We’re slowly starting to learn more about how the Marvel Cinematic Universe will look in the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far from Home, as Marvel Studios moves ahead with its Phase 4 plans — plans that include The Eternals, which is slated to hit theaters February 12, 2021.
Set to be directed by Chloé Zhao (The Rider) from a script penned by Matthew and Ryan Firpo, The Eternals will introduce a new pantheon of powerful heroes and villains to the MCU, and already has some high-profile actors attached, including Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie. The most recent news includes a picture from cast member Kumail Nanjiani, and let’s just say he looks a bit … different. Here’s everything we know about The Eternals.
The release date
The coronavirus pandemic has delayed many big movies, leading to Disney shuffling its release schedule. The Eternals was originally supposed to premiere November 6, 2020, but was bumped to make room for Black Widow, originally slated to release in May. Now, the film will premiere February 12, 2021, the date that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was previously scheduled for. The Eternals will be the second movie in Phase 4 of the MCU and the 25th film overall.
More Marvel romance
In addition to featuring the first openly gay couple in Marvel Cinematic Universe history, Eternals will have even more romantic intrigue. In an interview with Vanity Fair Italy, Gemma Chan confirmed that her character, Sersi, has a romantic history with both Ikaris (Richard Madden) and the Black Knight (Kit Harington).
“Specifically, it is the story of a group of immortal aliens, who arrived on Earth 7,000 years ago, so the plot takes place in a very long period of time,” Chan said. “Sersi is the one that has the most affinity with humans, indeed it is even involved in two love stories, an absolute novelty for Marvel events and one of the reasons that attracted me to this project.”
While not an absolute novelty for Marvel (see: Wanda and Vision), it does seem that Eternals will involve more super-human romances than previous films in the MCU.
Marvel’s first big-screen queer couple
In an interview with Logo, Haaz Sleiman revealed that he’s slated to play the man married to Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) in Eternals, making Phastos the first queer superhero to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Marvel’s first on-screen gay character appeared in television’s Runaways.)
Marvel President Kevin Feige has teased for some time that the MCU would have an openly gay character in an upcoming film. After initial reports that Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) would explore her bisexuality as she does in the comics in 2021’s Thor: Love & Thunder, Feige later clarified that the MCU’s first gay hero would arrive in The Eternals.
Now, thanks to this interview, we know that character will be Phastos, one of the titular Eternals. Sleiman explained that the movie depicts what married life is like for the couple, who have a child together — some more semi-new ground for the MCU, which shocked audiences by revealing Hawkeye’s family in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Ah, superhero training. We’re not sure what kind of regimen is required to achieve a look like this, but we do know we’re probably not going to do it. Oscar nominee Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), who plays Eternals member Kingo in the film, showed off his new shredded body on Instagram as the film moves toward production. It’s obvious he’s taking his role as a new superhero/demigod seriously.
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I never thought I’d be one of those people who would post a thirsty shirtless, but I’ve worked way too hard for way too long so here we are. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked. I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world. I’m glad I look like this, but I also understand why I never did before. It would have been impossible without these resources and time. So big thanks to @grantrobertsfit who started working with me at the beginning of the year and made me understand true physical pain for months and months. Then, once we started shooting, a massive thanks to @davidhigginslondon and his team (@ellispartridge, @thebeardypt, @tomcheesemanfitness) for training me almost every day and making me strong, limber and injury free. I can almost touch my toes now. (And thank you for forcing me to do cheat meals David.) Matthews Street Catering for their delicious and healthy meals. And finally, the biggest thanks goes to @emilyvgordon for putting up with me complaining and talking about only working out and dieting for the last year. I promise I’ll be interesting again some day. #thirstyshirtless (Photo by @markupson.) (edit: I left off one very important person: @lancecallahan who trained me for 6 years and helped me build the foundation I could use to do this. Thank you!)
In conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Nanjiani said he approached playing Kingo by portraying him how Nanjiani didn’t want him to be. “I approached him really as the opposite of the opportunities that I had gotten and the opportunities that a lot of other brown men traditionally get in Hollywood,” He explained. “I feel like we’re this group where we can be the model minority, so the smart nerds, or the exact opposite, terrorists, depending on what the project is. Those are the two ends of the spectrum that we occupy and very little in between. I’ve gotten to play a nerd, so I wanted this guy to be cool. I’ve played weaklings, so I wanted this guy to be strong. Brown men have had to play terrorists, so I wanted this guy to be full of joy. So, really, this character for me was defined by what I didn’t want him to be.”
Nanjiani is joined by a diverse and impressive cast for The Eternals. Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie was the first familiar face to sign on. During Marvel Studios’ panel at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2019, it was revealed that Jolie will play Thena, a powerful Eternal who is known for her knowledge and fighting prowess and is similar to the Greek goddess Athena.
The Eternals won’t be Jolie’s first foray into comic book movies. She previously starred in 2008’s Wanted, an adaptation of the comic of the same name, and has starred in various other action-packed sci-fi and fantasy films over the years, including the Tomb Raider franchise (based on the video games) and 2014’s Maleficent. This will be her first live-action film based on a superhero comic, though.
Richard Madden will play another lead character, Ikaris, who is a central figure in the film’s story and one of the most powerful Eternals. Madden is best-known for playing Robb Stark on HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Along with Jolie, Madden, and Nanjiani, The Eternals will star Train to Busan actor Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Oscar-nominated Frida star Salma Hayek (pictured below) as Ajak (the leader of the Eternals), The Walking Dead actress Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Atlanta actor Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, and Lia McHugh (The Lodge) as Sprite.
The Eternals is based on a world created by comics legend Jack Kirby in 1976. The Eternals are a species of powerful immortal beings created by the Celestials — the massive beings introduced in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie — as part of the latter’s evolutionary experiments on Earth eons ago. The Eternals were locked in a never-ending war with The Deviants, their similarly powerful, but destructive counterparts.
Acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman, along with artist John Romita Jr., penned a popular reboot of The Eternals that was first published in 2006 and brought the characters into the modern era of Marvel Comics. In the story, one of the Eternals — Ikaris — discovers that he had his memory erased at some point and that he and his fellow Eternals and the Deviants have been living on Earth in human form for an unknown period of time, unaware of their powerful abilities and origins. He sets out to “wake up” his fellow Eternals and learn what happened to them.
Updated July 7, 2020, with Kumail Nanjiani’s discussion of playing Kingo.
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