Eternals: What We Know About Marvel’s Phase 4 Movie

Ever since its announcement in 2018, fans are eagerly awaiting the release of Marvel’s Eternals, and the wait is almost over. Releasing in November after being delayed by a year, Eternals will introduce Jack Kirby’s immortal humanoids into the MCU. Featuring an all-star cast, Eternals looks to recreate the magic of Guardians of The Galaxy and pave the way for more superhero team-up movies without any buildup or solo movies before them (like the Fantastic Four and X-Men reboot). With Oscar-winner Chlo&#233 Zhao helming the film, Eternals will surely be among Marvel’s best works. Eternals released its official poster and first trailer in May, which was viewed 77 million times in the first 24 hours alone. With the release date drawing near, another trailer will be out soon, presumably with the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in September.

First debuting in 1976, Eternals are a race of genetically engineered humanoids created by the all-powerful Celestials to defend the Earth. The Eternals share many similarities with DC’s more popular New Gods, both created by Jack Kirby. Eternals are not very popular even among hardcore Marvel fans, so all the gender and race swaps haven’t created a furor till now. Less popularity also allows the makers to take liberties with the mostly outdated source material and mold it for a more modern audience. The film will also feature MCU‘s first disabled and LGBTQ superheroes. Good Omens and The Sandman writer Neil Gaiman partnered with artist John Romita Jr. for an Eternals miniseries in 2006. He helped reinvent the Eternals for the modern era, and the upcoming film will likely be influenced by Gaiman’s work as well. If it wasn’t for the global health crisis, we’d already have gotten Eternals by now, along with a few other Hollywood big-budget ventures. But as they say, better late than never. Here is what we know about Marvel’s Eternals so far.

RELATED: Eternals Enemies the Deviants Revealed in Leaked Concept Art

Chlo&#233 Zhao is directing Eternals


Academy Award winner Chlo&#233 Zhao was hired to direct the film in 2018. She was also a frontrunner to direct Marvel’s Black Widow. A lifelong fan of fantasy films and Manga, Zhao has promised a captivating film incorporating the eccentricity of Kirby’s works with her own unique vision. Producer Kevin Feige was blown away by Zhao’s pitch, “It was an absolute spectacular pitch that Chlo&#233 put together”, referring to her presentation, “about a very bold and very ambitious sprawling 7000-year story of humanity and our place in the cosmos.” Zhao has lauded Marvel for granting her the freedom to make Eternals the way she wanted.

“It’s just been such an incredible experience working with the team at Marvel. I want to be careful saying “my vision,” even though I do want people to know they did support what I wanted to do. I want people to know that. But I also want to make sure they know that I got the support of this incredibly talented team, some of the most talented artists in the world. And it really is a village to make this film, but they did let me lead. Yes.”

Eternals comprises a stacked star cast

With close to a dozen Hollywood A-listers, the Eternals cast is on par with an Avengers movie. Here is the star-studded line-up of the film.

  • Gemma Chan is Sersi, an Eternal with the ability to manipulate matter. She disguises herself as a museum curator in the present day. According to producer Kevin Feige, Sersi is the lead character, and her relationship with Ikaris and Dane Whitman (Richard Madden and Kit Harington’s characters) will be a major plot point of the film. Eternals marks Chan’s second MCU outing, having portrayed Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel previously.
  • Richard Madden is Ikaris, the tactical leader of the Eternals with the ability to fly and project cosmic energy beams from his eyes. He also has superhuman strength. The Game of Thrones star is the co-lead alongside Chan.
  • Angelina Jolie is Thena, a fierce warrior who can form any weapon using cosmic energy. She and Gilgamesh have formed a close bond over the centuries.
  • Kit Harington is Dane Whitman, a descendant of the original Black Knight, Sir Percy. Whitman is a human who becomes Black Knight and wields a powerful mystical sword called the Ebony Blade.
  • Kumail Nanjiani is Kingo, an Eternal able to shoot cosmic energy projectiles from his hands. Unlike the comics, where he was a Japanese film star, Kingo is a famous Bollywood star in the film. Nanjiani got absolutely shredded for the role and modeled his performance and looks after Bruce Willis’ John McClane and Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan.
  • Salma Hayek is Ajak, the spiritual leader of the Eternals with abilities to heal. Ajak can also communicate with the Celestials. Hayek has called her a motherly figure to the Eternals.
  • Brian Tyree Henry is Phastos, an Eternal and an intelligent cosmic-powered inventor who secretly helps humanity progress technologically. He is the first superhero to be depicted as gay in an MCU film.
  • Barry Keoghan is Druig, An Eternal and cousin of Ikaris, who can use cosmic energy to manipulate the minds of others. He disagrees with the Eternals‘ interactions with humans. He is reportedly a cult leader in the film.
  • Don Lee is Gilgamesh, the strongest Eternal who can project a cosmic energy exoskeleton. He and Thena will become lovers in their exile from the other Eternals.
  • Lia McHugh is Sprite, an Eternal who can generate illusions. She appears to be a 12-year-old child, but she is stronger and much older than she looks.
  • Lauren Ridloff is Makkari, an Eternal who possesses cosmically powered super-speed. Ridloff plays the first deaf superhero in an MCU film. Makkari is also the fastest being in all of Marvel universe.
  • Ajak, Makkari, and Sprite are gender-swapped versions of their comic book counterparts. Ozer Ercan will play a smuggler and Haaz Sleiman plays Phastos’s husband. Harish Patel, Gil Birmingham, Jashaun St. John, and Zain Al Rafeea have been cast in undisclosed roles.

