Written by Edwin Francisco
The teaser trailer for Marvel Studios’ Eternals is now out, and it’s time for an explanation on who they are.
Who created the Eternals?
The legendary artist/writer Jack Kirby created The Eternals after working on DC’s New Gods. New Gods was intended to be an epic story involving myth and science concepts. It was originally planned to have an ending. New Gods was eventually cancelled by DC Comics. Once Kirby returned to Marvel, he worked on The Eternals, which has similar themes to the New Gods. The series lasted 2 years from 1976-1978 with 19 issues.
The comic series was again cancelled since Kirby wanted to work on animation instead. The comic was never finished by Kirby. The story was continued and got cleared of all the plot holes in Thor (issues 283-301 and Thor Annual issue 7 which was also released as Thor and the Eternals: The Celestial Saga) written by Roy Thomas and Mark Gruenwald in from 1978-1980
Kirby never wanted The Eternals to be part of the Marvel Universe. Nevertheless, Marvel wanted to incorporate Kirby’s Eternals, thus they made a mandate forcing him to add the Hulk (but not really). After Kirby left Marvel, writer Roy Thomas applied them to Thor and ultimately made The Eternals part of the Marvel Universe. This made Roy Thomas’ contribution more significant to Marvel.
Kirby made a compelling standalone story, but Ron Thomas made it part of what we know today as a major history of the Marvel Universe.
What are the Eternals?
Remember the Celestials? Remember the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie where Star Lord and company went to Knowhere to meet the Collector? Knowhere is actually a severed head of a deceased Celestial. Knowhere was again featured in The Avengers Infinity War.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Star Lord’s father Ego is also a Celestial. Although unlike other Celestials with full humanoid bodies, he is only a glowing blue brain. However, despite such, he still had immense cosmic power. After millions of years, he was able to train himself to use his power. He had the ability to create a planet, and make life.
The Eternals were created by the Celestials millions of years ago along with humans and the Deviants.
Moreover, the Eternals were the most successful genetic outcome. The downside of their species is that they rarely reproduce. They were the inspiration of mythical gods and goddesses.
Deviants, on the other hand, were genetic failures of the Celestials. With monstrous looks, they also reproduce easily. They were the inspiration of monsters and demons.
For thousands of years, the Eternals and the Deviants have been waging a war hidden from the humans.
The Eternals hid in our world, but at the same time inspired ancient myths. This is why their names sound similar to the mythical gods we are familiar with. Like Ikaris is like Icarus, or Thena is like Athena.
The first time the Celestials returned to Earth was called “The First Host.” It was this time when the Celestials decided if the inhabitants of the planet, who were the humans, the Deviants and the Eternals, deserved to live.
“The Second Host” happened around 18,000 years ago. Deviants created an empire that spanned a continent named Lemuria. As they were preparing for battle, a neighboring continent called Atlantis was an unexpected casualty when the Celestials sunk Lemuria.
Around 1,000 years ago “The Third Host” travelled to Earth. Celestials have returned to experiment with their creation. Odin of Asgard and other Sky-Gods met with the Celestials and agreed not to interfere with them for a thousand years.
Kirby’s comic starts with Ikaris accidentally triggering “The Fourth Host.” Ikaris does his best to unite the Eternals together while trying to fight off Deviants.
Even though Hulk was shown in the comics (you can see him in one cover), this was not really Hulk, but an android to look like a giant green monster.
The Deviants created a bomb to hurt the Celestials, but the Eternals was able to destroy the bomb and save humanity.
The story of Kirby’s Eternals ended there with a cliffhanger.
The connection to the Marvel Universe started in the Thor comic book series which at the time is written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Walt Simonson.
Who are the Eternals?
They are ancient immortals who have lived their lives on Earth for a thousand of years. Created by the Celestials, they have powers like super strength, regeneration, teleportation, levitation and flight. For all Eternals, their life force is augmented by cosmic energy. The descriptions given will be based on the comics, we don’t know how much will be changed in the movie version of the Eternals.
Marvel Studios’ Eternals Explained
Ikaris, also known as Ike Harris. Played by Richard Madden. His unique ability is telepathy, telekinesis and enhanced senses to detect the coming of a Celestial. He is also known as one of the Prime Eternals. He posed himself as human, and he is the one who gets the Eternals back together after so many years of hiding.
Ajak is played by Salma Hayek. In the comics Ajak is a man. He fought in the Trojan War. He is also known as Tecumotzin by the Incans.
Sersi is played by Gemma Chan. She is also a member of the Avengers. She is known to have imprisoned all the evils that escaped the Pandora’s Box.
