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The Origin of The Celestials In The MCU

Celestials Origin MCU Thanos

Next year's Avengers: Endgame is expected to essentially relaunch the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with an even greater cosmic focus, and that may mean the MCU will explore the history and powers of the ancient race known as the Celestials. James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was expected to launch the MCU's cosmic future, with Gunn describing it as "the beginning of a whole other element of the Marvel Cosmic universe." Plans change, of course, and Gunn's departure means Guardians Vol. 3 is currently on hiatus, but that doesn't mean the MCU's cosmic direction has been put on hold. In functional terms, Guardians Vol. 3 appears to have been replaced by Chloe Zhao's The Eternals.

At the moment, of course, the long-term future of the MCU is a closely-guarded secret. Kevin Feige is flatly refusing to discuss anything after next year's Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home - and he's keeping talk about the latter to a minimum. That said, it's generally believed a powerful alien race known as the Celestials will play a major role in the MCU going forward. They were teased in Guardians of the Galaxy, the MCU's version of the Celestials was technically introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and in the comics the Celestials are strongly associated with the Eternals. So there's certainly a good case for arguing the momentum is building for the powerful alien beings.

Related: Marvel Movies: The Alien Races You Need To Know About

So who are the Celestials, and just where do they come from? What role can they be expected to have in future MCU movies? Here, we'll look at the original comics, the MCU's adaptation, and everything that's known - or can be deduced - about the Celestials' presence in the MCU to date.

The Celestials' Origins In The Comics

Celestials In Order

The Celestials were created by the legendary Jack Kirby in 1976. They were essentially envisioned as the ultimate Space Gods, who had seeded the potential for mutation and evolution within the human race countless millennia ago - and had done the same on countless other worlds too. The Eternals typically left a world with three separate strains of the indigenous population: the Eternals, the Deviants, and a majority "normal" strain that was also sometimes enhanced in order to improve its chances of survival. The Celestials would then leave a world, with the three races tending to fall into conflict, with each seeking dominance. In the comics, the Celestials visited Earth 100,000,000 years ago, and their experiments on humanity are responsible for the creation of the X-gene - a dormant gene that would one day trigger the birth of mutants in the human race (i.e. the X-Men). Kirby didn't originally consider the origins of the Celestials; after all, they were essentially his version of divine beings, and the Eternals literally worshiped them as gods. In fact, it's only recently that writer Al Ewing revealed the ancient history of the Celestials.

Al Ewing's Ultimates series saw him explore some of Kirby's craziest and most cosmic ideas. He revealed that the first universe was barren and devoid of life, empty and alone. This "First Firmament" created the race known as the Aspirants as its worshipers, industrious workmen who would populate the cosmos with life. But the Aspirants schismed when some of their number desired their creations be able to change and evolve, and these rebels became known as the Celestials. War raged between the Celestials and the Aspirants, a war unlike any in all of history. Finally, the Celestials unveiled their ultimate weapon - and destroyed the entire universe, shattering it into a Multiverse of infinite possibilities. The Celestials are thus, in a sense, the creators of the entire Multiverse; and they travel the stars, seeding the potential for evolution and change within inhabitants worlds, then returning to judge whether their creations are worthy to survive.

The Celestials' Origins In The MCU Movies

In the MCU, the Celestials have been portrayed as an ancient and possibly extinct race of powerful beings. The first Guardians of the Galaxy revealed that they used to travel through the cosmos, judging entire worlds; they used the Power Stone to destroy civilizations that they deemed unworthy to survive, and it's possible they also wielded the other Infinity Stones as well. Something ultimately happened to the Celestials, though, and they vanished from the universe. The space-borne mining colony, Knowhere, is the severed head of a Celestial; according to the Marvel Studios Visual Dictionary the planet Sakaar (seen in Thor: Ragnarok) is littered with the corpses of Celestials. This may well explain why the Grandmaster had his agents dress in Celestial garb, unable to resist having them look like the space gods whose bodies were scattered upon his world.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 revealed that at least one Celestial had survived, Ego, and explored his powers. It seems that the MCU versions of the Celestials draw power from an unexplained "living light," and can use this force to create matter itself. Thus the Celestial bodies were probably just constructs, Celestial will given form. According to Ego, if a Celestial stays away from its "living light" for too long, it is trapped in its current shape, and becomes mortal. This may well explain how the Celestials could be rendered almost extinct in some unimaginable, cosmic war; if they were kept away from the source of their powers for long enough, they would become vulnerable.

Page 2 of 2: The Celestials' Origins In The Tie-In Novels

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Key Release Dates
  • 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
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