In less than two weeks, Marvel’s Eternals hits theaters. With it, Marvel takes its most ambitious swing yet. The Eternals are not only Marvel’s biggest team in terms of sheer numbers, but they’re so powerful the team makes the formidable Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy look like bumbling benchwarmers compared to the starting string. Not only that, but Eternals the movie is by far Marvel’s biggest in terms of scope and scale, crisscrossing the globe and telling a story across the ages that begins in ancient Mesopotamia.
That’s a lot to wrap the head around, and those who have never read the comics might be a bit overwhelmed at the vastness of the story and so many brand-new characters to learn. To help, here’s a guide to the Eternals, including all the characters and their powers, their origin, and how they’ll change the MCU moving forward.
The Eternals Members & Their Powers
The Eternals are a relatively huge team to introduce all at once, with ten – count ’em, ten – different characters on the team. They all share a same set of general powers, such as immortality, superhuman strength, speed, agility, durability, and energy manipulation. But each is also able to channel that energy manipulation into individual sets of focused but awesome powers. They’re slightly changed from the comic books in some cases, but still right in line with their characters in the original comics. Five characters are the offensive fighters: Ikaris, Thena, Makkari, Gilgamesh and Kingo, and five are the defensive brains: Ajak, Sersi, Phastos, Sprite and Druig.
Sersi (Gemma Chan) – Despite the large ensemble cast, Sersi is the main protagonist and the story revolves around her perspective through the centuries. Of the Eternals, Sersi is the one who loves humanity most, and her soulmate through the millennia is Ikaris. Each of the Eternals are loosely based on or inspired by mythological figures, and Sersi’s loose counterpart is the sorceress Circe from Greek mythology. Sersi has the power of transmutation, able to turn any material into any other material, from turning a truck into a storm of rose petals or transforming a Deviant into a tree.
Ikaris (Richard Madden) – Ikaris is the leader of the Eternals and fully devoted to their mission on Earth. Despite the fact that they’ve been together for thousands of years, he’s still smitten with Sersi; it’s their love story that drives the human portion of the story in a number of ways. Ikaris is, of course, based on Icarus from Greek Mythology, the man who flew too close to the sun. Fittingly, Ikaris has the power of flight and super speed, along with being able to shoot laser beams from his eyes and having incredible strength.
Ajak (Salma Hayek) – Ajak is the wisest of the Eternals and their spiritual leader as the only Eternal who is able to communicate with their leader, the Celestial, Arishem. She’s been fully devoted to their cause but in recent centuries, her faith has wavered as the Eternals grow more human. The name Ajak is derived from Ajax, the hero of Greek mythology, but is often depicted in conjunction with Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent god from Mesoamerican mythology. Ajak is able to create shields of energy and has vast healing powers, which have helped with her teammates’ ancient lifespans.
Thena (Angelina Jolie) – Thena is the Eternals’ fiercest warrior, able to wield any weapon as the team’s most battle-tested fighter. She is based on Athena, the Greek goddess of war and wisdom. However, it’s her deadliness that makes her so dangerous: Thena suffers from Mahd Wy’ry, a form of madness specific to Eternals that is caused by their minds eventually breaking under the strain of their immortal lifespans. Thena has the ability to create energy weapons out of thin air, though she prefers simple weapons like swords, shields, spears, and bows and arrows.
Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) – Kingo is a bit of a contradiction in the Eternals team. He’s cocky and more than a little self-absorbed, but is also the most observant of the team when it comes to perceiving things his found family is hiding. In modern times, he’s become a huge Bollywood star and he’s determined to create a documentary of the Eternals’ time together. Kingo is likely based on Kingu from ancient Babylonian mythology. Kingo’s powers revolve around fire; he’s able to fire powerful firebolts from his fingers and create balls of cosmic energy that are essentially like miniature suns.
Sprite (Lia McHugh) – Sprite is in many ways the most tragic figure of the Eternals; though she’s ancient like the rest of her adoptive family, she’s trapped in a child’s body for reasons unknown. She’s loving and loyal to the other Eternals, but knowing she’ll never be able to experience things like growing up, having a relationship, or being married has made her resentful and despairing. She’s based on Puck and other fairy-like characters from various mythology and literature. Sprite has powerful abilities of illusion not dissimilar to Loki, able to cast projections from fireworks to duplicating a volcano dozens of times.
Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok, as Don Lee) – Gilgamesh is jovial and loyal, particularly to Thena. When the Mahd Wy’ry takes control of Thena and she becomes a danger to the others, rather than erase her memories, Gilgamesh offers to travel with her to a remote location in order to watch over her and keep her from hurting herself or others. Gilgamesh, of course, is based on the legendary hero of “The Epic of Gilgamesh” from Sumerian mythology. Gilgamesh is the only member of the Eternals stronger than Ikaris, using his energy powers to increase his strength and create gauntlets to strengthen his punches.
Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) – Makkari is the Eternals’ only deaf member and the other Eternals communicate with her through sign language. When the others leave each other and settle around the globe, Makkari chooses to remain in the ship as her home, turning it into an enormous repository of books and ancient artifacts over thousands of years. In essence, she becomes a quasi-historian for the team. Makkari is based on Mercury from Roman Mythology, with the powers to match. Makkari is the fastest Eternal in existence, so fast that she breaks the sound barrier every time she uses her powers. Her brain works as fast as her legs, able to absorb and process enormous amounts of information at lightning speed.
Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) – As the Eternals’ inventor whose inventions have helped shape humanity for millennia. As he’s seen humans destroy each other with his creations turned into weapons of war, Phastos is the Eternal who has perhaps soured on humans the most. Despite this, he has been redeemed by meeting a human man and falling in love, living a quiet life with his husband and son. Phastos is based on Hephaestus, the god of the forge in Greek mythology. He’s the inventor of the Eternals, able to manipulate energy to create incredible weapons and tools to propel both humanity and the Eternals forward.
