Marvel’s Eternals is currently set to release on November 4 in Australia but outside of early teasers we don’t know much about the characters or why they’ve found a home on Earth. To learn more about Sersi, Thena, Ikaris, Kingo and the rest of the team, we’ll need to turn to an older source: the classic Marvel Comics where the Eternals originated.
These characters have been around since the 1970s and were created by Jack Kirby, one of the legends of the comics industry. But despite their sudden popularity in the wake of the film news, they haven’t really been used all that much in comic storylines. Instead, they’ve existed on the outskirts of Marvel, only helping during world-ending events.
Because they tend to keep to themselves and look after their own family affairs, they rarely appear in major Marvel events. (The current theory is this position in the MCU was originally supposed to be filled by The Inhumans before the TV show adaptation tanked, although this is unconfirmed.)
So, who are the Eternals?
The Eternals are a group of advanced humans created by the Celestials, primordial beings who shaped the modern Marvel universe and helped create the “divergence” in human DNA that led to evolution and mutation.
Unlike humans, the Eternals were created to have longer lives, greater capabilities and higher intelligence than regular humans, leading to them becoming a more advanced race with greater technological capabilities. For this reason, they were put in charge of protecting Earth from outside threats — but they’re often thwarted by more powerful alien races like the Kree (seen in Captain Marvel/Guardians of the Galaxy) and The Deviants, their prime enemies.
Both groups previously lived together on Earth as one unit, but disagreements over who should “rule” humanity led them to splinter, with the Deviants leaving Earth to build their own colony in space. This left a core group of Eternals on Earth who live in secret (some on Olympia in Greece) while attempting to protect humanity from itself and from the galaxy.
Recent comics have “retconned” (rewritten) the Eternals history to state they were created to “cultivate” humanity to protect Earth as fodder for a deadly villainous pathogen, but it’s likely this plot will be a bit too convoluted to include in their first film.
All you really need to know is the Eternals are old, they live on Earth and they were created to be protectors.
Who is appearing in Marvel’s Eternals?
Marvel’s Eternals will spotlight the lesser-known heroes of the Eternals with an all-star cast. Here’s everyone involved, who they’re playing and what you need to know about each character.
Gemma Chan is playing Sersi, a matter manipulator who focuses on magic. She’s also a trained dancer and skilled in martial arts.
Kumail Nanjiani is playing Kingo, an Eternal who’s perfected the art of energy projectiles and is reportedly a Bollywood film star in the movie.
Richard Madden is playing Ikaris, the leader of the Eternals. He shares the same abilities as the other members of the team (flight, strength, speed etc.) but he can also blast energy beams out of his eyes.
Angela Jolie is playing Thena, a warrior with enhanced agility, speed and strength as well as the ability to use cosmic blasts as weapons or to form objects like swords.
Kit Harington is playing Black Knight, a hero who wields a magic sword.
Lauren Ridloff is playing Makkari, a deaf superhero who uses sonic booms to scout planets for life.
Brian Tyree Henry is playing Phastos, a hyper-intelligent scientist who’s also one of the first gay superheroes in the MCU.
Salma Hayek is playing Ajak, a wise woman who can communicate with the Celestials.
Lia McHugh is playing Sprite, a young Eternal with the ability to cast powerful illusions.
Don Lee is playing Gilgamesh, an Eternal with a super-powered exoskeleton made of cosmic energy.
Barry Keoghan is playing Druig, an Eternal who can manipulate minds.
So far, we don’t know how these characters will interact with each other or whether the Deviant sect of the Eternals will play a role in the film.
Marvel’s Eternals: Trailer
What we do know is the trailer for Eternals is very exciting.
It also answers the question on every Marvel fan’s mind. If the Eternals are devoted to protecting Earth, why didn’t they help stop Thanos?
So far, Eternals looks nothing like the rest of the MCU — and that’s sure to be an important factor in differentiating the film now that we’re two decades into building the Marvel Universe.
It’s likely we’ll learn much more about the Eternals and how their comic origins will play into the movie as we get closer to the film’s November 4 release.
This article has been updated with additional information about Marvel’s Eternals.