Marvel president and producer Kevin Feige has outlined a little of what fans can expect from the upcoming Phase 4 films, specifically the much-whispered-about The Eternals. At a press day for Captain Marvel, he spoke about the studio's plans for the MCU post-Avengers: Endgame and addressed how they would deal with both pre-existing characters and how they hoped to bring in new ones - depending on who survives the snap and everything else to come, that is.
Given that the next Avengers film will be a culmination of the 21 movies that have come before it, the idea of starting over after the fact is difficult to comprehend. But the studio has been plotting this out since screenwriters Matthew and Ryan Firpo were attached to The Eternals project in May 2018, and details got locked down along with Chloé Zhao as director in September. But when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was established over a decade ago, the films slowly introduced heroes one by one before gathering them together four years later in The Avengers. This time around, things will be done a little differently.
In an interview with Collider, Feige explained that while they would certainly bring back old characters in the next slew of films, "we like the idea of introducing an ensemble, doing an ensemble movie from the start, as opposed to building up as we did with the first Avengers." Introducing an entire group in one go has already been done in the MCU, and Guardians of the Galaxy proved that it could be a success, but don't expect the scope of this new group to be quite the same. Unlike the fun-loving crew led by Chris Pratt's Star Lord, The Eternals may be biting off a much larger piece of Marvel history. "Jack Kirby did an immense, amazing epic with Eternals that spans tens of thousands of years, and that’s also something we haven’t really done," Feige said. "Which is why that among many other things post-Endgame, we find appealing.”
Jack Kirby was indeed the genius behind the Eternals as characters, having thought them up back in 1976 when he introduced a time millions of years ago in which the Celestials created the eponymous superhumans as well as their darker counterparts, the Deviants. While the Eternals will be the first group unveiled to the world at large in Phase 4, they may not be the only one. For now, other previously announced Phase 4 plans include Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Black Widow, Doctor Strange 2, and Black Panther 2.
Going from the origins of these nearly immortal beings to their feats in the present sounds like a Herculean task, but director Chloé Zhao has proven adept at capturing the heart of an epic with films like The Rider under her belt. And Feige appeared confident in following the groundwork laid out by Kirby, whose influence has already had a marked effect on at least the visuals of previous Marvel blockbusters such as Doctor Strange and Thor: Ragnarok.
Some fans may be nervous at the thought of adding even more characters and competing histories, but the use of different time periods allows for an exciting way in. After all, Captain America: The First Avenger firmly established Steve Rogers in the World War II era before uprooting him to the present - and it made great use of both. How Captain Marvel handles the time jump has yet to be seen, but it'll provide some hints as to how the studio will handle a story that spans many more years and perhaps dimensions than ever before.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019