Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige had a specific direction in mind for “Eternals,” the newest Marvel film dropping in theaters this weekend. Feige wanted to carve out a new special place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically for the Eternals heroes.
“We wanted to take a bold new step,” he said at a press conference on Oct. 19.
Feige said the goal was to make the Eternals group look like a cross-section of humanity, a representation of everyone who has existed throughout the world’s history. This included people from all walks of life, all sexual preferences, ethnic groups and more. The Eternals became a representative of all who arrived on Earth.
You can’t have a team of heroes who represents humanity without representing humanity, he said.
You might be thinking — why do the Eternals matter? Or, why didn’t the Eternals help the Avengers take on Thanos? Why haven’t we heard of these godlike superheroes in the last 10 years or more of Marvel content?
We learn those answers in “Eternals.” We learn how our heroes came to Earth and why they stayed out of human affairs. We learn why they didn’t fight off Thanos or battle any of the major enemies throughout the MCU.
It was great to show the Marvel Cinematic Universe audience that they didn’t know everything about the universe and there are so many other heroes, Feige said.
Understanding all of the characters isn’t easy. I’ve seen the film. And even though it’s pretty good, you don’t get a full backstory on all of the heroes. You don’t see the full context of their upbringing or motivations. There’s plenty of context with these characters that we need to explore. So, I’ve put together a deep dive into each of the characters to help you understand them a little more.
Gemma Chan is a humankind-loving Sersi, and is pretty much the main character of the movie. Sersi is always seeking to support humankind, even if she’s poised to wrong humans.
“I think her love for humanity and love for basically everyone in various points within the film is the thing that folks are also going to be so surprised about and very interesting I think, to kind of explore from, you know, a leader of a team,” she said at the press conference.
Richard Madden plays the powerful Ikaris, who can shoot lasers out of his eyes and fly like Superman. Seriously. But Madden said he is a soldier who is driven by love. He’s constantly wrestling duty and love. He wants to fulfill his duty as a hero, but at the same time pay homage to the woman he loves.
Kumail Nanjiani is the cosmic-powered Kingo, who has powers not unlike ones you’d see in the “Doctor Strange” or “Shang-Chi.” Even though that’s the case, Kingo has a lot of ties to Bollywood. In fact, Nanjiani said his dancing scenes as Kingo were the hardest to film. He’s joking, of course.
Lia McHugh plays the young, old-soul Sprite, who looks like a child but is centuries old. McHugh said that Sprite “wants to be a part of this world but can’t,” which drives a lot of her motivation. She wants to be older and a regular human, but her godlike powers stop her from reaching normalcy.
Brian Tyree Henry plays Phastos, an intelligent inventor. He had a massive point about the Eternals — they are all ancestors who predate everything on Earth. He said that was an important fact because he is a Black actor. The role being for a Black man with super importance to humanity meant a lot to him, he said.
“To be a Black man and hear someone say, ‘We want you as you are’ was unlike anything I’ve ever felt,” he said.
Despite being an Eternal, Phastos chose to have a son with his husband instead. He brings heart to everything he does. He wants a normal life even though he has godlike abilities.
Lauren Ridloff plays the super-fast Makkari, who is essentially Flash of the MCU. She said Makkari and Druig have an interesting relationship throughout the film that walks the line of romance. She said director Chloe Zhao wanted them to suggest there was more to them than we see in the film.
Barry Keoghan plays the aloof loner Druig, who is, in many ways, a disgruntled teenager with his own way of thinking about the Eternals. He’s snarky, snippy and sullen, but he’s also a major hero who helps round out the team with a little more flavor.
Don Lee plays the powerful Gilgamesh. Lee said “Eternals” was the biggest film he’s ever been in. And Nanjiani said Gilgamesh is great because he has super strength but he’s also kind at heart. He has a soft spot for others even though he’s massively strong and powerful. He’s one of the lighter heroes in this film who teams up with Thena.
Ajak (Salma Hayek) is the spiritual leader of the Eternals. She said it was a humbling experience to portray Ajak. She said she always wanted to be a superhero and a big character when she was younger but she was never picked for such a role. Now, Hayek plays the main hero.
Kit Harington says Dane Whitman is a normal human who, in the comics, becomes a hero himself. According to Harrington, Whitman is a “nice guy” who represents humanity. He said he hopes Dane comes across as a standup guy in the movie. But don’t forget — Whitman is “separate from” the rest of the cast, but you get an idea of humans through him.
Angelina Jolie plays the fierce warrior Thena, who has plenty of issues to deal with throughout the movie. Jolie said she joined the movie because she was a big fan of the MCU and Chloe Zhao. She enjoyed the idea of an ensemble cast, too.