How Marvel's Eternals Are Different To The Inhumans & X-Men

Inhumans X-Men and Eternals

Marvel's Eternals will add a new race of superhumans to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and they'll be unlike anything audiences have seen on the big and small screens so far. In Marvel Comics, most characters associated with super-powered races, such as the mutants and the Inhumans, are distinguishable by one or two abilities that set them apart from everyone else, but the Eternals, who are fueled by cosmic energy, are more powerful - and more unique - than the X-Men, the Inhumans, and the Asgardians.

Directed by Chloe Zhao, Eternals is the second film in Marvel's Phase 4 slate. The upcoming movie, which centers on an ancient group of immortal aliens created by the Celestials, stars Angelina Jolie as Thena, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Salma Hayek as Ajak, and more. So far, the movie's cast only includes one human character, Marvel Comics superhero and classic Avenger Black Knight, played by Kit Harington. Since the Eternals in Marvel Comics have existed for thousands of years, the movie could dive deep into the history of the MCU while also exploring more of the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe.

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Related: Marvel's Eternals Movie Cast & Character Guide

The Eternals are indeed a deep cut from Marvel lore and a lesser-known property that hasn't received much attention in the comics, not to mention other forms of media. The Eternals are the brainchild of legendary writer and artist Jack Kirby, who co-created many of Marvel's biggest heroes and villains. After starring in Kirby's 16-issue series, the Eternals experienced a very limited presence in the decades that followed, only appearing in a handful of miniseries and occasionally being featured as guest stars in other comic book titles. Now, the Eternals are set to be the MCU's third big-screen superhero team.

Eternals Are Fueled By Cosmic Energy

In the comic, the Eternals were engineered by the Celestials. The Celestials, often referred to as "The Space Gods", came to Earth thousands of years ago and experimented with the DNA of primitive humans. The results of their experiments were two offshoots of the human race: the Eternals and the Deviants. Unlike the structurally unstable, hideously deformed Deviants, the Eternals were capable of living for centuries and were able to easily pass for humans. In fact, many X-Men and Inhumans characters have also been forced to hide in the shadows all their lives, similar to the Deviants, because of their non-human looks.

It wasn't until much later that they became immortal. A member of the first generation of Eternals, Chronos, was experimenting with cosmic energy when something went horribly wrong. An explosion destroyed Chronos' body and caused the cosmic energy to spread throughout the Eternal city. The genes of the Eternals were altered permanently, giving both them and all of their future descendants immortality. What Chronos forever changed was the genetic structure of the Celestials' greatest creation and made them Marvel's most powerful characters. Thanks to Chronos' accident, every Eternal has a large quantity of cosmic energy flowing through their veins.

Eternals Have A Shared Set of Powers

Immortality is just one of the many benefits that comes with being an Eternal. All Eternals possess a vast array of super powers, which is the most important thing that makes them different from other Marvel races. Mutants and Inhumans each have a specific ability (or two) that makes them special. For instance, Storm can control the weather and Cyclops can shoot optic blasts from his eyes. The Eternals, on the other hand, have a shared set of super powers granted to them by their cosmic energy. Every Eternal is capable of flight through levitation, superhuman strength, telepathy, teleportation, manipulation of matter, and the ability to shoot cosmic beams from their hands and eyes.

The Eternals also have complete mental control over their molecules, which is what makes them nearly impossible to kill. Even if their bodies are destroyed, the Eternals can simply reform their bodies by bringing their molecules back together. Among their most unique abilities is a process called the "Uni-Mind". In times of emergency, the Eternals gather together in one large group and form the Uni-Mind, a special ceremony in which the Eternals assemble into a singular, collective being shaped a like a giant brain. The Uni-Mind possess the combined intellect of the Eternals and numerous other abilities that they can use to communicate with Celestials and take on any other threat that's endangering the universe.

Related: MCU Theory: Eternals Explains Why So Many Infinity Stones Were On Earth

How Eternals Are Different From Each Other

While it's true that the Eternals all share these cosmic abilities, this doesn't mean that all Eternals are the same. Due to the control the Eternals can exert over their molecules and their cosmic energy, they can channel this energy in different ways. The Eternals can choose to focus this energy and use it to build up certain powers, and train them to become superior to others. Of course, improving their powers is a process that takes time, and since the Eternals have lived for thousands of years, time is something they have in abundance.

This is the reason why the levels of each Eternals' powers vary, and why some Eternals are more powerful than the rest. The Eternals featured in the movie are a perfect example of this. All Eternals possess super strength, but the strongest of them all is Gilgamesh, who is on the same level as Hulk, Thor, and Hercules. Since Gilgamesh spends more time developing his super strength, his other powers, such as his ability to manipulate matter, receives considerably less focus and isn't as potent as it could be. Makkari, one of the three gender-swapped Eternals in the film, is obsessed with becoming the fastest being in the universe, so he focuses his cosmic energies on his speed, making him fast enough to outrun even Quicksilver himself.

The Eternals, with all of their impressive powers, will certainly bring plenty to the table when they join the MCU. How Marvel Studios will approach the complex origin of their powers, the intricacies of their many abilities, how they work, and what makes each character unique will be interesting to watch when Marvel's Eternals hits theaters in 2020.

More: What Are The Eternals? Marvel’s New Cosmic Movie Team Explained

Key Release Dates
  • Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
  • Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
  • Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022
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