This year’s San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) was definitely one of the more unique chapters in its history. When the slate for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was revealed, the titles and projects in the work seemed…eclectic to say the least. Freaking Shang-Chi? Blade?! I mean I’m excited to see Disney’s Marvel spreading its creative wings but I had a hard time finding the thing that would connect all these films together. I mean, what’s the big play here?
Since the end of Phase 1, we knew that the endgame (heh get it) of the franchise was Thanos and his war but this just seems almost random. But then something caught my eye, something as outrageous and obscure as DC’s attempt at a New Gods film. I thought to myself, “No freaking way. Marvel is attempting to go full-on cosmic space opera drama with Eternals”. I mean damn, that’s risky seeing that they tried to set up a whole superhuman dynasty series with The Inhumans and failed miserably. That being said, if they manage to pull off Eternals and do it well. This could mean big things for the MCU.
The Age of the Avengers is over and the time of the X-Men has yet to come but the Eternals just might be the necessary medium between these twp times. We should all be very excited and here’s why.
Rights, it’s time for a quick history lesson. Back when apes and primitive man roamed the Earth, a group of intergalactic arbitrators and scientists known as the Celestials visited the planet. God-like beings capable of either advancing whole civilizations or destroying them with a wave of a hand as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy. Now, it should be noted that the Celestials didn’t technically create life in the universe but rather tinkered and experimented with it to see what effects may come from their genetic modifications.
Among the countless races that the Celestials experimented on were the early mammals of Earth. This resulted in three major evolutionary variations in mankind. The first are the Deviants, who are essentially creatures who have no fixed form, shape or set structure.
They represent the ever-changing nature of biological mutation and a Deviant subspecies can be found in most dominant lifeforms on a planet. Meaning that there are Kree Deviants, Skrull Deviants and so on and so on. For most of Marvel’s comic history, the Deviants of Earth have been seen essentially seen as monsters and conquerors, enslaving the non-Deviant population. Then there are the Eternals. The peak of human evolution, the greatest potential of mankind unlocked in a single people.
Much like the Deviant mutation, Eternals can be found in all species in which the Celestials have experimented on. Then, there are regular baseline humans who retained most of their ancestral DNA, safe for the occasional X-gene in mutants like the X-Men. I know, it’s a lot to process and frankly, it can be quite intimidating but the implications of all this are monumental for the MCU. Another form of modification that the Celestials had given to mankind is a rare ability in some to be more receptive to metahuman abilities.
This doesn’t mean that these individuals already have latent mutant powers waiting to be activated like Wolverine or Charles Xavier. Rather it means that their bodies are more resilient and receptive to external mutation. For example, if a Gamma bomb was dropped on any random person, they’d probably be as dead as a freaking doorknob. Bruce Banner, however, was turned into the Hulk. This is basically a way for Marvel to suspend our disbelief with regards to why some people get superpowers when exposed to radioactive material and why others…get cancer. So folks like Steve Rogers and the Fantastic Four all have this resilience in them that makes them more open to mutation and evolution because of the Celestials. Got it? Cool!
The Wars To Come
During SDCC, it was revealed during a panel that the Eternals were apparently created to defend humanity. If this is true, then this would make the Celestials a lot more paternal and caring than their comic book counterparts. I mean those guys mainly just show up to screw around with genetics and leave. The question is: Defend humanity from what? One very plausible threat could be the Deviants of mankind. In the past, the Eternals have actively clashed with the Deviants over the fate of the world, in defense of humanity. In fact, the Eternals were seen as gods among mankind and were worshiped as such. At some point, they were seen as proxies for actual Greek god but I digress! Later on, the Celestials came down and pronounced judgment upon the Deviants, nearly wiping out every single one of them off the face of the Earth.
While I’m sure that an Eternal-Deviant war would be seen in the film, I doubt that the Deviants will be the main antagonists of the story. Disney’s Marvel has been hesitant to create “orc” villains or races who are essentially remorseless, cruel monsters who deserve to be destroyed. You know cause well it makes them sound like they support ethnic cleansing.
Which would go against the progressive motif that the MCU has set up in films like Captain Marvel with the Skrulls being seen in a more sympathetic light. It’s more likely that we’ll see the Eternals go to war with one another. In the comics, there are two colonies of Eternals who broke after a civil war which resulted with one colony settling on the planet of Uranus and the other on the planet of Titan. The very same planet that Thanos came from! I sincerely hope that we get to see more of the Eternals of Titan and a glimpse at how the Mad Titan came to be.
Imagine after Tony Stark’s snap and Thanos’ death, the Eternals once again begin to settle back on the planet of Titan before visiting Earth. Seeing the world in a state of chaos and the planet on the mend, they decide that it’s time for big brother step up and lend a helping hand. They could reveal the full extent of the Eternals involvement throughout Earth’s history and the truth of mankind. We could see how the Celestials sank Atlantis beneath the waves (which could be linked to Black Panther 2), their cooperation with the Asgardians and hell maybe even a war between Kree Empire and the Eternals. There are a million and one ways this film can go. Then of course, we’re all eagerly waiting for a huge debut around the horizon.
Mutants, Man And More
You can’t talk about the Eternals without talking about the Celestials and we can’t talk about the Celestials without discussing their creations. You get the drift, the revelation of mutantkind in the MCU is on its way! It seems for now that the Eternals are most likely the way we’re going to get the X-Men on the big screen. I can totally see Nick Fury or some of the remaining Avengers talking to the Eternals and realizing that there’s more to the world than just the occasional super-soldier or government experiment.
There’s an entire people group who have extraordinary abilities. Frankly, I’m glad that the MCU is going for the Eternals before addressing the X-Men. It would have been far too rushed to simply have mutants pop up because of Stark’s snap as some have speculated. This route would provide an organic entry point for the X-Men and the mutants to enter into the MCU.
It doesn’t just have to stop with human mutants though. We could see a variety of Eternals, Deviants and mutants of all sorts of different alien races. All of them, drawn together by their leader Ikaris to usher the universe into a new age of peace and justice. Perhaps we could even see the Eternals make a cameo into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Personally, I think the villain of the film is going to be The-Many-Angled-Ones but we’ll save that discussion for another time.
Regardless, a multiversal threat will require heroes of great cosmic power and the Eternals would fit the bill. They could also broker peace between Wakanda and Atlantis if they go to war in Black Panther 2. As for Shang Chi and Blade…they could help them I guess. In the comics, Thor and the Asgardians have met with the Eternals in the past, so there is a definite possibility of a connection.
We’ve witnessed an era come and go with the Infinity Saga and now the bar is set. Unlike The Avengers, the Eternals is one hell of a risk for Marvel to bet on but if they do it well, they could position their franchise for a reign that will last for another decade. Only time will tell. We’ve got high hopes for Phase 4 of the MCU. Pray it does not go the way of The Inhumans.