Angelina Jolie as Thena in Marvel's 'Eternals'
The New Eternals Trailer Introduces Marvel’s First LGBTQ+ Family

Plus, we get a glimpse of the strongest Eternal.

by Ani Bundel
Originally Published: 
Marvel Studios

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a singular success story in movie-making history. No franchise in film history has ever created a series of 20+ interconnected movies in which every single one is a box office success. But with every new movie, the MCU faces the possibility of the first failure in this high-wire act. But that doesn't mean the company is playing it safe. In fact, the details about Marvel's upcoming movie Eternals indicate it represents a swing for the fences of such immense proportions, it will be a ~marvel~ to see the company pull it off.

But then again, Marvel turned a franchise with a sweary raccoon and a monologos tree into one of the most popular trilogies in the whole pantheon. Doubters, to the left.

So, what are the Eternals? Well, they're no weirder than the Guardians gang. This ensemble represents some of the most powerful creatures in the Marvel universe. They are timeless, ageless, immortal, and have seen a lot in their 7,000+ years on Earth. The Celestials created them as the original "Defenders of Earth." Perhaps proving their shared strange DNA, the Celestials previously turned up in the GOTG films. (Ego, Starlord's father, is one. Also, the city of Knowhere exists within the severed head of a deceased Celestial.)

Here's what we know about Eternals so far:

Marvel's Eternals Teaser & Trailer

Although Eternals finished filming way back in February 2020, the coronavirus pandemic shutdown delayed its release by a full year. That means Marvel has been biding its time. On May 3, Marvel released an overview of Phase 4, highlighting all the films to come from July 2021 onward. That trailer included several shots from the forthcoming Eternals trailer, giving fans their first look at the ensemble team in action.

But Marvel was saving the good stuff for the full Eternals teaser. Released on May 24, the two-minute clip introduces the entire Eternals’ team, all 10 of them, giving a good look at Sersi, Ikaris, Ajak, Thena, and Kingo. It also let fans get a glimpse of the group chemistry as they banter over dinner about stepping up to help the now-leaderless Avengers.

But the final Eternals trailer, released in August 2021, is the one that gives fans the scope of the film and why the MCU is bringing forth these characters now. Apparently, the blip has unleashed an energy that will destroy the world if the Eternals don’t stop it, driving them to finally emerge after laying low for 7,000 years and refusing to get involved.

Marvel's Eternals Cast

Marvel Studios

If the Eternals are timeless and ageless, that meant casting some serious A-list talent. Once you bring aboard one A-list Oscar winner, suddenly you're casting an entire crew of people who either are at that level or have that kind of talent.

Here's a rundown of the star-studded cast and who they play:

  • Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians) plays Sersi, an empath who can manipulate matter. Kevin Feige confirmed in an interview with Variety she is the film's lead character.
  • Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted) plays Thena, a warrior capable of forming weapons out of cosmic energy.
  • Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) plays Ikaris, the flying, cosmic energy projecting fighter with superhuman strength.
  • Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) plays Kingo, a fame-obsessed narcissist who can create cosmic energy projectiles.
  • Don Lee (Train to Busan) plays Gilgamesh, considered the strongest warrior of Eternals.
  • Salma Hayek (Frida) plays Ajak, a healer and the Eternals' spiritual guide.
  • Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta) plays Phastos, an inventor who secretly guides the human race's technological advancements.
  • Lauren Ridloff (The Walking Dead) plays Makkari, a sonic boom creating super-speeder.
  • Lia McHugh (The Lodge) plays Sprite, the preteen Eternal who creates lifelike visual hallucinations.
  • Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) plays Druig, the group misanthrope who can control minds.

On top of that, Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) plays the human swordsman Dane Whitman.

Marvel’s Eternals Diverse Slate of Superheroes

Since the arrival of Black Panther and Captain Marvel to the MCU, the studio has gone all-in in diversifying what was once an endless sea of white heterosexual male heroes. The Phase 4 projects thus far have starred female superheroes like Wanda Maximoff, Natasha Romanoff, and Yelena Belova, Black superheroes like Sam Wilson and Monica Rambeau, or Shang-Chi, the first leading Asian superhero in MCU history.

The Eternals cast will bring even more to the table. Makkari is the first deaf superhero in the MCU canon and played by deaf actress Ridloff. Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) is the first South Asian superhero to enter the canon, and Ajax (Hayak) is the first superhero played by a Mexican-American actor.

But that’s not all. After finally making Loki’s bisexuality canon in his titular series this past summer, the MCU is also committing to showing diverse families. In the “Protect” teaser released just a month before the film arrives in theaters, Marvel also gave fans a glimpse at the first LGBTQ+ family in the studio’s history, as fans get a glimpse of Phastos’ husband and son.

Marvel's Eternals Plot

Marvel Studios

Eterntals is directed by Oscar winner Chloe Zhao, so you know it's going to be good. Currently though, the Eternals official synopsis doesn't give much away:

After an unexpected tragedy following the events of Avengers: Endgame, the Eternals — an immortal alien race created by the Celestials who have secretly lived on Earth for over 7,000 years — reunite to protect humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants.

So, what are the Deviants? Like the Eternals, they were created by the Celestials, but not purposefully. They were byproducts of the creation process, a mutant offshoot. The Celestials initially let them multiply as food for the Eternals, like sentient cattle.

But the Deviants proved to have superpowers of their own and formed not only society but also religion. (They worship the Dreaming Celestial, which they call "He Who Sleeps in Darkness.") They claim their god gave them dominion over Earth and battled the Eternals for it far in the past. Since losing that war, the Eternals have guarded the planet in peace.

The final trailer adds some context to this synopsis. as Ajak explains, the second snap Tony Starks, the one that returned the human race at the end of Endgame, created an burst of energy so powerful that it has triggered something called “The Emergence.” (One assumes that means the emergence of the Deviants?) Whatever it is, it is going to destroy humanity, unless the Eternals finally break their policy of non-interference in human affairs.

Marvel's Eternals Release Date

Marvel Studios

Initially, Eternals was planned as the second film to arrive as part of Phase 4 and the third title overall, following The Falcon & The Winter Soldier. Its original release date was Nov. 6, 2020. The shutdown pushed it back twice, first to March 2021 and then to November.

It will now be the third big-screen release of Phase 4 and the eighth title overall when accounting for Disney+ TV series releases. It will arrive in theaters on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity Saga (Phases 1-3) is currently streaming on Disney+, minus the Spider-Man and Hulk movies. All of MCU’s Phase 4 is also available to stream.

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