Thena is played by Angelina Jolie. Also known as Azura. She is also a Prime Eternal like Ikaris. She is often mistaken for the Olympian goddess Athena.
Kinggo is played by Kumali Nankiani. He is a skilled swordsman, and a famous celebrity. Based on the trailer, it seems that Kinggo is a Bollywood movie star based in India for the movie instead of being a star in Japan.
Phastos is played by Brian Tyree Henry. The character is an engineer and inventor. He also made Kinggo’s sword. This character is not created by Jack Kirby. The character was created by Peter Gillis and Sai Buscema in 1985. His memory was rewritten by Sprite to blend in as a human being named as Philip Stoss and lived as an automotive engineer in Germany.
Sprite is played by Lia McHugh. This character is originally a male. Sprite looks like a child but is just as old as any Eternal. Even though Eternals can change their appearance, none of them has the same level of skill as Sprite has. He can also alter perceptions of reality and memories.
Gilgamesh is played by Don Lee (aka Dong-seok Ma). He regularly intervened in human affairs, his actions were not received well by the leader of the Eternals, Zuras. Because of this, he was banished for centuries and called as the Forgotten One.
Makkari is played by Lauren Ridloff. The character is a speedster, she is also known as Mercury.
Druig is played by Barry Keoghan. He is a member of the KGB and a cousin of Ikaris. He is a power-hungry schemer who enjoys torturing people.
Who is Dane Whitman?
The odd character in the Eternals movie is Dane Whitman (played by Kit Harrington) since he is not part of Kirby’s The Eternals. He is created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema in 1967. He is also known as the Black Knight. In the Marvel Universe he is the third character to bear the name. The original Black Knight was created by Stan Lee and Joe Maneely in 1955. In the comics, Whitman was able to get some temporary powers from Sersi. But just like Hawkeye and Black Widow, he is just a normal human being. He is also a member of the Avengers, the Defenders, Ultraforce, Heroes for Hire and MI:13.
What do I think of the trailer?
The music is by Skeeter Davis singing “The End of the World” (1962). This is fitting for the scene since we see ancient man seeing the Eternal Ship in front of them. This means that the world that they know, will never be the same.
Based on the trailer, it shows a lot of moments in different timelines. I think everything we saw is mostly a flashback. But it does show that the Eternals were essential for the growth of knowledge and prosperity of the human race. Humans saw them as gods. Although in the narration, they said they have never interfered, but you do see in the scenes, that they taught humans through the many years.
It also gives me the impression that they have forgotten who they are with the scene with Gemma Chan fascinated with the passage through time in front of her eyes. This might be related to Sprite since in Neil Gaiman’s version of the Eternals, their memory was erased to live their lives as normal humans. This can also explain why they weren’t there to help during the fight with Thanos (Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame).
You also see the love of Ikaris and Sersi that span thousands of years.
Kinggo acting and dancing indicating that he is a popular Bollywood actor.
Druig seems to be controlling a village of humans. He never really got well with the rest of the Eternals since he believes that the humans must be their subjects. You can see that the people there in the small village have glowing eyes, which means that Druig has control over the people.
We also see Whitman with Sersi. Is there a love triangle in this movie? I also do wonder if Whitman will turn into the Black Knight in this movie, but that might be pushing it since the focus of this movie is the Eternals, but you never know. Marvel can surprise us like that. But I do look forward to the possibility that it will open up Kit Harrington to continue to be the Black Knight in the MCU.
At the end of the Eternals trailer, they are all eating a meal. They talk about the loss of Iron Man and Captain America, Ikaris suggested that he can lead the Avengers and the rest of the Eternals just laugh at him.
It does give me an impression that they are working on Kirby’s main story with the coming of “The Fourth Host” with the inclusion of Phastos. His story is actually a perfect setup for the movie since it doesn’t involve any other Marvel character, but it may open up the doors for a Thor movie or it can connect with Guardians of the Galaxy.
Going back to the song “The End of the World”, because in the comics, the Eternals are gathering to stop the end of the world from the Celestials.
The strange thing here for me is the inclusion of Whitman, which doesn’t make any sense to me personally in terms of the story. I know at some point in the comics Whitman and Sersi did meet while they were both members of the Avengers, which is I think pretty far from this timeline that we see in the trailer.
My impression here is that adding Whitman into the movie is pretty much a tribute to Thomas. Thomas created Whitman, and he also made the difficult job of laying the groundwork on fitting all the pieces Kirby left to work into the Marvel Universe. Roy did an amazing job working on it to the point that, it is hard to imagine the Marvel Universe that we know today without him.