Marvel’s ETERNALS arrives in theaters November 5, bringing 10 more Super Heroes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This number may seem daunting, but read on for an overview of each one. You will also see our review of the film.
The Eternals have been protectors of earth for 7,000 years. As their name suggests, these 10 heroes have eternal life, and their job is to protect earth from monstrous creatures called Deviants. The Eternals were alerted to the Deviant threat by the Celestials, a race of cosmic builders. Remember Ego from GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY II (played by Kurt Russell)? He is a Celestial. We also get a glimpse of a Celestial head being excavated for its brain matter when Peter Quill, Gamora and crew visit Nowhere in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.
Ever since they defeated the Deviants together several thousand years ago, the Eternals have gone their separate ways – living on Earth and blending into society. Now the Deviants have mysteriously returned, and the Eternals are forced to reunite in order to defend humanity once again. Chloé Zhao (Nomadland, Academy Award winner) directs the film, and Kevin Feige and Nate Moore are the producers.
Meet THE ETERNALS Characters
The Eternals are a diverse and powerful group, harnessing cosmic energy which manifests itself in different powers within each individual. When they work together, their powers compliment each other. Off-duty, however, the ten heroes act as any other dysfunctional family group, each with their own agenda. Let’s learn more about each one and how they relate to one another.
Played by Salma Hayek (Frida, Desperado). Ajak is the matriarch – the wise and spiritual leader of the 10 Eternals. She interfaces with the Eternals’ leader, Celestial Aramesh.
Played by Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians). She loves humanity and Earth, and she is able to change an element into something else. For example, she can change a rock into water, or cotton, or bubbles. She is the mediator of the group. Sersi has been in love with Ikaris, and we even see a sex scene!
Played by Richard Madden (Rocketman, Game of Thrones). Ikaris is considered all-powerful and shoots laser beams from his eyes. Often he is the last defense between humans and Deviants, and generally thought of as the strongest in the group. He has been in love with Sersi.
Played by Angelina Jolie (Maleficent). She is a fierce warrior, brandishing a shield and sword from thin air when duty calls. Her joy is in battle, and if you think her name sounds like “Athena”, the goddess of war, you are correct. When she’s not on the battlefield, though, she has a mental health disability that affects the whole group.
Played by Don Lee (Ma Dong-Seok) (The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil). Much like Thanos, he has a cosmic “iron” fist that he wields when necessary. However, his fearsome strength gives way to a kind heart. He is Thena’s protector when she is not in battle.
Played by Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley). He has cosmic-powered hands and is full of attitude and flair. In fact, he has become a famous Bollywood Movie Star! He and his sidekick director provide much of the comic relief in the film.
Played by Lia McHugh (The Lodge). Sprite is eternally young – an old soul in a 12-year-old body, with a “Peter Pan” haircut to match. As her name suggests, she is a bit like the sidekick “Tinker Bell” of the group, with an attitude to match. Much like Loki, she has the power of illusion.
Played by Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta). He is supremely intelligent and gifted as an engineer and inventor. His inventions manifest throughout human history, helping humans develop at a faster rate. For example, the wheel and steam engines – both of which advanced human society by leaps and bounds. He has integrated himself into society as a same-sex couple, and the two have a child as well.
Played by Lauren Ridloff (The Walking Dead). Makkari has super-speed, which comes in handy during times of crisis. Makkari is deaf, and reads lips and American Sign Language. The actress, Ridloff, is also deaf.
Played by Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk). Druig is an aloof, intense loner, with the power to control multiple minds at once.
Despite all these cosmic Eternals, there is one character representing humanity. Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones) plays Dan Whitman, who works at the National History Museum of London with Sersi. He has a special connection with her, which is tested when Sersi reunites with her former lover Ikaris. The two Game of Thrones brothers are pitted against each other in this film!
ETERNALS is a long, complex film, but excels at introducing the characters one by one so they don’t become overwhelming. Similarly, the story was laid out in chunks easy enough to grasp on first viewing. But if you want to dig into the details, like how the visuals, score and costumes tell the story, you’ll have to see this dense film 2 or 3 times. Chloé Zhao is an intelligent director and she has packed layers upon layers into this 2.5 hour movie.
Even the locations tell a story. Unlike many Marvel films shot with green screen, filming took place in practical locations as much as feasibly possible. Zhao pushed for this based on her naturalistic style of filmmaking. You will see London, the UK countryside and several different sites in the Canary Islands.
Zhao: “The movements of the camera, the wide-angle lenses and the deep focus allow audiences to explore the world within the frames and to make discoveries themselves. The visual experience of this film must feel immersive and interactive enough for audiences to believe that these characters have walked the earth for 7000 years. It’s not possible to do that on a stage.”
Marvel excels at hand-picking directors with particular visions and style, letting them tell a Marvel story in their own way. Because of the intriguing visual language, ETERNALS did not feel like a Marvel film until characters mentioned Thanos and the snap. With the dawn of Phase 4, Marvel Studios has been trying something new, something different, and branching off into new directions.
The newness is not all good. Because the film focuses on eternal characters over thousands of years, the story gets so big that it becomes unrelatable at times. This is no simple popcorn-munching Blockbuster a la INDEPENDENCE DAY or DIE HARD, it requires your full concentration for the duration. The slower periods between action sequences also tend to drag, especially towards the end of the movie. On the bright side, patented Marvel humor was all over the film, and provided much-needed relief from the heavy themes and dense plot. Be on the lookout for some Star Wars, and even DC references!
THE ETERNALS excels at portraying diverse and powerful characters because of its diverse and talented cast. We also see our first acknowledged same-sex married couple in a Marvel film. This movie is not only full of ethnic diversity, but sexual orientation, disability and age diversity as well. A deaf actress portrays the first deaf Marvel superhero and we see an equal number of men and women on the team. This movie also features two big-name actresses, Salma Hayak (55) and Angelina Jolie (46), proving that the days of women’s Hollywood shelf-life extends well beyond 30. With so many diverse characters, chances are you will have an affinity for one or two that will catapult you into the story.
Two months ago, SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS blew me away. THE ETERNALS did not quite live up to this standard, but is still a solid addition to the MCU. THE ETERNALS opens in U.S. theaters on November 5, 2021. Will you see it in the theater? What did you think? Please let us know on Facebook or Instagram, and join our Facebook Group for family, friendly camaraderie.
Quotes are courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Media Production Notes and Press Releases.