Following today’s Marvel panel at CCXP, Kevin Feige swung by the studio of our friends at Omelete to talk about the studio’s upcoming slate. Since CCXP got the first look at Eternals footage, the subject of Chloe Zhao’s movie came up. For those who don’t know, Zhao has said that although the lead characters are immortal, the film will explore what it means to be human. Angelina Jolie will star as Thena alongside Gemma Chan as Sersei, Kit Harrington as Dane Whitman, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Lia McHugh as Sprite, and Don Lee as Gilgamesh.
The comics backstory is a bit complicated, but here’s the Wikipedia rundown:
When the Celestials visited Earth five million years ago and performed genetic experiments on early proto-humanity, they created two divergent races: the long-lived Eternals, and the genetically unstable and monstrously grotesque Deviants. These experiments also led to the capacity for super-powered mutations in humans. They also performed this experiment on other planets (such as the Kree and Skrull homeworlds) with similar results.
Despite looking human, Eternals are much more long-lived (but were not originally fully immortal) and that kept them from having much contact with their human cousins. Eternals have a low birth rate; they can interbreed with humans but the result is always a normal human (although Joey Athena, son of Thena and a normal human seems to have become an Eternal with long lived properties and powers). Despite this, the Eternals have in general protected the human race, especially from the Deviants, with whom they’ve always had an enmity. The Eternals also developed advanced technology.
Speaking to Omelete, Feige said that Eternals will take place over 7,000 years as the characters go to different periods in time, which is a smart move. If you have a movie named “Eternals”, you probably don’t want it to span a weekend, but to show why these characters are unique in the MCU.
While we knew that the Celestials would be in Eternals—and in fact, we glimpsed the severed head of a celestial, Knowhere, in Guardians of the Galaxy, Feige says we will see them in Eternals “in their full, true, enormous power.” He also revealed that The Deviants will be introduced in Eternals, but will look very different than their comics counterpart. Here’s a description of the Deviants from Wikipedia:
They are an offshoot of the evolutionary process that created sentient life on Earth instigated by the alien Celestials, and wage war against their counterparts, the Eternals. According to the account of one Deviant in the 2006 mini-series, the Deviants were created as a delicacy to be consumed en masse by Celestials at periodic intervals once they multiplied sufficiently; however, the veracity of this has yet to be proven.
While the Eternals possess godlike power and are generally physically beautiful (by human standards), the Deviants (who sometimes refer to themselves as ‘the changing people’) are for the most part hideous (again, by human standards), with each member of their race possessing some random physical and/or cosmetic mutation that is by Celestial design never repeated within the sub-species. Extremely mutated or deformed Deviants are referred to as “mutates” and some of the monsters of myth and legend have in fact been identified as Deviant mutates. Some of these mutations can provide superhuman abilities, but their powers are usually not as great as those of the Eternals.
However, despite the introduction of Celestials and Deviants, Feige emphasized that Eternals is really about introducing these ten new characters to the MCU.
Eternals opens November 6, 2020.