Zhao has advocated for diversity in the film saying…

“I wanted it to reflect the world we live in. But also I wanted to put a cast together that feels like a group of misfits. I didn’t want the jocks. I want you to walk away at the end of the movie not thinking, ‘This person is this ethnicity, that person is that nationality.’ No. I want you to walk away thinking, ‘That’s a family.’ You don’t think about what they represent.”

As of now, no previously existing MCU character is appearing in the film. Thanos creator Jim Starlin has teased the mad titan’s appearance in the film along with another one of his creations. But take that with a grain of salt as nothing’s been confirmed yet. Eternals will introduce an entirely new world and characters to the fans.

What is the plot of Eternals

Marvel released the official plot synopsis along with the trailer and poster.

“Marvel Studios’ Eternals features an exciting new team of Super Heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, The Deviants.”

Except for the aforementioned synopsis, other plot details have been scarce. Marvel is going to great lengths to keep the plot of Eternals a secret. The actors, directors, and even Feige himself have been reluctant to share any critical information about the story. Fans expected the official trailer to reveal more about the mysterious beings, but unfortunately, it didn’t. The only substantial information the trailer divulged was that the Eternals sat through numerous wars, disasters, alien invasions, and even Thanos’ snap without interfering. Why these powerful beings would ignore all that remains a mystery. As per Walt Disney Studios’ head of marketing Asad Ayaz, there is a reason why the Eternals trailer was light on plot details. Here is what he said to THR,

“If you saw the Eternals trailer, it really gave nothing away. It’s just an introduction to the characters and tone. It was a very, very early tease. We have so much more to do on that. We will be very judicious because we do have other films and shows prior to Eternals hitting. And Eternals is such a special movie with all-new characters, and we have two Marvel movies prior to that.” He continued, ” We are making sure that the way fans experience them (Marvel’s upcoming films) is unique and special and it doesn’t feel like you’ve got all these different Marvel properties hitting you at the same time.”

Where have the Eternals been till now

A question that everyone who saw the trailer asked. Living among humans in various disguises is what the Eternals have been doing since they arrived on Earth 7000 years ago. The trailer gave us a glimpse of ancient wars, with a few Eternals trying to help out. Why did they stop? Did they lose faith in humanity? Why did they live for so long among humans without helping them? Have they fought other extraterrestrial threats before? What could possibly draw them out now? The upcoming film will surely provide the fans with all these answers. After the very emotional deaths of beloved characters in the infinity saga, fans were not amused to see the Eternals chilling around and talking about Captain America at the dinner table. Zhao and the team better come up with a good reason in the film to explain the Eternals‘ absence. Let’s hope the reason is not amnesia as it was in Gaiman’s comic run in which Sprite induced memory loss in the {Eternals]. Some fans have also theorized that they vanished with Thanos’ snap. Hopefully, the film gives out a better, more unique explanation for the Eternals’ non-interference.

The Deviants may not be the only villains in Eternals

The merchandise for the film revealed that the Deviant Kro is an antagonist in the film. Known for his shapeshifting abilities, Kro is a ruthless warlord and leader of the Deviants. According to a popular theory stemming from an unconfirmed leak, one of the Eternals will be the villain. Kro may have taken the form of an Eternal, or it could be something else. But if Kro is in the movie, shapeshifting will be involved. Another sneaky detail from the trailer that many fans missed was the introduction of Druig. Hayek, during her voiceover in the trailer, says, “Throughout the years, we have never interfered, until now.” Barry Keoghan appears onscreen the moment Hayek says, “until now.” Druig appears in a forest, the first look trailer showed the Eternals in a forest, and there was a blink and miss shot of people with blank eyes pointing guns in a forest. That can’t just be a coincidence. As far-fetched as it may sound, these trailers take a lot of time to make and always include Easter eggs or other references, and Marvel is known for this type of crafty foreshadowing. Plus, Druig has been portrayed as an antagonist in the comics as well. He could be the reason why the Eternals come out of hiding. Black Knight has also been a villain in the comics, but not Harington’s iteration, Dane Whitman. And even if he was, he doesn’t possess enough powers to be so big of a threat that all the Eternals have to come out of hiding to stop him. Marvel is either hiding a Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian level of twist, or the villain is someone we have already seen. Other options are possible but unlikely.

