Cover Photo: @marvel/Instagram

Directed by Chloé Zhao, Marvel’s Eternals heralds a new kind of superheroes

Marvel has released the final Eternals trailer, fuelling excitement for its anticipated release in November this year (fingers crossed!). The nearly three-minute long trailer reveals all the members of the Eternals, a cosmic race of immortals created by the aliens known as Celestials. You would have already met one of these Celestials, Ego, the main villain in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. 

It confirms that the Eternals have been living among humans for thousands of years, quietly helping them to evolve. It also reveals that the movie is set five year after Thanos’ snap in Avengers: Infinity War, around the time when Hulk’s snap brought back half the population of the universe.

But it also brought forth a new threat, one that the Eternals can no longer ignore. 

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The reason for them coming out of the shadows this time may the Deviants, a villainous race also created by the Celestials and the Eternals’ arch nemeses.

Since the Eternals have always flown under the pop culture radar, let’s meet the diverse cast and discover more about the characters they play in the upcoming MCU hit. 

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Salma Hayek as Ajak

Hayek, who broke into Hollywood in Robert Rodriguez’s classics Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn, portrays Ajak, the spiritual leader of Eternals. Ajak is male in the comics and the casting of Hayek is only one in a few instances where the roles have swapped gender from the comic books. 

The movie will focus on Ajak’s ability to heal; she’s also the only Eternal to be able to communicate with the Celestials. In the comics, Ajak also possesses super strength, can fly at the speed of sound as well as manipulate the molecular structure of an object.

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Angelina Jolie as Thena

The Hollywood superstar and philanthropist makes her debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in grand fashion: she portrays highly skilled warrior Thena who can create her weapon of choice out of cosmic energy. In the comics, she often wields a staff although the trailer also shows her in battle mode with a shimmering sword. One of the key storylines from the comic books is her forbidden love affair with Kro, a Deviant.

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Richard Madden as Ikaris

Ikaris is the leader of the Eternals, portrayed in the movie by Madden who’s best known for Game of Thrones, Rocketman and Bodyguard. Ikaris has also been in love with fellow Eternal, Sersi, for centuries and their relationship seems to be the central theme of the movie, if the first trailer is anything to go by.

Also in the same trailer, Ikaris volunteers himself as the next leader of the Avengers after Sprite points out that "Captain Rogers and Iron Man are both gone". The rest of his team quashes that notion by laughing in response.

Gemma Chan as Sersi

Sersi appears to be the lead in the movie as she’s the only character to be featured heavily in the trailer. Chan of Crazy Rich Asians fame portrays her but this is not her first MCU appearance. She had already played Minn-Erva, a Kree soldier, in Captain Marvel but Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige felt the British actress had the potential to play a bigger part.

"During the awards circuit for Crazy Rich Asians, he just came up and said, ‘We’d love to have you back. We’d love to make better use of you. We want you to do something else, so let’s find that project'," Chan told The Hollywood Reporter.

Among all the Eternals, Sersi is the one who’s the most comfortable being among humans. She possesses a remarkable ability to manipulate matter—which probably explains how she is able to conjure water on an arid land. In the comics, Sersi was once part of the Avengers.

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Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo

The comedian got seriously ripped for his role as Kingo, an Eternal who’s also a Bollywood star. When he is not dancing (the trailer has a brief Bollywood dance sequence), Kingo is a skilled swordsman. 

Don Lee as Gilgamesh

South Korean actor Don Lee a.k.a. Ma Dong-seok plays Gilgamesh, physically the strongest of all Earth-based Eternals. Before he adopted the name Gilgamesh, he was known as The Forgotten One because no one knows what his real name is. He has also been mistaken for Hercules, and seems to have a special bond with Sprite.

The actor portraying him, Lee, was a former mixed martial arts fighter who shot to international fame in the zombie flick, Train to Busan.

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Lia McHugh as Sprite

Another Eternal that was changed from male to female in the movie, Sprite "can change her physical appearance and apparent age, but will always be mentally a child", and she’s often teased by the Eternals because of this. Sprite possesses transmutation powers, can self-heal and even the ability to alter reality. 

Thirteen-year-old McHugh has mainly appeared in horror films including Totem (2017) and The Lodge (2019) before landing this plum role in Eternals.

Barry Keoghan as Druig

Dunkirk actor Keoghan plays Druig, the cousin of Ikaris who possesses the ability to manipulate minds. He was a KGB agent in the comics but the movie version sees Druig on the opposite side over his disagreement with the Eternals’ involvement with humanity.

Lauren Ridloff as Makkari

The first deaf actress to be cast in an MCU film, Ridloff portrays Makkari, yet another Eternal character that went from male to female in the movie. Makkari has honed her super speed to the point where she can create cyclones by running in circles. In the trailer, she can be seen speed-reading.

If you find Ridloff familiar, you probably have seen her in The Walking Dead. She was also nominated for a Tony for her performance in Children of a Lesser God.

Brian Tyree Henry

The Emmy-nominated Atlanta actor Henry plays Phastos, the brilliant inventor in the group who has helped humanity advanced technologically with his inventions. Phastos is the first gay superhero in an MCU film.

Kit Harington as Black Knight

Even if he’s not an Eternal, we can’t leave out this major Marvel superhero that popped up in the trailer: we got our first glimpse of Harington's scientist Dane Whitman a.k.a. Black Knight, who’s seen together with Sersi. In the comics, Black Knight and Sersi were romantically involved but it’s not certain if the movie will go in the same direction with these characters, and if Whitman will manifest the Black Knight alter ego in the movie.

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Watch the teaser trailer, released in May 2021, below: 

Above The cast of 'Eternals' at D23 Expo in 2019