TV & Movies

Who Are The 'Eternals'? A Character Guide to Marvel's Newest Heroes

Eternals promises to be a real shakeup to the MCU. Having the Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloe Zhao helm the film already set Eternals apart from other Marvel projects — because, in addition to her impeccable directing style, Zhao introduced the studio to the wonders of natural lighting! And real-life landscapes!

But seriously, Eternals looks stunning, plus it introduces fans to a whole new set of characters whose existence has wild implications for the many films to follow. Unlike our rag-tag group of superpowered humans (and Thor), the Eternals are a race of god-like immortals. Created by the mysterious Celestials, they’ve lived long enough to watch civilizations on the planet rise and fall, from Olympia to the present day. And yes, they’ve seen the events that took place in the previous phases, but they had their reasons for not stepping in.

In this upcoming film, we’ll learn more about the immortal humanoid aliens and maybe meet their dangerous counterparts, the Deviants. In the comics, the genetically unstable Deviants raged a millennia-long war against the Eternals, which could be a game-changer to the MCU.

Whatever happens in this movie is sure to ripple across the rest of the universe…. or multiverses. Which means it’s time to answer the question on the tip of your tongue — who are these new heroes?

Sersi (Gemma Chan)

Much of the Eternals’ story is expected to center on Sersi. Unlike others, she has a deep love for humanity and in the comics, lives among humans more than any Eternal. In fact, she was even invited by Captain America to join the Avengers for a time — using her powers to defend humanity from harm.

Sersi is able to alter molecular and atomic structures, changing matter, including that of living things. Despite being immensely powerful, she’s often content to live casually amongst humans, and in the comics lives as everything from a dancer, and actor, to an adventurer.

When we catch up with Sersi in Eternals, she’s working as a museum curator and dating a human, Dane Whitman (Kit Harington). Chan told Entertainment Weekly, “[Sersi’s] interesting because she is this immortal being, but she’s very grounded as well. She’s a little bit of a free spirit and just loves being amongst humans.”

Ikaris (Richard Madden)

If the name Ikaris sounds familiar, then you’re on the right track. This Eternal got his name from a tragic incident that occurred during his early centuries on Earth. In ancient Greece, after falling in love and marrying a woman, he had his first son. The young boy, Icarus, marveled at his father’s ability to fly, so the Eternal built his son a pair of mechanical wings and … well, if you don’t already know, the kid tragically flies too close to the sun and falls to his death. Thus, Ikaris chose a name.

Ikaris is the subject of many myths, folktales, and even Biblical events (rumor has it he helped guide Noah’s ark). It’s in large part because of his powerful cosmic abilities, which allow him to fly and shoot energy beams from his eyes. Madden told EW that his biggest struggle in portraying the immortal was figuring out how he responded to the world around him. Madden said:

“I had to work out, how do you play someone who’s seen everything and done everything? “How do you play them to not be bored of everything because you’re seen it and done it?”

Ikaris takes pride in keeping the other Eternals safe and actually has a complicated relationship with Chan’s Sersi. Romance is complicated enough and apparently adding immortality to the mix does relationships no favors. Madden said, “there’s a deep level of romance in two people that have been around for thousands of years and yet still choose each other.”

Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani)

Most Eternals like to keep a low profile, but Kingo loves the spotlight. In the comics, he’s a major action star who relies on his samurai skills both on camera and off. He’s notable for being a skilled swordsman, which we’ll likely get to see onscreen, but it’s certainly not Kingo’s only talent.

In Eternals, he is also a Bollywood star, which presented Nanjiani with the challenge of a complicated dance scene. Of this Nanjiani said:

“I’m not a dancer, I have zero rhythm. I had to take months and months of classes to do this. So it was very challenging, but I know that if we could pull this off and capture the joy and excitement of a Bollywood dance number in a Marvel movie, that would be special — because I grew up watching Bollywood movies. I knew every Bollywood movie until like the late ’90s. So to be able to do an homage to the genre of movies that I loved and grew up watching was really special.”

Phastos – Brian Tyree Henry

Phastos is an intelligent inventor, known in the comics for creating some of the Eternals most iconic weaponry. Back in his Ancient Greece years, Phastos was mistaken for Hephaestus, the Olympian God of fire and metalwork. Just as powerful as his fellow Eternals, he shares the ability to self-heal and project cosmic energy, but also has a genius-level intellect and becomes a master technologist. Phastos can create any weapon he can imagine, son long as the raw material is at his fingertips.

