some Celestial DNA in his body before he killed his father. This plot point will likely be integral in the Eternals’ integration into the MCU.
8 Their enemies were also created by the Celestials
Although the Eternals were created by the Celestials to defend Earth, Marvel’s cosmic gods had also created their evil counterparts a long time before. Prior to getting the idea to accelerate human evolution and turn the superpowered offspring into heroes, they had the idea to accelerate human evolution and turn the superpowered offspring into fancy food.
These were called the Deviants and the Celestials ate them as a delicacy. Naturally, the Deviants aren’t the happiest bunch, which led to a war between the Eternals and the Deviants. The Deviants are a religious people, who follow the text of the “Book of Krask.”
7 The Eternals have a long lifespan, but they’re not immortal
In the original comics, the Eternals have a long lifespan, but they’re not immortal. Their mortality has been altered and retconned and tweaked over the years, as other writers and artists have taken a crack at the characters, but officially, according to the initial canon, they’re not immortal. It just takes a really, really long time for them to die.
However the MCU producers decide to depict the Eternals, it will likely become the most accepted version of the characters. The Eternals’ extended lifespan has made it difficult for them to maintain friendships or romantic relationships with other humans on Earth.
6 The same cosmic energy gives the Eternals different powers
Like many Marvel heroes, such as the Fantastic Four and Captain Marvel, the Eternals acquired their powers from cosmic energy. However, exactly which powers they get depends on how their body channels that energy. They could acquire the power of flight, superhuman strength, mind control, teleportation, force-field generation, and the ability to shoot blinding bursts of energy out of their hands (or eyes), or any combination of them.
Also, several Eternals at a time are able to embody the Uni-Mind, which is an incredibly powerful psionic entity that pulls together the powers of every Eternal in it and basically becomes unstoppable.
5 There are five generations of Eternal
The Eternals are split into five generational groups. First Generation Eternals were born before the fall of Titanos, which was the Eternals’ personal city. Second Generation Eternals were alive at the time of the ground-breaking and catastrophic experiment pulled off by Chronus (a First Generation Eternal). Third Generation Eternals were born after Chronos’ experiment, but they were alive for the coming of the Second Host, which was 20,000 years ago.
Fourth Generation Eternals were born after the coming of the Second Host and Fifth Generation Eternals were born after the coming of the Third Host, which was just 3,000 years ago.
4 The Eternals were created to defend Earth
When the Celestials created the Eternals, their plan was to take a few people, give them cosmic superpowers, and leave Earth with a team of defenders. Obviously, Earth already has its own team of defenders called the Defenders.
They also have the Avengers, the Masters of the Mystic Arts, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the armies of both Wakanda and Asgard, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Captain Marvel, so as far as the MCU is concerned, Earth is doing just fine. Whichever way the film-makers decide to deal with the Eternals, the origin story will have to get around the fact that Earth doesn’t need any more defenders with superpowers.
3 The new movie will have a star-studded cast
The MCU’s upcoming Eternals movie will have a pretty star-studded cast. The movie will revolve around Sersi and Ikaris, with some supporting characters around them. Angelina Jolie has been confirmed to play Sersi, while Game of Thrones star Richard Madden is currently in talks to play Ikaris.
Also, Train to Busan’s Ma Dong-seok and Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani are reportedly involved in the cast. Thanks to his breakout role in Train to Busan as the heroic underdog, Ma has become one of South Korea’s most popular movie stars, while Nanjiani was Oscar-nominated for co-writing the screenplay for The Big Sick.
2 The movie will have the MCU’s first solo female director
Although one of the two directors of Captain Marvel was a woman and the Black Widow solo movie had hired a female director named Cate Shortland before that character was disappointingly killed off, 2020’s The Eternals will have the MCU’s first ever solo female director. It’s about time, right? We’re only 22 movies in.
Chloé Zhao has been confirmed to be sitting in the director’s chair on The Eternals. She’s also working on a biopic of Bass Reeves, the first black U.S. Deputy Marshal. Matthew and Ryan Firpo are writing the script for The Eternals and the movie will shoot in London later this year.
1 Thanos is technically an Eternal
The Eternals became a well-known cosmic species in the Marvel-verse, so later in the Marvel Comics canon, the Titanians and the Uranians were retconned and both species were revealed to have been Eternals the whole time. So, if the more recent canon is to be believed, Thanos is technically an Eternal.
This isn’t much use in the MCU now that Thanos has turned to dust at the hands of Iron Man and his homemade Infinity Gauntlet. Plus, Thanos was always characterized as a Titanian in the movies, so it seems as though the film-makers have been ignoring the weird Eternals retcon.