Why The Eternals Was The Perfect Comic For The MCU To Adapt Next

Marvel's The Eternals

Phase Four is bound to be a major turning point for the MCU with Black Widow finally getting her own solo movie, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster set to succeed Mjolnir from Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love and Thunder, and many character favorites making the transition to the small screen on Disney+ exclusive series. However, the movie that is bound to make the biggest splash in the MCU is Eternals.

This group of extremely powerful and ageless vigilantes created by Jack Kirby in 1976 is among one of the lesser known properties in Marvel Comics history, but the big screen treatment of the Eternals has fans excited, almost purely for the casting of such stars as Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, and Kumail Nanjiani. However, the cast is not the only reason fans should be excited.

I am not going to say that putting the Eternals in their own movie is long overdue, but I will say that it is about time they were introduced into the MCU. Why? I have five reasons below.

The Guardians watch footage of a Celestial in Guardians of the Galaxy

The Eternals’ Origin Has Already Been Teased In The MCU

Kevin Feige never ceases to amaze me with his skills in longterm planning of the MCU’s central arc, such as Bucky Barnes’ supposed death before reemerging as Winter Soldier in the Captain America films or the first teaser of Thanos at the end of 2012’s The Avengers, to name a few. One of sneakiest endeavors yet is the Eternals, whose name you might not have heard of in connection to MCU until their film was announced in 2018, but their ties to previous Marvel movies are stronger than you realize.

The Eternals are the result of a manipulation of the evolutionary process on Earth by the godly alien race of Celestials, whom you may recall were mentioned in The Collector’s (Benicio del Toro) crash course in the history of the Infinity Stones in Guardians of the Galaxy and in its second volume when Ego (Kurt Russell) refers to himself as a Celestial when describing his origins to his son, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), and his friends. Furthermore, a space ship that looks quite similar to a vessel belonging to the Celestials can be spotted in a quick shot in Thor: Ragnarok. The references are quite subtle, but could come full circle once Eternals is released.

The Guardians of the Galaxy in Avengers: Infinity War

MCU Has Done Well With Relatively Unknown Superheroes Before

Ask any casual Marvel fan who the Eternals are and they are more than likely bound to draw a blank. However, that should not discourage anyone from seeing the potential a film adaptation would have. In fact, this movie could be a game changer, not just for the MCU, but for the superhero film in general.

To use James Gunn’s 2014 hit space odyssey as another fitting example, there was once a time when literally no one knew (or cared) about a little comic book called Guardians of the Galaxy, but since the interstellar vigilantes made their MCU debut, not only are they some of the most beloved comic book characters around the world, but they would set a unique tone that subsequent films of the same kind would hope to capture, even within the MCU itself. At this moment I have no way of knowing what sort of precedent the Eternals movie will set for cinema, but I would not be surprised if it is cited as a source of comparison in some capacity in coming years.

Neil Gaiman as himself on The Big Bang Theory

The Eternals’ Movie Could Be Based On A Prolific Author’s Comic Book Arc

One of the most celebrated names in comics (or modern literature in general, really) is Neil Gaiman, an English author who has put his own imprint on some well-known properties from both DC and Marvel. One of his most notable interpretations of a classic property is his seven-issue miniseries that is responsible for bringing the Eternals into the modern Marvel comics canon and the story it tells is quite a mind trip.

It follows an ensemble of seemingly ordinary Earthlings who seem to have forgotten, but slowly begin to realize, that they are members of a super-powerful race of immortals who once fought the forces of evil as an alliance known as the Eternals. Is this clever, mid-2000s limited run from acclaimed legend Neil Gaiman the story that director Chloé Zhao and screenwriters Ryan and Matthew Firpo as basing their Eternals movie on? For now, it is merely a rumor, but if true, not only could this be one of the first adaptations of a Gaiman comic book to not get stuck in development hell, it could make for one uniquely dark and deeply thematic film.

The Eternals meet Iron Man

The Eternals Have Plenty Of Opportunity To Set Up Future Storylines

While Marvel Studios has been keeping the story of Eternals heavily under wraps, there is evidence in the main plot of Neil Gaiman’s miniseries, which is illustrated by John Romita Jr., to support the possibility that his story will serve as the man inspiration for the film. It would make the most sense because, not only is the story credited as what brought the characters to the mainstream, it features notable appearances by Marvel characters known for the MCU.

Tony Stark actually turns out to be instrumental in helping key members of the Eternals regain their memory and Janet van Dyne (better known as the original Wasp) also shows up in Neil Gaiman’s limited series, but, of course, to keep up with the MCU’s continuity, they would probably have to switch out the original characters for ones whose roles in the franchise are more current, such as Doctor Strange, for instance. Not to mention, the Eternals have been known to cross paths with the Avengers, so a team-up is certainly to be expected and could very likely be teased in the upcoming movie.

An earlier depiction of Marvel's Eternals

The Eternals Also Boast Opportunity To Bring More Diversity To The MCU

Something that Kevin Feige has been very vocal about in recent years is Marvel Studios’ commitment to establishing a diverse variety of culture, ethnicity, and gender among its characters, which shows in Black Panther, the female-led Captain Marvel and upcoming Black Widow, and the recent reveal that Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) will succeed the shield from Captain America. Eternals is looking be the most diverse cast in an MCU movie yet.

Alongside Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, and 12-year-old Lia McHugh, Eternals also stars Pakistani-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani, Mexican actress Salma Hayek, British-Asian TV star Gemma Chan, deaf Walking Dead actress Lauren Ridloff, Korean action star Dong-seok Ma, Irish up-and-comer Barry Keoghan, and black actor Brian Tyree Henry, whose character, Phastos, is the MCU’s first openly gay superhero. This is undoubtedly a major turning point in the MCU and a rarity for a big budget franchises that fans hoping for diversity in their comic book cinema.

This is shaping up to be an exciting year for the MCU and we are especially excited for what to expect from it after Eternals comes out on November 6, 2020. Be sure to check back for more news and updates on this superhero ensemble piece and other highly anticipated films in the coming year here on CinemaBlend.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.