Are Marvel's Eternals the Next Guardians of the Galaxy?
Last year, Marvel Studios put a cap on over 20 movies worth of storytelling with AVENGERS: ENDGAME. While that movie tied up a lot of plot threads, it also left a wide-open field on which Marvel can play for years to come. Now the studio is on the verge of launching two new and very different movies that will begin to explore the post-ENDGAME world. While BLACK WIDOW, starring Scarlett Johansson as the assassin-turned-superhero, takes place years prior to ENDGAME, we know it will also set up new characters we'll see in the future.
Then there's ETERNALS, starring Angelina Jolie, Selma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani and Richard Madden. The movie breaks new ground for Marvel, with a whole set of characters we've never seen before. ETERNALS could be the next GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, an out-of-the-blue phenomenon that wound up an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
An Unknown Property
The chief comparison between GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (above) and ETERNALS is that they are based on relatively unknown properties. While Iron Man might not have been a household name when the Marvel Cinematic Universe began back in 2008, he was enough of a presence elsewhere in the pop culture landscape that audiences generally know who the character was even if they weren’t intimately aware of his background and powers.
When GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY opened in 2014, it was much more obscure. Now it’s strange to think of a time when the whole world didn’t know about Rocket, Groot and Star-Lord. The characters in ETERNALS are the same way now. The comic book was created by Jack Kirby in the 1970s, and stories deal with a family of super-powerful space beings who are called on to protect humanity.
Space Is the Place
At least part of ETERNALS is set in space, in the pocket of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has been referred to as the "Cosmic MCU." It's where grand intergalactic adventures unfold. The space setting distinguished the original GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY from the other more Earthbound chapters of the MCU. After THOR RAGNAROK and the last two AVENGERS entries, however, space has become a much bigger part of the overarching Marvel Studios narrative. ETERNALS is clearly the next step in bridging the terrestrial and outer space segments of the MCU.
The Guardians/Eternals Connections
The characters in ETERNALS are beings known as Celestials. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Knowhere, a location in the first GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (revisited in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR) is the head of a giant Celestial. Kurt Russell’s character, Ego the Living Planet, in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, VOL. 2, is also a Celestial. That’s a direct connection to the Guardians that may well be explored in the new movie.
But wait, there’s more! The official synopsis from Marvel Studios reads: “After an unexpected tragedy following the events of AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019), the Eternals—an immortal alien race created by the Celestials who have secretly lived on Earth for over 7000 years —reunite to protect humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants.” What tragedy befell the Eternals following the events of AVENGERS: ENDGAME? (Wasn’t there enough tragedy in the actual movie?) We wonder if ETERNALS has a narrative connected to the loss and return of Gamora, one of the Guardians. Remember, she was a missing piece at the very end of AVENGERS: ENDGAME. And if ETERNALS follows that record-breaking blockbuster, maybe they’re more closely linked than we imagined.
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All images courtesy of Marvel Studios, unless otherwise specified.