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

Marvel Eternals Movie

Marvel's Eternals will give the Marvel Cinematic Universe its third big-screen superhero team. Directed by Chloe Zhao, the movie was officially confirmed at SDCC 2019 with a November 2020 release date. Starring Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden and more, the second film in Marvel Studios' Phase 4 slate will tell the story of the Eternals, an immortal race of super-powered beings created by the Celestials, who were introduced to the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Eternals are the brainchild of one of Marvel's most celebrated writers and artists, Jack Kirby. When Kirby's New Gods project at DC Comics didn't turn out the way he had hoped, Kirby developed a story for Marvel Comics with similar themes. The result was The Eternals, a comic book series about a race of immortals living amongst humans while awaiting the arrival of the Celestials on Earth. The series was cancelled less than two years later, leaving several plotlines hanging, although the Eternals have reemerged a few times since, sometimes in their own comics and other times as guest stars in other titles like Thor and The Avengers.

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Related: Marvel's Eternals Movie Cast & Character Guide

The Eternals have received less exposure in comics (or in any other form of media) than all other properties Marvel Studios has brought to the big screen (even the Guardians). Though the group primarily consists of lesser-known heroes, that could soon change when they join the $20 billion cinematic universe.

Marvel's Eternals Origin

Olympia Eternals Ikaris

Millions of years ago, cosmic god-like beings known as the Celestials came to Earth and experimented with human DNA. The product of their experimentation was the creation of two offshoots of the human race, the Eternals and the Deviants. The immortal Eternals are vastly superior to both the human race and the genetically deformed Deviants. Since Eternals physically resemble humans, they have found it easy to live amongst them in secret, whereas the Deviants have been forced to find a safe haven underground.

Earth isn't the Eternals' only home. Some of them split off and settled in other areas of the universe, such as Saturn's moon, Titan. As Eternal civilizations developed and expanded, there were eventually Titanian, Urianian, Polar, and Olympian branches of the species. The Polar and Olympian Eternals are both based on Earth, with the main group settled in the mountains of Greece in the hidden city of Olympia.

Marvel's Eternals Powers And Abilities

The Eternals are potentially the most powerful race in the Marvel Universe. Nearly unkillable, this group of immortals is fueled by cosmic energy that grants them a shared set of powers. Every Eternal is gifted with super strength, telepathy, and can levitate, shoot beams of energy out of their eyes, teleport, and manipulate matter. In short, every Eternal is a force to be reckoned with in Marvel Comics.

Related: The Eternals Could Be A Prequel To The Entire MCU

However, despite this shared set of powers, not all Eternals are exactly the same in terms of their abilities. Since their cosmic energy is the source of their powers, the Eternals can channel it in different ways to suit their own interests. This means that some Eternals have honed one or more of their abilities to make them better than others. For instance, Sersi can manipulate matter on a grand scale that puts all other Eternals to shame. Gilgamesh, the strongest of them all, is capable of holding his own against Marvel's biggest heroes.

Perhaps their most important and most unique power is their ability to form the "Uni-Mind". The Uni-Mind is a special ceremony performed by the Eternals in times of emergency. When entering the Uni-Mind, the Eternals gather together and transform into one collective being. This singular entity created by the Uni-Mind possesses unsurpassed intellect and numerous other abilities that it can use to solve whatever problem is threatening the planet.

The Deviants, The Eternals Enemies, Explained

When the Celestials created the Eternals and the Deviants, only one of the experiments proved successful. The Eternals were viewed as perfect and god-like, while the Deviants were regarded as hideously deformed, structurally unstable failures. Unlike the Eternals, the Deviants aren't able to live forever. Instead, their one hope for their civilization is evolution. The deeply religious Deviants have long prayed that since the Deviants are an ever-changing species, with time they will evolve into something better, but this has yet to come to pass.

The Deviants are the main antagonists of the Eternals in the comics, and they're expected to play the same role in the movie. Prominent Deviants who could appear in the film include Kro, Ransak the Reject, Karkas, and Ghaur.

Related: Marvel's Eternals Movie Is A Perfect Chance To Explore Thanos' Past

Interestingly, the comic book versions of the Deviants have a few connections to existing MCU characters, though it's unclear if they'll ever be addressed in Eternals. The shape-shifting Skrulls are the Deviant offshoot of an alien race experimented on by the Celestials. Thanos, a Titanian Eternal, possesses the Deviant gene, which explains why he has the immortality of an Eternal and the physical characteristics of a Deviant.

Famous Eternals

The core group of Eternals in the comics consists of Ikaris, Thena, Sersi, Makkari, Gilgamesh, and Zuras. Of these, only Zuras and Sersi aren't officially confirmed to be in the movie. Zuras is the wise father figure and leader of the Eternals while Sersi is a fun-loving party girl, an Avenger, and one of the Eternals' most powerful members.

Ikaris, Thena, Makkari, and Gilgamesh will be portrayed by Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Lauren Ridloff, and Don Lee respectively. Madden's Ikaris is typically the main protagonist in Eternals comics. Though not their official leader, Ikaris is often the one with a plan for fighting the Deviants. Thena, Zuras' proud daughter and successor, doesn't always see eye-to-eye with Ikaris. Thena is also involved in a forbidden romance with Kro, the only immortal Deviant and one of the Eternals' biggest villains.

Makkari, who is one of three characters to be gender-swapped for the Eternals movie, is a speedster with a desire to become the fastest person in the universe. Gilgamesh, known as "The Forgotten One", is an outcast despised for interfering too much in the affairs of humans who the Eternals only turn to in times of need.

The most well-known Eternal in the comics, Thanos, isn't even connected to the main group, nor is his brother, Starfox. Since both are Titanian Eternals, their interaction with the Eternals from Earth is limited to just a few stories. If Thanos' heritage is explored in Eternals, it could form a bridge that connects Marvel's new cosmic team to the wider MCU.

More: Every Marvel Phase 5 Movie Confirmed

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
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