Who Are The ‘Eternals?’ — Here’s How They Tie Into The MCU

The first trailer for Marvel’s Eternals is here and while it raises plenty of questions, one thing is certain: this film is going to advance the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a major way. Based on this first look, it feels safe to say this film is offering an experience we haven’t seen before — one packed with centuries of stories, stunning-visuals, and a powerhouse ensemble cast featuring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, and even Angelina Jolie.

However, what you won’t get from the trailer is just how much the upcoming movie is going to build upon what we already do know, and how intimately it connects with one of the MCU’s greatest stories and villains, Thanos. If like us you can’t wait for Eternals and are longing to know a bit more about who they are and how they tie into the Marvel universe, we’ve got you covered — though be warned there are some Avengers: Endgame spoilers ahead.

— According to the comics created by Marvel legend Jack Kirby, the Eternals were created one million years ago, when the Celestials — the effective gods of the Marvel universe — came to Earth and created two prototype races of humans: the nearly immortal Eternals and the monstrous Deviants. Since their birth and throughout the course of mankind, both races have chosen to live in relative isolation due to how complicated assimilation would be, the Eternals in their own settlements, and the Deviants deep within the Earth. However, despite their extraordinary gift and seclusion, the Eternals have always kept a watchful eye on humanity, ready to intervene and protect mankind when absolutely necessary — something we hear referenced in the trailer for the upcoming film.

— That being said, the seemingly ethereal Eternals have had their fair share of internal problems. Long ago, a civil war erupted within the Eternals, with one side led by Kronos and the other by the bloodthirsty Uranos. You see, while some of the Eternals were content with their relatively quiet lives, Uranos and his followers longed for something greater, and longed to conquer and control the other races. Ultimately Kronos won the battle, and Uranos was forced to leave Earth and establish a colony on Uranus, but this wasn’t the end of the Eternals troubles.

Shortly after the war, Kronos began experimenting with cosmic energy. During one of his experiments, something went horribly wrong, and a massive amount of energy was unleashed upon the Eternal’s capital city Titanos, completely demolishing it. In addition, the wave of energy released activated latent genes within the Eternals, granting them the ability to control cosmic energy and other god-like powers. Lastly, the incident completely disintegrated Kronos’ body, forcing the Eternals to choose a new leader from one of his two sons: Zuras and A’lars. It was ultimately decided both men would rule, with Zuras serving as the Prime Eternal and A’lars volunteering to leave Earth and rule on Saturn’s moon, Titan. The Eternals who chose to remain on Earth would come to be referred to as the Olympian Eternals, while the ones on Titan became known as the Titanian Eternals.

— If the name A’lars sounds a bit familiar, it’s for good reason — and you should pat yourself on the back for being incredibly observant. In Avengers: Infinity War, Red Skull refers to Thanos as the son of A’lars upon meeting him, meaning Thanos is, in fact, an Eternal himself. It’s also important to note this makes him related to Thena, the daughter of his uncle Zuras who is portrayed by Angelina Jolie in Eternals.

— Now, you might be wondering if Thanos is an Eternal, why does he look so different? Well, remember the Deviants we mentioned earlier? It turns out, Thanos was born with Deviant Syndrome, an incredibly rare condition that caused mutations in his DNA, drastically altering his appearance and heightening his powers. Interestingly enough, this alluded to within the MCU, as when we see glimpses of the Titans in Infinity War, none of them look quite like Thanos. According to the VFX supervisor Matt Aitkin, this was intentional and would have been further exacerbated if the film had included more footage of Titan and its people, indicating a build-up to Eternals was perhaps always planned.

There’s no telling how far the upcoming movie will go into Thanos’ backstory — following his demise, it might not seem all that pertinent. However, the way the story does connect is undoubtedly interesting, and will have major consequences on how the Eternals are perceived, especially by the Avengers. All in all, it looks like Eternals is offering the most we can hope for from a superhero film: a unique and visually stunning experience that advances the series whilst weaving itself in the characters and stories we know and love. Needless to say, we’re excited to see how it all plays out when the Eternals hits theaters November 5, 2021.