6:30 pm EDT, July 31, 2019

Who are the Eternals? What you need to know before Marvel’s ‘Eternals’

While some of the upcoming Marvel movies in Phase Four will feature some familiar faces, Eternals is uncharted territory. Here’s what you need to know!

At San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Marvel showcased their upcoming slate for Phase Four. Spider-Man: Far From Home closed the book on the Infinity Saga, and the fourth phase of the MCU will open with Eternals, an entirely new entry, with never-before-seen characters and powers. With some of the staple and familiar faces of Phases One through Three leaving the Marvel universe for good post-Endgame, reinvigorating the MCU with a new cast of characters is exactly what is needed to kick-off the next few years of movies and TV shows.

But who are the titular Eternals, and what exactly are their powers? We’re here to run through everything you need to know about the comic book origins of these MCU newcomers — though in true Marvel fashion, they’ll be switching things up to fit the needs of their on-screen counterparts.

The history of the Eternals

The Eternals made their comic book debut in 1976, headed up by Jack Kirby, who returned to the studio after working a stint at DC Comics. Kirby picked up where he left off with his unfinished Fourth World saga, using ideas that he had established there to shape the foundation upon which the Eternals was built. More specifically, he reused his concept of two advanced races of cosmic beings being locked in a never-ending war with one another.

Though the series was short-lived — it was canceled at Marvel before Kirby could see the story through to its conclusion — it introduced a ton of interesting ideas into the mythos. Not least of which was that Thanos was an Eternal, carrying the Deviant gene, giving the comics a direct connection to the MCU and providing a springboard for the first entry into Phase Four — should they choose to keep that as part of Thanos’ history, of course.

As for the Eternals themselves, they were created by the Celestials, who conducted experiments on early humans. The Deviant gene, which showed up in some Eternals, changed their outward appearance to be less human, and they craved war, though on the whole the Eternals are peaceful and live long lives.

The Eternals are also embedded into Earth history, which explains how they have been able to reside on Earth for 35,000 years without detection. In the Eternals comics, it is revealed that they impersonated the Greek and Roman gods in Earth mythology, but also have a mostly human appearance — though Eternals with the Deviant gene have different physical attributes.

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But the Eternals don’t just reside on Earth. They are scattered across the universe. Thanos — born on Titan — was the child of A’lars and Sui-San, and grandson of Kronos, the ruler of the Eternals on Earth, up until his accidental death. Kronos and his brother, Uranos, were locked in a bitter war, which ended (to a degree) after the two settled separately. Kronos, peacefully on Earth, and Uranos on Uranus. After Kronos’ death, A’lars brother Zuras took over leadership of the Eternals settled on Earth, while A’lars left for Titan.

Who are the Eternals? And what powers do they have?

Broadly speaking, the Eternals all share similar powers. They are effectively immortal, are immune to disease or poison, and are not affected by extreme temperatures. It is exceptionally difficult to hurt or injure them, and should they be, they can regenerate quickly. They can also absorb oxygen directly from water, meaning that they cannot drown. They can also develop more specific superhuman abilities — from super-strength, to flight, to telepathy — but often choose to focus on honing one or two in particular.

In terms of the characters confirmed to appear in Eternals, and their powers, they are as follows:

  • Ajak (Salma Hayek): Ajak is the leader of the Eternals. In the comics, Ajak is a male character, and is worshipped in Central America as several different gods. The Aztecs worship Ajak as Quetzalcoatl, and the Incans as Tecumotzin. His powers include levitation and flight, and he can also communicate directly with the Celestials.
  • Ikaris (Richard Madden): Ikaris is the father of Icarus of Greek mythology, who dies after flying too close to the sun. Ikaris adopts his name in honor of his son. Ikaris’ powers include cosmic energy manipulation as well as teleportation.
  • Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani): Kingo is part of a Japanese settlement of Eternals, and though he has the same powers and abilities as many of the Eternals, chooses instead to fight in the traditional manner of the Samurai.
  • Makkari (Lauren Ridloff): Makkari was born in Olympia. Originally a male, able-bodied character in the comics, the MCU’s Makkari is female and deaf. Makkari is able to create cyclones by running in circles, and is also able to sprint at the speed of light.
  • Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry): Phastos, unlike the other Eternals, is largely still a mystery. He is a weapon-smith, and forged Kingo’s sword, and is also technologically minded. Phastos can also creat illusions and wields a customized hammer.
  • Sprite (Lia McHugh): Another male-to-female character transition, Sprite is a mischievous trickster. The character exhibits destructive behavior and has difficulty comprehending mortality and the consequences of their actions.
  • Thena (Angelina Jolie): Thena is a warrior, for whom Athens was named. She grows close to and has twins with Kro, the leader of the Deviants. They have a tumultuous relationship, with Thena opposing and later forgiving Kro for his actions, which are often villainous.
  • Gilgamesh (Don Lee): Gilgamesh is one of the strongest Eternals. Often called “The Forgotten One,” Gilgamesh’s powers are comparable to Thanos. He can levitate, and is an expert at hand-to-hand combat.

Other Eternals, of course, could appear, but these are the ones that Marvel have officially announced will be appearing in the movie. Eternals are also capable of combining into the Uni-Mind, a being made of light and pure energy. It is created when several Eternals come together, joining their will and intelligence.

Marvel’s Eternals is slated to premiere on November 6, 2020.

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