Where was Eternals filmed

Featuring gorgeous locations and mesmerizing visuals, the first trailer of Eternals proved that Marvel wasn’t kidding when they said Chlo&#233 Zhao will have full creative freedom while making the film. The trailer flaunted Zhao’s brilliant knack for visuals consisting of beautiful wide shots against a sun-lit background. Eternals was shot on location in England in London and Oxford, and the Canary Islands. The rest of the film was filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. Kevin Feige told Variety about Zhao’s insistence to shoot on location.

“What she talked about was really fighting for practical locations, for practical elements – yes, in a movie that is full of visual effects and characters with extraordinary powers, but doing as much as possible on far-flung locations. And that starts to reap benefits visually immediately.” He added, “We cut a little sample reel together, I remember, to show Disney higher-ups. And it was so beautiful, and I had to keep saying, ‘This is right out of a camera; there’s no VFX work to this at all!’ Because it was a beautiful sunset, with perfect waves and mist coming up from the shore on this giant cliffside – really, really impressive stuff.”

Kevin Feige’s comments received some flak from fans. He was rebuked for making such a big deal out of practical effects and real locations. As if nobody has ever taken that approach to filmmaking before. Marvel’s over-reliance on CGI and their formulaic approach towards filmmaking were also the subject of the “Martin Scorsese’s Marvel is not cinema” controversy. Still, it is a breath of fresh air to see Marvel trying something new. And judging by the trailer, Zhao has put that $200 million budget to good use because Eternals does look quite stunning.

When does Eternals come out?

The third entry in Marvel’s Phase 4 slate, Eternals, is will release worldwide in theaters on the 5th of November, 2021. The film was originally supposed to come out in November 2020 but got delayed due to the pandemic. Black Widow and Eternals were the only Marvel films supposed to release in 2020, but both got shifted by a year, with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings releasing between the two. A safe bet as theaters are still not open in many countries, and with Black Widow releasing two years after Marvel’s last theatrical release, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Marvel wants to play it safe and gauge the audience’s interest first. Had Eternals been released earlier, there are chances it may have bombed. Featuring an all-new cast playing characters most people aren’t familiar with, Eternals was a big gamble on Marvel’s part. It may have made sense in a pre-social distancing era world with Marvel riding high on the success of Endgame, but as we know, a lot has changed since then. Hopefully, Black Widow and Shang-Chi help the world’s biggest film franchise regain its momentum. Fast and Furious 9 and A Quiet Place reviving the summer box office is another good sign for the film. Nevertheless, there are no plans beyond July for Disney-produced movies to release simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+. Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt starrer Jungle Cruise will be the last to do so. Do make sure to head out to your nearby theaters in November for a purely cinematic experience with Eternals.

Who else was involved in the production of Eternals?

Newcomers Ryan and Matthew K. Firpo penned the screenplay in 2018, focusing on Ikaris and Sersi’s love story. While filming, Zhao made significant contributions to the script leading to Firpos getting a story credit and Zhao getting the screenplay credit alongside Patrick Burleigh. In the cinematography department is Ben Davis, longtime Marvel DP who has previously shot Doctor Strange, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain Marvel. Ramin Djawadi (Game of Thrones, Iron Man) will provide the background score. Best known for scoring Game of Thrones, Djawadi is a very talented composer who has composed music for famous movies and TV shows like Westworld, Pacific Rim, and Iron Man. With him as the music director, fans can expect an epic score for Eternals. Dylan Tichenor (Zero Dark Thirty) and Craig Wood (Guardians of the Galaxy) serve as the editors. She has commended the editors, calling them, “incredible” and described the whole process as a learning experience.

What’s next after Eternals?

Chlo&#233 Zhao is on her way to becoming a household name after winning an academy award and directing a Marvel film. She already has a lot on her plate for the coming years with the Bass Reeves biopic and Universal’s Dracula movie. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted Marvel’s original schedule, and at least 4,5 movies and multiple Disney+ shows will release per year from now on. Furthermore, with several projects under development, a direct sequel to Eternals will have to wait till at least 2024. With Fox’s properties also being integrated into the MCU, there is a chance that the Eternals may join forces with other characters. Black knight became the leader of the Avengers at one point, and Sersi too has collaborated with other Marvel characters. Harington being a well-known star could appear alongside fan-favorite MCU characters. Fresh from his decade-long stint with Game of Thrones, Marvel would be smart to cash in on the talented actor.