Marvel has also hinted that Phastos will be the first openly gay character in the MCU. Henry shared his excitement at being cast in the film, saying:

“I never in a million years thought I’d be a part of the MCU. I have always been a huge fan. I’ve been obsessed with the concept of superheroes and the concept of mankind needing saving. And I think that when you get these group of people together, who just have these intimate senses of super powers and saving humanity, it’s something that we all kind of need. It literally brings everyone together regardless of where you’re from. I’m still freaking out that I’m a part of it.”

Sprite (Lia McHugh)

We can not stress enough that the Eternals are thousands of years old. It might be hard to believe when looking at the very young McHugh, but Sprite is both ancient and dangerous. The character is often thought of as a trickster, appearing in the comics both as a villain and an antihero. Like Sersi, they can alter molecular structures and, like Ikaris, tamper with cosmic energy. Don’t let the childish appearance fool you — Sprite is extremely powerful.

McHugh talked to EW about relating to this aspect of her character. She said, “I sort of related to her in the way that I’ve lived my whole life because I look younger than I am. I really related to her in that way and in wanting to grow up a little bit, but being stuck in a way.”

Makkari (Lauren Ridloff)

Makkari is best remembered for being the fastest Eternal. Often described as impatient and hyperactive, Makkari’s comic iteration was obsessed with speed and pushing their abilities to the limit.

In the Eternals film, Makkari will be the first deaf superhero in the MCU, which is a particular point of excitement for actress Lauren Ridloff. She said:

“It makes so much sense to have this diversity and representation within the MCU because what the MCU is offering the world is amazing. They’re offering a way for us to hope, to be able to get up and keep going and fight for what’s important. More and more people are starting to see themselves in that universe, and that’s powerful.”

Druig (Barry Keoghan)

Early speculation predicted that Druig would be the villain of the film. Despite being an Eternal, Druig is more of a loner than the others, tending to be aloof. Over the many centuries, he becomes withdrawn and doesn’t share their investment in humanity. In the comics, he even turns against the Eternals, after scheming behind their backs. Druig also has an ability that makes him seem a tad scarier than the others, as he’s able to manipulate people’s thoughts.

Keoghan shared a bit about his first day on set, revealing that he was the last to get into costume.

 “When I arrived and put it on for the first time, it was kind of nice to walk out and see the rest of the cast’s reaction. They were like, ‘Whoa!’ It’s a weird feeling to see yourself like that. As soon as you put the boots on your posture transforms. You definitely notice how your whole demeanor and everything just changes.”

Gilgamesh – Don Lee

Gilgamesh is one of the more mysterious Eternals, often referred to as the “Forgotten One and “Hero.” In ancient times, he roamed the planet and defended humanity by overthrowing tyrants and fighting off dangerous beasts. Lee describes his character extremely powerful and “the strongest warrior of [the] Eternals.” He went on to say:

 “He’s protective over his family and humans, and he has a solid, dependable character that serves his team in battles. At the same time, he’s a funny guy and has a sense of humor.”

Thena (Angelina Jolie)

Thena is one of the Eternals’ fiercest warriors. She’ll be showing off some intense acrobatics and a vicious combat style, plus her ability to manifest weapons. And if you’re wondering just how powerful a warrior she is, know that Thena was often mistaken for Athena, the Greek goddess of war.

To prepare for the role, Jolie trained in ballet and spent plenty of time practicing with various weapons. But when it came to performing in front of the camera, she had the additional challenge of fighting with “weapons” that would be added in post-production. Jolie said:

“It is one of the weirdest things to train for because you’re throwing things, grabbing things, breaking things in half. You feel a little nuts. You’re just throwing your hand out as if you’re thinking, ‘Is that a sword? Is that a spear? Is it a lasso? What am I doing?’ Then you get into it and it gets really fun, but it’s a puzzle.”

Ajak (Salma Hayek)

No superhero team is complete without a wise and powerful leader. Ajak is a powerful warrior with a deeper understanding of the Celestials than the rest of the group. In addition to the typical strength and cosmic abilities of the Eternals, Hayek’s Ajak can also heal others. And while she certainly serves as a stoic source of power, the actress wanted to emphasize Ajak’s role as the group’s matriarch.

Hayek said, “She’s full of contradictions. She’s the bridge between the Eternals and the Celestials, and it’s never easy to hold two sides together.”

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