The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest outing is The Eternals, a film with an Avengers-worthy ensemble, a history and legend we don’t know yet, and the promise of an ever-expanding Phase 4.
Who were the ‘Eternals’ on Earth ?
The film introduces us to the Eternals, supernatural beings who have descended upon Earth with a mission to stop the Deviants, creatures that are devouring humans. It is a team of 10 beings, led by the Prime Eternal Ajak, played by Salma Hayek.
The Eternals are diverse in powers, personalities, and appearances. We are quickly taken into their superhuman abilities, and we understand why they have been chosen to take on the mission to protect Earth.
We have Ikaris, played by Richard Madden, who is arguably the most powerful. With the ability to fly and shoot laser beams out of his eyes, he is always successful at his attempts to kill the Deviants. The only time we see him set aside the warrior is with Sersi, the woman he loves. Sersi is played by Gemma Chan, and she is kind and compassionate, treating the humans with care and joining in their activities and customs. Her power to change the nature of any inanimate object she touches, is powerful both in battle and in helping humans develop.
The clash between personalities is evident, as is seen with Druig, played by Barry Keoghan. With the ability to control and manipulate the minds of others, he is a formidable personality. He is not cheery or easy to get along with, and the other Eternals have to remind him time and again to stay out of human affairs and allow them to do things their way. He is, however, softened by the presence of Makkari, a deaf Eternal played by Lauren Ridloff. Her handicap is no barrier to her abilities, as she zooms at superhuman speed, the likes of which the MCU has lacked.
The most fierce of the warriors, the Goddess of War herself, is Thena, played by Angelina Jolie. Quiet, deadly, and carrying the weight of memories and monsters, Thena does not want to spend time with the humans in peace. She wants to do what she was sent to. Her companion in the years to follow is Gilgamesh, the strongest Eternal with a gruff sense of humor played by Don Lee. He holds Thena together and reminds her of herself, when she falls victim to the mental illness Mahd Wy’ry.
Sprite takes the form of a child played by Lia McHugh, but her ability as an Eternal is to project illusions and take on any form she needs to. Frustrated at being stuck as a child, she nevertheless holds onto the family she has found and her mission. Her sarcasm clashes with the cheerful and easygoing Kingo, who can shoot energy projectiles from his hands. Played by Kumail Nanjiani, Kingo’s personality keeps the environment light even when the others clash. Phastos, the clever Eternal who creates weapons and technology for the humans, also keeps things from escalating or spiraling out of control.
Finally, it is Ajak, with the power to heal herself and others, who leads the team that is really a family. She grounds them, puts out fires, and gives them the sense of solace they need after thousands of years on Earth.
Who was Arishem?
The Eternals are commanded by Arishem, the Celestial who has given them their mission. Ajak is the only Eternal who communicates with Arishem, and the other Eternals completely put their faith in her and the Celestial.
We are not treated to many of Ajak’s conversations with Arishem. Still, we understand that there is a grand plan at hand, a plan that has required these Eternals to be on Earth for thousands of years, even after the Deviants were eliminated. We also see that it is a plan that Ajak doesn’t seem to have iron-clad faith in anymore.
When we meet the Eternals in the present day, we find that the Deviants have returned, Ajak is dead, and for the past 500 years or so, the Eternals have been apart. But now, as the family scrambles to reunite, unsure of what they are facing, Ajak’s means of communicating with Arishem passes to Sersi. And finally, she knows who she is and why she is here.
What was Emergence?
Arishem’s plan was not for them to merely destroy the Deviants, but to help humanity advance and grow in population enough that the Earth has enough energy for the Emergence, an event where a Celestial is born. A Celestial, Tiamut, resides within the Earth, and on emerging, the Earth will be no more. This Celestial will go on to create new planets and lives, thus resulting in a cycle of life and death. The Eternals themselves are not from the planet Olympia like they believe, but created in the World Forge and sent to planets over and over, after which their memories are erased.
On the reveal that their entire existence has been a lie, the Eternals are shaken, both by their mission and their faith in Arishem.
‘Eternals’ Ending Explained
The Eternals are torn apart, as Gilgamesh is killed by a Deviant, and Ikaris reveals that it was him who killed Ajak when she revealed that she no longer wanted to continue on Arishem’s path. He believes that they cannot be biased and make the decision to stop a Celestial as it effectively ends the possibility of billions of other lives.
Kingo agrees with Ikaris but refuses to take part in any fight that hurts the other Eternals. He walks away, but Sprite joins Ikaris. The others are left to figure out a way to stop the Celestial and delay the Emergence. The plan is hasty and confusing, but they are all united by a desire to save humanity. They decide to use Druig’s abilities to put Tiamut to sleep.
The final fight that ensues is harsh and brutal, with the family turning against each other, using their powers to hurt each other at their weakest points. However, despite Ikaris’ staunch beliefs and his ability to hurt the other Eternals, his resolve shatters when it comes to killing Sersi. He is unable to kill the woman he loves, and so, Sersi is able to unite all of them to kill Tiamut.
Unable to reconcile with what has happened and aware that he can no longer remain here, Ikaris flies out of the Earth and its atmosphere and is shown to plunge into the Sun. We do not see him explicitly die, and so there are possibilities of his character returning.
Sersi uses the power she absorbed from Tiamut to turn Sprite into the human she wants to be. Thena, Druig, and Makkari leave in their spacecraft to inform other Eternals about their true nature and what their missions actually are. It leaves Sersi, Phastos, and Kingo as the only Eternals left on Earth.
‘Eternals’ Credit Sequence Explained
In the end, Arishem arrives, scooping them out of the Earth and telling them that he will study whether their choice to save humanity is acceptable. As he disappears into the galaxy with the three Eternals, we see Thena, Druig, and Makkari wondering why they haven’t heard from the other three in weeks in the mid-credits scene.
It is then that we have a surprise entry- Eros, the brother of Thanos, walks in, played in swagger by Harry Styles. He reveals himself to also be an Eternal capable of communicating with Arishem. It is clear that he will be a part of the Eternals’ effort to save the rest of their family.
As Phase 4 of Marvel continues to explore the multiverse, the Eternals are sure to be valuable and formidable players.
Eternals is a 2021 Marvel Comic Book based film directed by Chloé Zhao.