We’ve known for a while that the cosmic corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be explored more going forward, and one of the ways this will be accomplished is through The Eternals. Like most of the Phase 4 slate that’s been announced so far, we don’t know much about what the MCU has in store for these characters, but according to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, The Eternals could differentiate itself by the other Marvel movies by unfolding across thousands of years. After noting how Marvel plans on introducing more characters the general public isn’t familiar with, such as the Guardians of the Galaxy and many of the Avengers once were, Feige said:
Eternals are one group, but we like the idea of introducing an ensemble, doing an ensemble movie from the start, as opposed to building up as we did with the first Avengers. More like Guardians, not tonally, but in terms of introducing a new group of people. You were asking about ’60s, and ’70s before. Jack Kirby did an immense, amazing epic with Eternals that spans tens of thousands of years, and that’s also something we haven’t really done, which is why that among many other things post-Endgame, we find appealing.
We’ve seen flashbacks in previous Marvel movies that have been thousands of years before the present day narrative, but the prospect of having The Eternals’ main story stretching over tens of thousands of years is intriguing. This is one of the superhero properties that it’s possible to take such a creative approach with, as the Eternals, while not full-on gods and immortal, are incredibly powerful and have lived for millions of years. To them, a couple thousand years passing probably just feels like a year or two passing for us. In any case, while Feige didn’t confirm that The Eternals will indeed stretch over tens of thousands of years like in the comics, his comment to Collider indicates it’s on the proverbial table.
Assuming that The Eternals does end up stretching across millennia and that it won’t be set in the future, then that means the movie would be looking to the past, long before any of the current Marvel heroes were around. Even Thor, the oldest of the Avengers, is only a little over a thousand years old, but I digress. For those who don’t know about the Eternals, in the comics, when the entities known as The Celestials visited Earth millions of years ago and experimented on porto-humanity, two divergent races were created: the Eternals and the Deviants. Using their incredible powers, the Eternals have protected humanity from the Deviants and other threats, but there are also very few of them due to low birth rates.
Setting The Eternals across thousands of years in the past would definitely help with not needing to connect to any of the other Marvel movies, though it would still be great if there were a few teases/Easter eggs sprinkled in to elements we knows or have hard about. Let’s also not forget that we’ve already met an Eternal in the MCU: Thanos. It remains to be seen if the Mad Titans will die or not during Avengers: Endgame, but either way, The Eternals would be a good way to shed light on his past and how he became the warmonger we know well. That said, I don’t imagine Thanos would be a major player in The Eternals since Kevin Feige and the Marvel braintrust are looking to spotlight more obscure characters.
Directed by Chloe Zhao, The Eternals doesn’t have an assigned release date yet, but filming is expected to begin later this year. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage on its development, and in the meantime, look through our Marvel movies guide to learn what other projects are in development for Phase 4.