When End Game came the future was pretty uncertain for the Marvel Universe, with the studio going quiet on post End Game plans past Spider-Man: Far From Home. It wasn’t until SDCC 2019 when Phase 4 was revealed that we learnt how many new characters were going to be introduced to the MCU and if there was one that surprised us it was the Eternals. Now the Eternals have arrived and in cinemas does it signal bigger things coming for the MCU?
For anyone who doesn’t know The Eternals are the creation of Jack Kirby, co-creator of many Marvel characters with Stan Lee, on his return to Marvel after his time at DC where he created the 4th world with Darkseid and the New Gods. Coming off creating Gods in the DCU probably had a lot to do with what they Eternals are. The short of it is, in the Marvel Universe there are beings called Celestials who are responsible for the creation of…. everything. These Galactus sized beings are effectively Gods (big G) in the 616 Universe.
Long before the Kree tinkered with humans to create Inhumans, the Earth was the Celestial’s petri dish. Their experiments included 2 groups created by Jack Kirby, the Eternals who are immortal beings who were charged by the Celestials to effectively safekeep the Earth until the Celestial’s return and Deviants who were sort of genetic accidents.
The big difference was that while the Eternals were made immortal and not able to reproduce, Deviants were not and could. The 2 races were considered enemies of each other with the Eternals charged with defeating the Deviants and the Deviants resenting the Eternals and just wanting to live (there was a heavy subtext for equal rights with it being a book from the 1970s in the United States).
So where does Eternals the film sit in MCU Galactic lore?
The film introduces us to the Eternals. Beings sent from a distance world to rid the earth of Deviants. Arriving in 5000 BC the film brings us to current day with the Eternals having lived on Earth for 7000 years. Being sent by the Celestials the Eternals were protectors of Humanity for a time but were actually told not to interfere with human advancement, just to ensure it was not snuffed out by the Deviants.
With the Eternals being…. eternal they are of course considered long lived inside the Marvel comic universe and the same is true in the film. In a world where space aliens are Norse Gods other myths and legends like Athena, Goddess of the Hunt or Icarus who flew too close to the sun of course have their basis on something or someone that actually lived aka The Eternals.
The Eternals is a bit different to many of the other MCU films not following the same villain/hero journey formula it has something pretty significant for the MCU (aside from a sex scene) which is a living Celestial. Previously our first and only look at Celestials had been in the first Guardians of the Galaxy which gave us a floating decapitated Celestial’s head (Knowhere) and showed the relationship between the Celestials and the Infinity Stones. But in the Eternals we see the Celestials are definitely alive and kicking and playing an active role in the Universe that we were otherwise unaware of until this point.
So should you go see it? Coming in at a little over 2 1/2 hours and being one of the longest films in the MCU outside of End Game, Eternals is also one of the most globe spanning adventures going from Aztec Cities to London to the Australian ‘outback’. While there is plenty of action it is a bit more spread out as it tries to faithfully bring the lore heavy Eternals into the MCU which is does exceptionally well if you are familiar with Jack Kirby’s run or even the later Neil Gaiman one which brought the Eternals into the current day Marvel Universe (and lead to updates to Thanos’ origin making him half Deviant and half Eternal). If you suspect what is going to happen next in the MCU is going to be more Cosmic this is definitely required viewing.
Eternals is in cinemas across Australia right now