Marvel's Eternals will introduce ten new superheroes into the MCU - and here's how Marvel Studios producer Nate Moore described the heroes and their roles in the film. The brainchild of Jack Kirby, the Eternals were envisioned as an evolutionary offshoot of humanity who had inspired so many of Earth's myths and legends. They're being reinvented for the MCU as ancient aliens who were sent to Earth to protect humanity from the threat of the Deviants.
Eternals features an all-star cast, and it has the potential to rewrite the history of the entire MCU. The Eternals have lived on Earth for 7,000 years. In ancient times they were worshiped as gods, but in the present day they simply watch and observe, wary of revealing their powers. They didn't even interfere when Thanos snapped his fingers and erased half the life in the universe, although Marvel is playing it noticeably coy as to whether they were directly affected by that particular cosmic event. But the return of the Deviants, a force they believed they had defeated long ago, forces the Eternals to step out into the open.
In January 2020, Screen Rant participated in set visits at Pinewood Studios, on the last day of filming. There, we spoke to Marvel Studios producer Nate Moore, who discussed each one of the characters in detail, explaining their powers and giving hints as to their arcs in the movie.
First is Ikaris (Richard Madden), the "de facto leader of the Eternals," noted for the power of flight and the ability to shoot cosmic energy out of his eyes. He and Sersi are very much the central characters of the movie, with their romance serving as its spine.
"We've made 25 movies now at Marvel but this is the first movie that's really built around a romance as the center of the relationship. You know obviously of Tony and Pepper, of Steven andPeggy, those tend to be kind of the side stories. This, if we can do it right, is an epic romance, so it's never going to be The Notebook but that's the goal is for it to be something that is the spine of the movie. What we didn't know when we cast Richard and Gemma is they're actually really good friends and they've known each other for a long time, so that chemistry was instantaneous, which is very helpful when you're trying to cast a romance like this."
Ikaris' powers are very similar to Superman, and Marvel has gone to a great deal of effort to ensure the cosmic energy in play looks different to the Man of Steel's heat vision. Moore praised Madden as just the right man for the part, noting that he brings a certain charm to the role that makes him feel compelling. "If Ikaris is as written in the books kind of boring, you're not going to invest in that romance... and you're probably not going to invest in the movie so much," he observed.
Sersi is probably the best known of the Eternals, the one member of the team who wound up becoming an Avenger in the comics. Played by Gemma Chan, the relationship between Sersi and Ikarus serves as the "spine" of the movie, although there are naturally complications involving Kit Harington's Dane Whitman - her traditional Avengers love interest. "Sersi and Dane have a relationship that is both sweet and sort of complicated in an interesting way," Moore said. "It was an interesting way to build what we think could be a cool not a love triangle because that makes it sounds fraught and crazy but to actually to give Ikaris a run for his money... that sounds terrible," he broke off with a laugh.
In the present, Sersi and Sprite are living in London when a new Deviant emerges; it's been 5,000 years since they last encountered a Deviant, raising a lot of disturbing questions about where they've been all this time and how they've evolved. Sersi possesses the power of matter transmutation, and Moore highlighted a scene that's since been shown in the trailers, saying, "Here's just a quick couple of storyboards or a Deviant chucks a bus at her. And instead of dodging, she turns it into a spray of flower petals. So that fun play with powers is something I think that gets us really excited about these new characters." It took Marvel a long time to cast this role, but they eventually decided Gemma Chan was perfect for Sersi, even though she'd previously appeared in Captain Marvel; after all, there she'd been painted blue, meaning she looks completely different.
According to Moore, Marvel consider Thena to be "the best warrior in the galaxy." She uses her cosmic energy to create weapons - any weapon she can think of on-demand. She can change weapons at a whim, creating daggers that turn into swords and into a staff and back to dual swords. "So she's always equipped with a weapon," Moore noted, "even if you don't see anything visible, which is a lot of fun." But, as formidable as Thena may be, she suffers from a psychological condition that makes her very vulnerable indeed. "She comes down with something called Mahd Wy’ry," Moore explained. "If you guys are fans of comics Mahd Wy’ry is something that can beset an Eternal. It's a version of dementia. Because of the amount of memories they have, they become unstuck in their own mind, so she starts to forget exactly when she is, so through the course of the movie, Gilgamesh becomes her protector. And when we find them in the modern-day, they're living off the grid in a cabin in Australia because she's too dangerous to have around humans, so it's a fun arc for Angelina to play." Because Thena is completely removed from humanity, she struggles to understand the modern world at all.
Angelina Jolie is Thena, and she's no stranger to action films; she threw herself into creating a style of movement and fighting style for Thena that was absolutely unique. "Part of that was developing a weapons system that she could train and become fluent in," Moore said, "because she hadn't done a lot of swordplay and she hadn't done a lot of staff fighting and things like that. So we got to again develop that with her and hopefully create a style that is distinctly, as Angie would say, Thena. And this is Thena, this is a Thena move, this feels like Thena, this doesn't so much feel like but she was a real partner in that process, which was really fun."
