The first full teaser trailer for Chloé Zhao’s Eternals doesn’t really have much to tell us about why now is the time for Marvel’s mighty immortal race to emerge out of the shadows to bring their eons-spanning fight to the forefront. But it does give us our first solid look at just which of Jack Kirby’s esoteric creations will be in the spotlight — so here’s our trailer breakdown guide to sort your Ikarises from your … Phastoses? Phastosii?
The teaser opens with a small village of humans gazing in awe as a massive, flat wedge of a starship uncloaks: the Eternals making landfall, revealing themselves to the people they’re meant to spend the rest of time defending. Outside of its unique design, we don’t know much about the vessel, other than what some may have seen through leaked images of the film’s tie-in Lego sets — after all, Eternals *was* due out last year! — that it’s ostensibly called the Domo.
That name in and of itself does have a connection to the Marvel Comics, however; Domo was the Eternals’ prime administrator, and the right hand of the prominent leader in Eternal society, Zuras. Domo managed important business from the beings’ capital on Olympia — which was literally accessed through a wormhole above Mount Olympus in Greece.
Who are the Eternals?
Our first glimpse of some of those actual Eternals comes in the form of Sersi (Gemma Chan) and Ikaris (Richard Madden), who look out upon their new neighbours with a sense of awe. It makes sense that they are our first characters, as they are arguably the most important of all the Eternals. Ikaris, whose abilities — granted by the cosmic omnipotent beings known as the Celestials, who created both the Eternals and the Deviants thousands and thousands of years ago when they arrived on Earth — include everything from flight, to low-level telepathy, to matter transmutation and energy projection, is arguably one of the most famous of the obscure immortals. He’s the primary leader of the Eternals as a superhero team when they first emerged in the pages of Kirby’s The Eternals #1 in 1976, and has been a prominent figure in their interactions with the outside world ever since.
Sersi, meanwhile — whose powers are similar to Ikaris’ beyond the standard nigh-on invulnerability and immortality all Eternals have; they’re particularly focused on her abilities to teleport people and transmutate objects to a degree beyond most other Eternals — played a major focal role in the short lived revival of the comic series in 2006, by Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. There, Sersi lived her life as a human, having had her memory of being an Eternal wiped, and returned to her for a new conflict between the Eternals and the Deviants. She’s actually lived a life much more public than most of her kind, having been a prominent Avenger for a period — as well as having some long, complicated relationships with a character we meet much later in the trailer, Dane Whitman (played by Kit Harington).
Our next rapid-fire glimpse of Eternals also introduces us to how Chloé Zhao’s movie will visually portray the beings’ transmutation abilities, golden strands of energy that they each manipulate through different ways to form objects or layers of protection around them. We get brief glimpses here first of Thena (Angelina Jolie), Ajak (Salma Hayek), Phastos (Brian Tyree), and briefly Sprite (Lia McHugh) in the background, who we’ll see more of later. Let’s start off with Thena, described by Marvel as a “ fierce warrior.” The daughter of Zuras, and Prime Eternal after one of his many deaths, Thena was born Azura, but had her name changed to Thena in honour of a peace deal between the Olympian pantheon and the Eternals. Aside from all the standard Eternal powers, Thena’s expertise is in martial combat, having spent her long life learning strategy and techniques from thousands of years of Earth’s warrior cultures.
Ajak — who is male in the comic books — is known as the “Speaker to the Celestials,” the Eternal liaison with their creators when they were first made. Aside from a history of sort of being screwed over in the comics (he’s been murdered a few times, and even turned into a horrifying monster killer), there’s not much more to Ajak outside of their cool relationship with most of the other Eternals.
What is that gold, shimmery stuff?
Phastos, meanwhile, is the Eternal’s prime technologist, a master craftsman who helped forge the Eternal societies’ advanced technology, gear, and weaponry. In spite of his legacy as a master forgesmith and weapons maker — creating himself a mystical hammer to complement his energy manipulation abilities — Phastos himself did not care for Eternal involvement in conflict or with outside species. In the movie, he’ll also become one of Marvel Studio’s first explicitly queer characters (to not be played by a Russo brother, at least), being married to a currently unknown character played by Haaz Sleiman, and sharing the first on-screen gay kiss in the franchise.
After a few more moments of seeing the Eternals live their lives alongside humanity, basically becoming godlike beings to a new civilisation in the process, we do get to see a few more new additions to the team. Briefly glimpsed alongside Ikaris and Thena here are Gilgamesh (centre, played by Don Lee), Makkari (far left, Lauren Ridloff) and Kingo (far right, Kumail Nanjiani). We don’t see much of Gilgamesh elsewhere, so let’s start with him: in the comics, he has a long history as an outcast of Eternal society, declared “the Forgotton One” for his history of going against the Eternals strict non-intervention policies, which get noted in this teaser. The one-time King of Sumer and an ancient warrior-leader who quested across the Western Asia and Europe helping humanity and waging conflict, Gilgamesh eventually returned to his people after discovering his true nature as one of their kind.