Druig (Barry Keoghan) – Druig is the most enigmatic of the Eternals and the one who struggles the most with their directive to not interfere with human conflicts. Of all the Eternals, he is best equipped to stop humans from killing each other, yet he isn’t allowed. Because of this, his resentment grows into an outright rebellious streak. Currently, he lives in a remote village in the jungle and is worshipped as a god. In the comics, Druig finds his roots in Slavic mythology, but there is no direct comparison. Because of his name, it’s also likely that he draws inspiration from Celtic Druids, who were said to possess powers connected to the natural world that included the ability to manipulate men’s minds. Druig has a terrifyingly powerful ability to control and manipulate the minds of others, able to control and command an entire city of people with ease.
Three Other Characters With Comic Book Roots In ‘Eternals’
The Eternals themselves are not the only characters in the movie, of course. There are three other characters who have their roots in Marvel comic books, one a future hero and two villains.
Dane Whitman (Kit Harington) – Dane Whitman is Sersi’s love interest in the present day, a seemingly normal human who works at the Natural History Museum in London. However, Dane learns of a secret tied to his family lineage. In the comics, he’s the current incarnation of the Black Knight, a superhero who wields the Ebony Blade, an immensely powerful sword that carries a curse, as well as mystical armor. He also had the legendary Excalibur for a time, and, at times in the comics, has had the ability to call up mystical weapons including the Shield of Knight and Sword of Light, as well as Strider, a winged horse gifted to him by the Lady of the Lake.
Kro (unknown actor) – Kro is the leader of the Deviants and evolves to have the powers of speech, reasoning, and human intellect. In the comics, a combination of strange genetic traits gives Kro an incredibly long life. It’s a fitting trait as he’s inspired by Cronus of Greek Mythology. Cronus was the personification of time and leader of the Titans until the Olympians led by his son, Zeus, overthrew him and imprisoned him and the rest of the Titans for eternity.
Arishem (David Kaye, voice) – Arishem is one of the Celestials and the creator of the Eternals. It is his plan that the Eternals have followed for millennia. In Arishem’s name, the Eternals have watched over Earth and battled the Deviants into oblivion, promising to protect humanity. However, Arishem may not be all that he seems, nor might his plan.
Eternals’ Backstory & Origins
The origin of the Eternals in the movie is changed slightly from the comics but broadly the same in its beats. Though there is a twist about their backstory that is one of the movie’s biggest reveals, the Eternals’ general origin story goes like this: Eons and eons ago, the Celestials helped to create the universe. But the life they created attracted the attention of the Deviants, fierce, malevolent creatures and apex predators that devoured that life. So the Celestials created the Eternals, equally powerful beings imbued with incredible gifts to stand in opposition to the Deviants. The Eternals were sent in teams all across the universe to protect and defend different planets from the threat of the Deviants.
The Eternals we see in the movie were sent to the planet Earth, arriving thousands of years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. They battled the Deviants for thousands of years until their enemies were eradicated from the planet, and over time, the Eternals became the basis for the various deities and figures in ancient mythology around the world. The Eternals were meant to protect humanity and let it grow, but were only allowed to nudge them a bit at a time, such as Sersi creating water to irritate a parched desert for crops or Phastos gifting them the invention of the plow. But they are never to interfere in human affairs, not even global war or genocide unless it directly involved the Deviants.
As with any found family, the Eternals each have their own ways of coping with the long centuries, including how they feel about their mission and Arishem’s master plan. On one end of the spectrum is Ikaris, who is loyal to the mission to a fault, and on the other end is Druig, who rebelled against the directive to never interfere and left the team centuries ago. The others fall somewhat in the middle, mostly still believing they’re doing good but also starting to question the wisdom of the grand plan. Eternals is a love story, but in many ways, it’s also the story of immortal children growing away from their parents and their parents’ rules.
How ‘Eternals’ Will Shape The MCU Moving Forward
Eternals, both the movie and the characters, is set to greatly impact the MCU long into the future. On a power level, the Eternals raise the bar exponentially and, with this being an origin movie, their powers have barely been explored. Even with having just scratched the surface of what they can do, the weakest Eternal still has powers and capabilities that rival the strongest characters currently in the MCU such as Captain Marvel and Thor at his most powerful. Marvel has already been forced to nerf a number of their characters in live-action, most notably the magic wielders Scarlet Witch, Loki, and Doctor Strange. After all, it’s hard for a guy who throws a shield and a kid who sticks to walls to match up against a witch who can rewrite reality on a molecular level or a sorcerer who can rip open holes in the fabric of space-time. That power disparity will be even more noticeable with the Eternals, and having them involved in any movie moving forward will require other characters to step up their game.
More broadly, Eternals is a vast movie. It’s not as though the MCU hasn’t delved into the cosmic end of things, with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, and Thanos certainly exploring that realm. But bringing the Celestials into the fold in a more significant way hints at how huge the span of the MCU is about to get. To this point, Ego is the only Celestial we’ve seen, and he was destroyed in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Ego’s powers in that movie were immense, and Arishem’s powers are arguably even more incredible. In Eternals, the Celestials are universe engines, the creators of galaxies and planets, the very beings that ensure the cosmos exists. Almost any Eternal on their own could give Thanos a run for his money, and the Celestials make Thanos look like a child with a toy glove, such is their power. In almost every way, Eternals will require Marvel to level up tremendously once it hits theaters, and it’s exciting to see how it will impact future stories, changing the MCU for good.
Eternals is in theaters on Friday, November 5th.