Chloé Zhao will make her Marvel directorial debut this November with Eternals. The film forms a part of Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), kick-started by WandaVision earlier in the year. Following the trailer released last month, viewers had their first glimpse into the plot and characters. While the film will deviate from the source material, many of the characters do hail from the comics. So, contributor Olivia Gacka has scoured the Marvel encyclopedia and looked into their origins.
*This article contains spoilers from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Who are the Eternals?
The Eternals—and their evil counterparts the Deviants—are the result of genetic experiments led by the Celestials, an alien race. Created by Jack Kirby (the genius behind Captain America, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, among others), they first appeared in The Eternals #1 (1996). Due to their cells containing cosmic energy, they are nearly immortal and possess various superhuman abilities, as pointed out in the trailer. Interestingly the Celestials performed similar experiments on the Skrull home planet. As seen in recent MCU projects, the Skrull keep appearing in the post-credits scenes and will be the focus of the Secret Invasion series. Perhaps this is a thread to unravel in Phase Four?
In the MCU timeline, the Eternals come out of hiding as a result of the events in Avengers: Endgame, admitting that they stayed hidden up until now. Likewise, in the comics, the Eternals integrated into society and worked in the background to protect humanity.
Sersi (Gemma Chan)
In the comics, Sersi is thousands of years old and originates from Olympia in ancient Greece. Sersi has traveled all over the world and come across several figures known from history and legends, which explains the ethereal and mystical vibe from the trailer; Merlin, Thomas Chatterton, Odysseus all form a part of her backstory. As she appears to be working in a museum in the film, the connection to her past is evident.
In more familiar territory to the MCU, Sersi made important alliances with Captain America and the Black Knight and also joined the Avengers for a time. Perhaps we can expect Sam Wilson (who is now Captain America) and Sersi to cross paths in the future?
Kevin Feige confirmed that Sersi will be the lead of the film.
Ikaris (Richard Madden)
Unlike most Eternals, Ikaris didn’t originate in Olympia; instead, he belonged to a community called Polar Eternals from Russia. In connection to the MCU, Ikaris worked with the leader of the Inhumans, Black Bolt, a character first mentioned on the Marvel television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Ikaris has an extensive history with the Avengers, having fought alongside Thor and battled a robotic Hulk. But the best factoid comes from his early adventures. When the Celestials (Second Hosts) came to Earth, one of their cosmic energies was dispersed. They were hidden in the Pyramid of the Four Winds and referred to as the ‘Dreaming Celestial’. Ikaris was one of the few to know and later reassembled the Eternals (who were under a spell and believed they were human) to confront the buried Celestial. This is a great parallel to the film as Ikaris, along with Sersi, reunites the group to fight the Deviants.
Thena (Angelina Jolie)
Thena also has an Olympian upbringing. Her father, Zuras—ruler of the Eternals in the comics—changed her name from Azura to reflect an alliance between the gods of Olympus and the Eternals, after the goddess Athena.
Out of all the Eternals, Thena has the strongest connection to the Deviants. She had a relationship with supervillain Kro, a Deviant warlord. The two even had twins. Throughout the various comic book issues, Thena was often at odds with Kro during various wars and attacks, hence their complicated history makes for a fascinating story. It often affected Thena’s alliances, especially when occasionally working against the Eternals to protect Kro.
Thena led the Eternals as Prime Eternal because of her heritage before she was forced to step down.
Ajak (Salma Hayek)
The character of Ajak was re-written as a woman for the Eternals film, and in fact Salma Hayek even narrates the trailer as the Eternals leader. Similar to Ikaris, Ajak’s origins also begin in Russia as part of the Polar Eternals. Ikaris was actually the Prime Eternal in the comics (after Thena) but their roles appear reversed in the film.
One of Ajak’s first acts within the group was in the battle against Kro. Later joining Hercules’ God Squad, the character fought alongside other gods to defeat and learn more about the Skrulls. We sound like a broken record with the Skrulls but hear us out. Is it not curious that Ajak fought the Skrulls in the Secret Invasion? Though the film is evidently not following the plots exactly, the Skrulls keep circling almost every new character in this Phase. It can’t be a coincidence!
Gilgamesh (Don Lee)
Referred to as the ‘Forgotten One’, no one knows this mysterious characters’ real name. Like Sersi, Gilgamesh came across many prominent figures such as King David and Achilles throughout his long life. He also spent time with the Avengers and helped Mr Fantastic and the Invisible Woman to reform the group. As a member of the Eternals, he was integral in the fight against the Dreaming Celestial.
In the film, reports reveal that he is Thena’s partner from exile. His official character profile says: “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.”
Druig (Barry Keoghan)
First appearing in The Eternals #11, Druig along with the other Eternals helped to overthrow the Deviants before pursuing an anti-heroic path. He was always unscrupulously lethal in nature, and at one point he even joined the KGB and tortured Ikaris to learn the location of the subdued Celestial. The move landed him in a Celestial prison. Self-preservation drives Druig and so his appearance in the film suggests chaos.
Similar to other Eternals, Druig also appeared in several comic book runs, such as Thor Annual #7 and Captain Marvel #5. He also happens to be Ikaris’ cousin.
Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry)
Phastos made many of the devices for the Eternals as the weaponsmith of the group, including Kingo’s sword. He is often mistakenly referred to as god Hephaestus (created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, first appearance in Thor #129). While it’s unclear whether he holds this role in the film, an array of weapons were shown in the trailer it’s likely that Phastos forged them.
He was also present for many of the aforementioned events in the comics, such as the revival of the Eternals by Ikaris and Thors’ fight against the Deviants.
Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani)
A swordsman and samurai, Kingo is also a film star/producer who first appeared in The Eternals #11. His profession in the 2021 film hails straight from the comics, as shown by the camera visible in a group shot in the trailer. A cameraman often followed him around in the story. Kumail Nanjiani pointed out that this is how his character blends in with the humans. On the New Hollywood podcast he said:
“My character, for instance, is like ‘Ok we’re supposed to keep a low profile, no one should know.’ So, I become a Bollywood movie star, that’s my secret identity. We’re supposed to keep quiet and I’ve become the biggest Bollywood movie star.”
Makkari (Lauren Ridloff)
Makkari has also been re-written as a woman for the film and will be the first deaf superhero in the MCU. Like in the comics, the character is known for their immense speed, nearly beating Quicksilver and Captain Marvel in Quasar #17. Also connected to the Dreaming Celestrial, Makkari becomes his prophet (Eternals Vol.3 #1-7) and even acts as his vessel. Although meeting the Celestials in the film is unlikely at this stage, this recurring plotline is an intriguing mystery that connects all the characters that could potentially make an appearance in the future. Makkari’s origins are deeply rooted in mythology from allegedly living through Vlad the Impaler’s reign and the Trojan War.
Sprite (Lia McHugh)
As the mischievous member of the Eternals, Sprite spent centuries tricking humans. In the film, Sprite’s younger appearance compared to the rest of the Eternals follows the comics, but don’t underestimate Sprite. She was often present and integral to various Eternals plotlines, namely in the threat against Thena and Kro’s twins and helping to repair the Dreaming Celestial’s chamber when it was broken during an earthquake.
In the comics, Sprite also crossed paths with Gilgamesh during an attack against the Deviants. The two then formed an alliance when fighting B’Gon, a sorcerer.
Words by Olivia Gacka
Eternals is scheduled to release on November 5, 2021.
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