Unfortunately, Moore didn't talk much about the character of Gilgamesh, played by Ma Dong-seok, simply confirming that he becomes Thena's protector. Given some shots have shown Thena and Gilgamesh apparently fighting, it's possible looking after such a powerful being as Thena is extremely difficult. "[Gilgamesh] can use his cosmic energy to create an exoskeleton that actually amplifies his strength," Moore explained, and in purely physical terms, Gilgamesh is the strongest of the Eternals – handy for someone tasked with corralling the greatest warrior in the galaxy.
Gender-swapped from the Eternals comics, Salma Hayek's Ajak is described as "the matriarch of the Eternals." According to Moore, she's a healer and spiritual advisor who "also has a direct line of communication to the Celestials... She is the oracle, she is the one they go to for advice and for guidance." She's a leader in a world where we don't get to see too many female leaders, which makes her quite a distinctive figure in the MCU. Moore sounds delighted with Hayek's performance, insisting she "made Ajak... more than what she was on the page."
Played by Brian Tyree Henry, Phastos is "the technological whiz of the Eternals." As Moore explained, he's a technopath. "He can speak to machines, he can combine different technologies to create new technologies that are unexpected, and he's the smartest Eternal. And in some ways, Phastos becomes the mouthpiece for the good of humanity because some of this technology has helped humanity to advance and so he's very invested in humankind doing well." He'll be paired up with Ajak throughout, although it will be interesting to see whether his support for humanity means they wind up in conflict.
Lauren Ridloff plays Makkari, described by Moore as "the fastest woman in the universe who is so fast, in fact, that she breaks the sound barrier every time she uses her power, which actually doesn't affect her because she also happens to be deaf." This is presented simply as a natural part of Makkari's character, with the rest of the Eternals signing to her and vice versa. "Because she is constantly vibrating, she's constantly moving, she herself can sense vibrations," Moore observed. "So she can actually hear by feeling in the same way that the deaf community hears music by feeling the vibrations." Super-speed is, of course, a power that's been seen before on the big screen - including in the MCU as well - so Marvel has switched this up visually by focusing on the cosmic energy associated with Makkari's speed. "You see the cosmic energy particles surrounding her, you see so that bleeding edge of the sonic concussive blast that she can use in battle that make her a bit different than what you've seen before," Moore added.
Marvel's portrayal of Makkari actually sounds to be inspired by some versions of Quicksilver in the comics, where he has been shown frustrated at the pace of the world around him. "She's circumnavigated the globe thousands of times and they become bored and feel somewhat imprisoned by being stuck on Earth for 7,000 years because at some point you've seen it all multiple times and we think it's interesting that in the present day you find her and she found an outlet through books and reading and she becomes this historical librarian of human civilizations."
Makkari is paired up a lot of the time with Barry Keoghan's Druig, who can control the minds of others. As Moore explained:
"When they arrive on Earth, [Druig] is actually very excited about the challenge of helping humanity advance. But as humanity advances and as societies are built, he starts to see that humankind doesn't always treat each other very well. And he sees war, and genocide, and lack of care for the environment and becomes frustrated because if he had his druthers, he'd use his powers to control humanity and only make them do good things, but of course, that's not their mission, so he becomes very disillusioned with humans."
Druig settled in the Amazon region in 1,500AD, and he never left it. Instead, according to Moore he "created a commune that he could keep protected from the outside world using his mind control power in a very localized way."
Another Eternal who has gotten involved with human society, Lia McHugh's Sprite is living in London when she is shocked to see a Deviant emerge. "She's an interesting character, obviously, because she's a 7,000-year-old woman stuck in the body of a 12-year-old," Moore pointed out, a nice riff on the Peter Pan idea. Moore praises McHugh's comic timing, noting she pairs very well against Kingo, with hints the two have something of a feud - largely because Sprite has found herself ostracized as human civilization evolved.
"[Sprite] can cast illusions, so in the past when humanity didn't have things like television, and radio, and internet, she was one of the greatest storytellers on Earth and lauded as a God. But in the present, because she looks like a 12-year-old girl, she's not treated very well. And she and Kingo have a falling out when about 100 years ago, he left her to fend for herself to pursue stardom, so they have a very contentious relationship. It's also a source of comedy."
Kingo's trajectory is essentially the opposite of Sprite's. Played by Kumail Nanjiani, he was a "very demure, quiet hero in the past" but in the present has become a major Bollywood star who considers himself the Tom Cruise of Bollywood. He can create cosmic energy blasts from the tips of his fingers; the energy collects around his forearm and then shoots out. "And he obviously does everything with a little bit of Kingo style," Moore promised, "so he likes to have a little bit of fun." He's supported by Haris Patel, who plays his valet Karun. "Some Eternals have bonded very much with human counterparts," Moore explains, "and he is essentially Kingo's valet and best friend, so he gets to spend part of the adventure with Kingo." Kingo will make his present-day debut in a scene where he's shown doing what he does best - performing in a Bollywood production. Amusingly, Moore refused to comment on whether Kingo is playing a Bollywood version of Ikaris in a show.
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
- The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Jul 28, 2023
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023