Finally, years after the movie was confirmed at Comic-Con in 2019, Marvel has released a trailer for Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao’s Eternals and granted an MCU-hungry world its first glimpses of Ikaris, Sersi, and Ajak—three characters who may someday be fan-favorites, but at this point even the most dedicated Marvel fans might struggle to tell you literally anything about them. Marvel, in its post Avengers: Endgame confidence, has put itself in a position that it hasn’t been in since before the release of the first Guardians Of The Galaxy, when the studio (high on the success of The Avengers) decided to convince the general public to care about a movie involving a tree and a raccoon who are friends with a bad Han Solo rip-off. Now we’ve got nearly a dozen new superheroes, none of which are household names, and Marvel has released a trailer of them falling in love, palling around, and quietly observing humanity for a millennia.
So, for anyone who needs a little help dipping their toe into Marvel’s next big thing, we’ve decided to take a deeper look and try to figure out what the heck is going on in this Eternals trailer.
The trailer opens with what we assume are ancient humans encountering The Eternals for the first time. In the comics, both humans and Eternals were created by The Celestials (essentially space-gods, with Star-Lord’s dad claiming to be one in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2) just because that’s the kind of thing you do when you’re a space-god. Humans are meant to live their lives on Earth and do cute little things with their limited lifespans, while Eternals look down on them from above and use their various superpowers to… do nothing, because they’re not supposed to interfere. (But they do, as teased by the fact that a lot of Eternals have similar names to famous mythological figures.) For a more detailed introduction on all of this, we wrote an introductory primer to Eternals’ complicated lore back in 2019.
The next thing we see is a shot of the Eternal Ikaris (Richard Madden) looking down on the humans as Sersi (Gemma Chan) mentions how beautiful “it” is, followed by an extended montage of surprisingly famous people doing largely inexplicable things in sci-fi superhero outfits. Rather than breaking down what’s going on here (because we don’t know), let’s take a look at the cast:
So what are all these immortal-ish super-people up to? With a cast this big, we would wager that one of them—we don’t know who, wink—will turn out to be the big villain, manipulating events to try and force the Eternals to assert their dominance over mankind. Otherwise, it seems likely that the movie will involve the Eternals trying to suppress their Eternal-ness and living among humans, either by choice or by some nefarious scheme (both have happened in the comics, for the record).
We would also like to call your attention to what appears to be a romantic subplot between Ikaris and Sersi, if only because Eternals having kids is an occasionally dangerous thing in the comics. Part of creator Jack Kirby’s original mythology is that Eternals are either born as perfect super-people (Eternals) or grotesque mutant people (Deviants) who are cast out of society. One of these Deviant children, a distant relative of the Earth-based Eternals who was born on Saturn’s moon Titan, grows up to be Thanos.
There are no hints of adorable Baby Thanos showing up in this Eternals trailer, but somebody having a purple baby and saying “Let’s name him… Thanos!” would be perfect for a stinger after the credits (not to mention a merchandising gold mine). We don’t know if that will happen and we don’t know what it would mean for the future of the MCU if it does, but we might be seeing Thanos’ parents fall in love here. If Marvel is concerned that simply putting “Marvel Studios” on the label isn’t enough to get MCU fans to care about Eternals, sneaking some surprise bonus Thanos backstory in there would certainly be one way to do it.