Makkari, meanwhile — another character whose gender was changed for the movie — is known for their super-speed, as you can see in the piles of books being rapidly skimmed through here. Like Phastos, Makkari is a keen engineer and prominent crafter, channeling their knowledge into crafting vehicles and other transportation for the Eternals, even if they preferred using their abilities as one of the fastest superhumans on Earth. Ridloff, who is deaf, will be portraying Makkari as Marvel’s first deaf hero.
Before we get to Kingo later in the trailer, we’re introduced to another major figure from the Eternals’ comic history in the form of the young Sprite (the aforementioned Lia McHugh and another gender changed for the film — although the recently-started Eternals comic has likewise resurrected Sprite in a female form). Sprite is a somewhat antagonistic force in the Eternals’ comic history, although not necessarily villainous. They’re more of a trickster figure, akin to Loki, utilising their ability to craft powerful illusions to confound opponents. Forever trapped in their youthful body, Sprite has repeatedly tried to find ways to use their power and that of the Celestials to age into an adult form — including, as detailed in the previously mentioned 2006 series, using the powers of a dreaming Celestial to wipe the minds of almost every Eternal, letting them live as normal humans in society in an attempt to see if it would allow them to grow into an adult body.
Is there a villain?
Next up is Druig (Barry Keoghan), described by Marvel as an “Aloof loner.” In the comics, Druig — Ikaris’ cousin and from the subset of Eternals who were raised in what would become modern Siberia, in the city of Polaria — is a much more explicitly antagonistic character. Known as the Lord of Flames and Nightmares, Druig was obsessed with power and eternally envious of Ikaris for his close relationship with Druig’s father, Valkin. After being killed during an assassination attempt on Ikaris, Druig was eventually resurrected and imprisoned, only to be inadvertently let free to roam the world and use his expertise in telepathy and torture to manipulate his way into ruling his own nation in the form of the former Soviet-annexed republic of Vorozheika.
But interestingly, the Eternals teaser seemingly casts Druig as more of a friendly face, as we see him participating in what seems to be a very important power from the Eternals’ comic history: the forming of a Uni-Mind. In the comics, if multiple Eternals — as few as three, or many more beyond that — linked their minds in a special ritual, they could utilise the Celestial’s more powerful gift bestowed upon their species, the ability to summon a Uni-Mind. A gestalt being of unimaginable power, Uni-Minds are combined essences of pure energy, a hive-mind intelligence that can be used as either an almighty construct of war, or in some cases, a democratic conclave to make decisions affecting Eternal society.
At last then, we get a brief glimpse of Nanjiani in action as Kingo — both in his guise as a Bollywood celebrity in human society, and battling what seems to be a group of possessed civilians. In the comics, Kingo was actually an Eternal from conclaves that were founded in what would become Japan, where he eventually found a home and developed his skills as a samurai and master swordsman, eschewing many of his fellow Eternals’ special abilities. As time passed and humanity grew, Kingo eventually leveraged his skill in his home nation to become a major action movie star, specialising in samurai movies, in between serving a role in Eternal society.
Is Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington an Eternal?
The last major character we’re introduced to isn’t actually an Eternal, but a human — but they do have a long, complicated history in Marvel’s comics. Briefly glimpsed with Sersi and other humans looking up at a stormy sky in the teaser’s climax, we meet Kit Harington’s previously mentioned Dane Whitman. Marvel Studios is staying particularly quiet about Dane’s role in Eternals, but he’s actually a figure from the comics: the fantastical, magical medieval hero known as the Black Knight. Starting out in Marvel’s pre-Marvel history as Atlas comics, the Black Knight was originally a strictly medieval hero with no special abilities, but a magic sword called the Ebony Blade. Years after, the mantle was borrowed by small-time Iron Man villain Nathan Garrett, before Garret’s nephew Dane took the legacy himself in an attempt to redeem his ancestor’s history as a legendary hero.
Dane worked as the Black Knight alongside both the Avengers and the Defenders, but his primary connection to the world of the Eternals is as a major romantic interest of Sersi. Long, complicated story short: Dane and Sersi find themselves targeted by a villain named Proctor, who actually turned out to be an alternate version of Dane from elsewhere in the multiverse. Jealous of his own Sersi spurning him, Proctor had plans to kill every version of her throughout the multiverse (yikes!).
During this time, Ikaris bonded Sersi and Dane’s spirits in an attempt to protect Sersi in an Eternal ritual called the Gann Josin, but after Dane almost cheated on her with fellow Avenger and Inhuman princess Crystal (like we said, long story!), things went a little wrong. There’s much more to their history together, and how much of it makes its way into Eternals — or even Dane’s status as the Black Knight — remains to be seen.
And so, Eternals’ first fleeting teaser doesn’t really have much beyond that. While we’re introduced to our cast of would-be-Avengers replacements, we don’t really get much of a reason as to why now they’re making moves publicly, after eons of secrecy. We’re also not introduced to the threat we know they’re facing, the mysterious Deviants — who have a long and equally tangled history in Marvel’s cosmic comics as aberrations created by the same Celestial tinkering that got us the Eternals in the first place.
But there’s plenty of time to get to know more about Eternals — and its heroes definitely seem like the kind of godlike folks that prefer taking that time to reveal themselves. No doubt we’ll get plenty more from Eternals before it is scheduled to hit Australian theatres on October 28.