Marvel Studios are hoping to propel another group of niche characters to international stardom with The Eternals, a major upcoming blockbuster directed by Academy Award winner Chloe Zhao.
Based on characters dreamt up by legendary comic book creator Jack Kirby, the film will introduce us to an immortal alien race who have been living secretly on Earth for thousands of years.
They will step out of the shadows for the first time following the events of Avengers: Endgame, as their monstrous rivals The Deviants pose a threat to the future of the human race.
The first Eternals trailer finally dropped in May, but didn’t give much away about what we can expect from the film, which director Zhao has cryptically described as a “big risk” for Marvel Studios.
“I do think, this is so boring you are going to roll your eyes, but I think Marvel… took a big risk with this one,” she told SiriusXM. “I think they’re going to surprise you. I hope so.”
Zhao elaborated: “We knew we wanted to shoot on location, because by shooting wide angle lenses on locations it’s going to affect how you do visual effects. It’s going to affect how you do the action. There’s a lot that that will feel and look differently.”
If you’re keen to find out more about Marvel’s Eternals, you have come to the right place! Read on for all your essential information and be sure to check out our guide to the Marvel movies order if you’re planning a marathon rewatch.
Eternals release date
Eternals will be released in cinemas on 5th November 2021, a full year since it was originally slated, following two major pandemic-related delays.
Filming on Eternals was completed shortly before COVID-19 became a global health crisis, as confirmed by star Gemma Chan on Twitter in February 2020.
It’s a wrap. pic.twitter.com/za0yVQDCfj— Gemma Chan (@gemma_chan) February 4, 2020
In late April 2021, shortly after her double Oscar win for acclaimed indie flick Nomadland, director Zhao told Variety that she was in the “final stretch” of completing Eternals, meaning the film should be ready well before its November launch.
The only potential hurdle will be what impact COVID-19 is having on the cinema industry this winter, as many venues around the world were forced to close their doors in 2020 due to the spread of the illness.
What is Eternals about?
The Eternals introduces a race of super-powered aliens to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who made their comic book debut in 1976, created by legendary comic book creator Jack Kirby.
Created by the all-powerful Celestials (who have previously been mentioned in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies), the Eternals are ancient beings who have been living in secret on Earth for thousands of years.
Their exact abilities vary, but all are potentially capable of such incredible feats as flight, super-strength and durability, making them among the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe.
The Eternals movie will be set after the events of Avengers: Endgame, when “an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, The Deviants.”
The Deviants are monstrous in appearance and regularly mutate, making them unpredictable enemies and the powerful arch-nemeses of the Eternals.
Marvel are keeping characteristically quiet about exactly what Zhao’s movie has in store for fans, but movie buffs will be reassured that the celebrated filmmaker has indeed penned the script herself.
“I am the writer on The Eternals, the credits just aren’t updated yet,” she told Margaret Gardiner. “I don’t know what it would be like if I didn’t write the film… if I wasn’t a huge part of the writing process. I haven’t experienced that in my career, I’m scared of that if that happens one day.”
Unlike most other Marvel Studios movies, which usually have one major star leading the action, Eternals will feature a large ensemble cast that share similar amounts of screen-time.
In an interview with Variety, producer Kevin Feige said that if you had to name one person as the “lead” of the movie, it would be Humans star Gemma Chan, which is why her casting was so crucial to the project’s success.
“For Sersi, for instance — and if there was a lead in this ensemble, it is Sersi, it is Gemma Chan — we looked at and read all sorts of women for that part,” he explained. “And ended up really believing that Gemma was best for it.”
Chan previously played an entirely different character in the MCU, taking a secondary villain role in 2019’s Captain Marvel as Minn-Erva, and admitted she was surprised to be brought back in such a different capacity.
Sersi is an empathetic member of the Eternals who has an affection for the human race and a millennia-spanning love story with Ikaris, to be played by Bodyguard star Richard Madden.
The character may appear Superman-esque to some viewers, with his all-encompassing powers of strength, flight and shooting laser beams from his eyes, among other abilities.
In exciting news for Game of Thrones fans, Madden’s old co-star and on-screen sibling Kit Harington will also feature in Eternals as superhero Black Knight, real name Dane Whitman.
“It’s brilliant,” Madden told EW. “It’s been about 10 years since we’ve worked together, I think. So we’ve moved on a bit onto different things, so I’m really excited to get back on set.”
Hollywood A-lister Angelina Jolie will join the MCU in The Eternals, taking the role of fierce warrior Thena, while Kumail Nanjiani has caught attention with his physical transformation for the role of master swordsman Kingo Sunen.
The Eternals trailer offers a glimpse of Jolie throwing herself into action sequences, which lines up with previous comments she made about her exhaustive physical training tackling “everything from swords to ballet”.
“She’s a warrior,” Jolie told USA Today. “I’m going to have to work very hard to give the Marvel Cinematic Universe the Thena they deserve.”
Other confirmed castings include:
- Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, the MCU’s first deaf superhero
- Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos
- Salma Hayek as Ajak, leader of the Eternals
- Lia McHugh as Sprite, an ancient Eternal in the body of a child
- Don Lee as Gilgamesh, the Forgotten One
- Barry Keoghan as Druig
Given the niche source material, Marvel seem to be plumping for some well-known names and faces, resulting in a particularly starry group of superheroes.
Eternals gay character explained
The Eternals will feature the MCU’s first ever openly LGBT+ superhero, with news breaking in February 2020 that the film will feature a kiss between two men.
In an interview with NewNowNext, actor Haaz Sleiman confirmed his character would be married to Eternals member Phastos (played by Atlanta star Brian Tyree Henry) and that they would be raising a child.
“It’s a beautiful, very moving kiss. Everyone cried on set. For me, it’s very important to show how loving and beautiful a queer family can be,” he said.
Producer Kevin Feige added during an appearance on Good Morning America: “He’s married, he’s got a family, and [his sexuality] is just part of who he is.”
The MCU’s first openly gay character appeared in Avengers: Endgame, portrayed by co-director Joe Russo in an early support group scene, but some took issue with the fleeting nature of the cameo.
Marvel’s Eternals trailer
In May 2021, Marvel Studios finally dropped the first official trailer for The Eternals, set to timeless classic ‘The End of the World’ by Skeeter Davis.
The film gives our first look at the star-studded cast in their exciting new roles, including Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden and Kumail Nanjiani, before ending on a group shot of the fully assembled team. Check out the teaser below.
Marvel’s Eternals hits cinemas on 5th November 2021. You can watch most of the MCU movies now on Disney+ – sign up now for £7.99 per month or £79.90 for a full year.