This week, the world finally got its first look at Eternals, Marvel’s upcoming superhero ensemble set to hit theaters in November. Of all the upcoming Marvel movies, Eternals has perhaps been the most mysterious, with no more than a few contextless leaked pictures from the set. The Eternals are a big question mark for the general moviegoing audience, similar to how the Guardians of the Galaxy were a completely unknown quantity outside of the most hardcore comic book readers prior to their movie’s release back in 2014.
Eternals is being directed by Chloé Zhao, who just won an Academy Award for Best Director with Nomadland. Based on the characters and comics created by Marvel legend Jack Kirby, it’s set to be one of the most ambitious movies in the MCU’s history. Interestingly, Zhao was the one to went to Marvel first; as a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she pitched herself for a project, first being considered for Black Widow before the job ultimately went to Cate Shortland. Shortly thereafter, she and longtime Marvel exec Nate Moore started working on a pitch and rough script for Eternals, and the pitch blew Marvel away. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige described it as “a very bold and very ambitious, sprawling 7,000-year story of humanity and our place in the cosmos.”
That’s a lot of ground to cover for any superhero movie, let alone one in which the extraordinarily large ensemble cast is full of completely unknown characters to the vast majority of people. To help you make sense of the trailer and learn who’s who and what’s what, dive into our character breakdown and crash course in everything you need to know before Eternals hits theaters in November.
Who Are The Eternals?
The Eternals are a mysterious and ancient humanoid race created by the Celestials to be the defenders of the brand-new Earth, meant to protect and guide humankind from behind the scenes. Their backstory is basically straight-up Ancient Aliens territory: A million years ago, when the Celestials visited Earth, they conducted genetic experiments on early proto-humans that sped up evolution and resulted in the Eternals. These experiments, and other events, eventually granted the Eternals nearly godlike powers once they discovered they could absorb massive quantities of cosmic energy and they use those awe-inspiring powers to protect Earth and its humans.
This protection is most often needed from the Eternals’ sworn enemies, the Deviants. Where the Eternals are near-perfect beings of great beauty and power, the Deviants are largely hideous creatures, their unstable mutations causing random and strange powers. Their animosity toward the Eternals and their mutual opposition goes back millennia, with the roots of their unending battle formed a million years ago.
Who Are The Cast & Characters Of Eternals?
This is the largest ensemble cast for a brand-new team of superheroes Marvel has tackled yet, and each member of the Eternals is integral for how the team operates. Marvel released some character descriptions a few months ago that give a better idea of how each character will fit into the movie and what their powers are.
Ikaris (Richard Madden) – The tactical leader and most powerful Eternal and takes pride in keeping the other Eternals safe. Moral, kind, and charismatic, Ikaris boasts the power of incredible strength, flight, and the ability to project beams of intense cosmic energy from his eyes. When the monstrous Deviants return after centuries, Ikaris leads the charge to unite the scattered Eternals to stop the new threat.
Sersi (Gemma Chan) – The Eternal with an affinity for humanity. Sersi is as happy working as a museum curator as she is saving humans from the Deviants’ threat. Sersi can manipulate matter, changing the makeup of any non-sentient material she touches. She’s also been in love with Ikaris for centuries and helps him recruit the Eternals for one last mission.
Thena (Angelina Jolie) – A fierce warrior more comfortable in battle than any other place, has the ability to use cosmic energy to form any handheld weapon she can think of. Often surly and aloof, she forges an unlikely friendship with Gilgamesh that spans centuries.
Ajak (Salma Hayek) – She is the spiritual leader of the Eternals. Her wisdom has helped guide the team since they arrived here from their home planet to help defend humanity from the Deviants and help humans advance to the modern civilization they live in today. Ajak can not only heal humans and Eternals alike, but she can communicate with the Celestials as well.
Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) – An Eternal blessed with the power of invention. He can create whatever he can imagine, provided that he has enough raw materials at his disposal. Over the centuries, Phastos has helped nudge humanity forward technologically while always keeping his brilliance hidden in the shadows.
Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) – She is the fastest woman in the universe. She uses her cosmically powered super-speed to scout planets for the Eternals. As the only deaf Eternal, the sonic boom that accompanies her cosmic running does not affect her. Ridloff herself is deaf and will be the first deaf superhero and actor in the MCU.
Druig (Barry Keoghan) – He can use cosmic energy to control the minds of men. Druig has withdrawn from the other Eternals because he disagrees with how they’ve interacted with humanity over the centuries. Aloof and powerful, at times, it’s hard to determine whether he’s a friend or foe.
Gilgamesh (Ma Dong-seok) –The strongest and kindest member of the team. He becomes Thena’s de facto partner when the events of the past exile them from the rest of the group. Capable of projecting a powerful exoskeleton of cosmic energy, Gilgamesh is a fierce warrior who has become legendary for his fights with Deviants throughout history.
Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) – An Eternal with the power to project cosmic energy projectiles with his hands. Over the centuries, he has become enamored with the idea of fame. In the present day, he’s a famous Bollywood star who must leave his life of wealth and celebrity to help the team repel the new Deviant threat.
Sprite (Lia McHugh) – Ancient even though she appears to be a 12-year old girl, she has the ability to cast lifelike illusions. Her friendship with Sersi hides a world-weary sadness because she’s been treated like a child by humanity for centuries. But Sprite is much stronger and smarter than she appears, which will come in handy while they battle with the Deviants.
Dane Whitman (Kit Harington) – The only non-Eternal main character. Dane was initially a normal human who develops a close bond with Sersi that in the comics becomes romantic. Later, he becomes the third to carry the mantle of the Black Knight, a mystical warrior who possesses the Ebony Blade, a weapon of incredible power.
What Will Eternals Be About?
Not much is yet known about the plot of Eternals thus far. But at some point in the movie, the Eternals split up and go their separate ways: Sersi is working as a museum curator; Kingo is a Bollywood star; Thena and Gilgamesh strike out on their own. But some drastic event – i.e. the threat of the Deviants – forces Ikaris and Sersi to rally the Eternals and bring them back together again in order to face down their greatest foe one last time and protect the Earth they’ve spent thousands of years defending.
In any case, Eternals is set to be one of the most visually and narratively ambitious movies Marvel has made. After that teaser whetting our collective appetite, it will be exciting to see what’s revealed when the first full trailer drops.
Eternals is in theaters on Friday, November 5. Add Eternals to Your Watchlist.