Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four Re-Watch. Eternals

It’s been a year since I last did a rewatch, ending Phase Three with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Now that the Infinity Saga is over and Thanos has turned to dust, our surviving heroes have moved on… with various degrees of success. Phase Four incorporates both cinematic releases and television programs. For the television programs, I am limiting each article to three episodes each

Title:  Eternals

Director:    Chloé Zhao

Writers:    Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, and Kaz Firpo.

US Release Date: November 5, 2021

Characters created by: Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Jim Starlin, Marv Wolfman, and Gene Colan

Returning characters: none. This is the first MCU film to not feature any previous MCU characters (expect Iron Man, which was the first)

Budget: $200 million

Box office:$402.1 million

Summary:  In 5000 BC, ten superpowered Eternals (Ajak, Sersi, Ikaris, Kingo, Sprite, Phastos, Makkari, Druig, Gilgamesh, and Thena) are sent by the Celestial Arishem to Earth on their starship, the Domo, to exterminate the invasive Deviants. The last Deviants are apparently killed in 1521, when the group’s opinions differ over their continued relationship with humankind. Over the next five hundred years they mostly live apart, waiting for Arishem’s orders.

In the present day, Sersi and Sprite live together in London. After Sersi’s partner Ikaris left her centuries earlier, she is now in a relationship with human Dane Whitman who works at the Natural History Museum. When the trio are attacked by the Deviant Kro, Ikaris arrives and chases the creature away. The three Eternals travel to South Dakota to reunite with their leader, Ajak, only to find her dead. Sersi is posthumously chosen by Ajak as her successor, granting her the ability to communicate with Arishem.

Sersi learns that the mission of the Eternals was actually to prepare Earth for the Emergence. Arishem explains that, for millions of years, he has been planting the seeds of Celestials inside planets where the energy from large populations allows new Celestials to be born. The Deviants were sent to destroy the apex predators of each planet to ensure the development of intelligent life, but when the Deviants evolved and began hunting the planets’ native populations, Arishem created the Eternals to counter them. With the reversal of the Blip, Earth has reached the necessary population for the birth of the Celestial Tiamut, which will result in Earth’s destruction.

Hoping to delay the Emergence, the Eternals reconvene. At Druig’s residence in the Amazon rainforest, they are attacked by the Deviants. They kill them all except for Kro, who kills Gilgamesh before fleeing. Phastos proposes the Uni-Mind, a connection between all the Eternals that would give Druig enough power to put Tiamut to sleep with his mind-control powers. However, Ikaris reveals that Ajak told him of the Emergence centuries before. When Ajak told him she wishes to stop the Emergence, he led her to the Deviants who killed her. Sprite joins Ikaris due to her unrequited love for him while Kingo chooses to leave.

Makkari locates the place of the Emergence, an active volcano in the Indian Ocean, where Ikaris and Sprite attempt to stop them. Druig knocks out Sprite, and Phastos restrains Ikaris. Kro arrives and is killed by Thena. Druig is unable to put Tiamut to sleep and Sersi instead attempts to turn him into marble. Ikaris breaks free of his restraints and goes to kill Sersi, but finds himself unable to due to his love for her.

Both he and Sprite join with the others in the Uni-Mind and Sersi gains enough power to turn Tiamut into marble. Guilt-ridden, Ikaris flies into the Sun. At Sprite’s request, Sersi uses the remaining energy from the Uni-Mind to turn Sprite into a human, ending her permanent childlike state. Thena, Druig, and Makkari depart on the Domo to find Eternals on other planets and warn them of the Emergences while Sersi, Phastos, and Kingo remain on Earth.

Dane professes his love for Sersi and is about to reveal a secret about his family history when she, Phastos, and Kingo are lifted into space by Arishem. Displeased with their treason, Arishem says he will spare humanity if the Eternals’ memories show that humans are worthy of living. Vowing to return for judgment, he takes the trio with him into a singularity. In a mid-credits scene, Thena, Makkari, and Druig meet the Eternal Eros, Thanos’s brother, and his assistant Pip the Troll, who offer their help. In a post-credits scene, Dane opens a case containing the Ebony Blade and an unseen person questions whether he is ready for it.1

Changes from the Comics: In the original comics, the Celestials visited Earth one million years ago and performed genetic experiments on early proto-humans, they created two divergent races: the long-lived Eternals, and the genetically unstable and monstrously grotesque Deviants. These experiments also led to the capacity for super-powered mutations in humans. Later comics retconned this, Celestials saw the human population as a useful pathogen to act as antibodies against aliens called the Horde, the Eternals were created to defend the process, which is similar to the plot of the film.

Several characters have different appearances than they do (or used to) in the comics: Makkari was originally depicted as a fair-skinned man in the comics, while this version is portrayed by a woman of black and Mexican descent. Kingo Sunen has always been Ambiguously Brown in the comics, but his backstory closely associates him with Japan, where he became a master samurai and then (much, much later) a movie star known for acting in Jidaigeki films. This version of the character, portrayed by a Pakistani actor, instead became a Bollywood star. Gilgamesh/The Forgotten One is depicted as a fair-skinned man in the comics, while this version of the character is portrayed by a Korean actor. Sersi was originally depicted as as Caucasian woman in the comics, while this version of the character is portrayed by an actress of Chinese and Hong Kong descent. Ajak was originally depicted as a darker-skinned man closely associated with the Aztecs and Central America, while this version is portrayed by a Mexican actress of Spanish and Lebanese descent.

Easter Eggs: Phastos’s derided name for the mechanism by which the Eternals will join their powers and energies is the “Uni-Mind”. In the comics, this is the term for an entity formed when Eternals combine their consciousnesses. Sersi tries to tell Dane to make amends with his estranged uncle. In the comics, said uncle is Nathan Garrett, a supervillain and Dane’s predecessor as the Black Knight. In the comics the Eternals can not be completely killed as long as “The Machine” is operational.

Sprite’s betrayal over resentment at staying a child pays homage to a similar story line in the Neil Gaiman Eternals comics, wiping out her comrades’ memories and making them human for the same reason. The concept of the Earth being a womb for an unborn Celestial is taken from the “Earth X” comic book series, which takes place in an alternate future time line of the Marvel Universe. The unborn Celestial in the movie is named Tiamut, who is a full-grown character in the comics, and is sometimes known as the Dreaming Celestial.

MCU Connections: The Celestials were first mentioned and briefly seen in Guardians of the Galaxy when the Collector explained the origin of the universe and the Infinity stones. In the sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Ego claimed to be a Celestial, and by extension revealed that Peter Quill was one too. It remains to be seen if Ego was telling the truth, as in the comics he is not actually a Celestial, but one of the Elders of the Universe. The Blip is the event that triggers awakening of the Celestial as the population of the Earth suddenly surges. The Eternals discussed the leadership of the Avengers

My take: If I were to make a list of characters that I never expected to see on screen, Pip the Troll would be on the top. Starfox would be on that list too.

I think the problem with the film rests in the source material. The Eternals are just boring. I challenge any comic reader to describe a memorable story about the Eternals. I am more interested to see what happens with Dane as the Black Knight than anything else

Next: Hawkeye