The upcoming culmination of the MCU thus far, Avengers: Endgame, is coming in quick, and while release dates following Spider-Man: Far From Home have yet to be announced, Marvel is quietly setting up Phase 4. After it was reported last week that Angelina Jolie was in talks with the studio to star in The Eternals, another actor is now attached – Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor is in negotiations to star in the adventure project based on the Marvel comic book series about near-immortal beings with superpowers ahead of filming, which will start this year. The Eternals is said to be a romance spanning thousands of years and centering on the titular cosmic beings and their monstrous counterparts, the Deviants. It will be directed by Chloe Zhao.
Neither Angelina Jolie or Kumail Nanjiani’s roles have been disclosed yet, but perhaps they will play Sersi and Ikaris, who have been reported to be a part of the film’s main plot. Ikaris is the leader of the Eternals and Sersi is one who isn’t shy about living among humans.
The 41-year-old comedian has already made quite a splash in Hollywood in the past few years after holding multiple supporting roles in comedy films and breaking out as a lead in the Golden Globe-nominated HBO tech company comedy in 2014. He scored Oscar recognition for his 2017 indie rom-com The Big Sick, which he co-wrote with his wife Emily Gordon, based off their own love story.
Kumail Nanjiani most recently starred in the pilot episode of Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone, titled "The Comedian." He will have a voice role in Men in Black: International and in the upcoming buddy action-comedy Stuber with Guardian of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista this summer. The actor also has a voice role in The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, which stars Robert Downey Jr., and he has another rom-com on the way alongside Issa Rae.
If Kumail Nanjiani ends up striking this deal on The Eternals, this will certainly be his highest-profile role yet, not to mention he'd be working with one of the biggest female action stars there is. Marvel has a knack for taking comedy actors such as Nanjiani for their projects. Take how Chris Pratt was propelled into stardom following his lead role in Guardians of the Galaxy – before then he was primarily known for his role as Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation.
If the actor is the film’s lead, he’d also be the first Pakistani-American actor to star in a Marvel film and in this scale of an action film ever. Marvel has made it clear that going forward, its focus is on diversity. This can be affirmed by the prominence of Black Panther, Captain Marvel’s new key role in the Avengers, the Shang-Chi movie in the works and recent comments of an openly gay character in a Marvel film, which the studio has been reportedly been seeking for The Eternals.
To see what else Marvel Studios has in store for the next upcoming chapter of the MCU, take a look at our guide to What We Know About Phase 4.
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Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.