How Marvel’s eternal family fits into the universe of Avengers, based on comics

In 2019, Spider-Man: Far from Home The third stage of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is over, and the fog of Marvel’s next plan is cleared.In addition to the more down-to-earth Shang-Chi And time loop Rocky, November Eternal race Help large franchises take a big step towards the universe.

This is a bold move—even for studios that have previously ventured on assets like Guardians of the Galaxy—for two reasons. First of all, these roles are built around a concept that can rewrite all our understanding of MCUs. The second is that even for long-term comic fans, the eternal clan is the kind of character that raises questions: who are they? As you might expect from the trailer for the movie version, the answer is strange.

Who (or what) is the eternal?

To answer this question, we must go back to 1970, the year Jack Kirby and Marvel Comics parted ways.

Calling Kirby a legendary creator would seriously underestimate it: in his time at Marvel and its predecessor, Timely Comics, he was responsible for co-creating Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and Black Panther, and helped to lay the foundation for the entire series. Marvel Universe. However, Kirby does not feel that his contributions are fully recognized, which is one of the reasons why he switched to competitor DC Comics.

Beginning in 1970, his debut there was a legend of the “Fourth World”. In four series and one graphic novel, Kirby weaves his own sci-fi mythology, centering on the new gods, two warring pantheons.These stories introduce things like Darkside, Mr. Miracle and Justice League The villain Steppenwolf of the DC universe.

When Kirby returned to Marvel in 1976, he brought back all the concerns that defined his Fourth World book. In other words, at first glance, the Eternals are very similar to the new gods—another super powerful alliance of mythological creatures, fighting their dark reflections.

A group of gods gathered together Eternal race.
Jack Kirby/Marvel Comics

The eternal family is the origin of the Marvel universe

with Eternal raceKirby once again mixed mythology and science fiction to create an origin story for the entire Marvel universe, or at least its earth version. Millions of years ago, giant creatures called celestial bodies descended from space and conducted genetic experiments on primitive humans on Earth. In the Marvel universe, this is how humans evolved from our ape ancestors-with the help of the gods.

But Homo sapiens is not the only result of the Celestial Experiment.They also created anomalous creatures, which are deformed creatures without genetic stability—everyone seems to belong to a different species—and Undead, The more widely known name is Eternal Race.

The Eternals #9, Marvel Comics (1977).

From Eternal race #9.
Jack Kirby/Marvel Comics

The Eternal Race are the winners of this genetic lottery: they are all in excellent shape, beautiful hair, and full of cosmic power. This allows them to reshape the world at the molecular level, as well as levitation, telepathy, super strength, and other fairly versatile superpowers.

As the name suggests, Eternals is also immortal. However, this is not a quality they are born with. Like all excellent superheroes, this is actually the result of a scientific experiment error, returning to Titanos, the first hometown of the Eternal Race.

Since then, the eternal race has coexisted with human history, mainly in their secret mountaintop cities, but occasionally dropped and mixed with their genetic cousins. Kirby took the opportunity to confuse real history and legends and combine them with the stories of the eternal race, quoting the flood and the lost continent of Lemuria in the Bible, as well as encounters with Shakespeare and the Inca Empire.

The idea is that the eternal tribe inspired the earliest concept of gods, from the Aztec feathered serpent god to basically the entire Greek and Roman pantheon. The eternal race lives in Olympia, and their names are all twists and turns of classical mythology, turning Mercury into Macali; Zeus into Zulas.Of course, according to the Eternal Race, it is Their The real name of the transaction. The more familiar version is just a case of human pronunciation errors.

From The Eternals #5, Marvel Comics (1976).

Circe called Macari Eternal race #5, Marvel Comics.
Jack Kirby/Marvel Comics

But who is the eternal?

Actual characters Eternal raceIn the four decades since their original idea, it is still a relatively blank slate. Like other comics that cover entire species, such as X-Men or Inhumans, there are many of them. But in fact, you only need to know three names.

Ikaris is the first to introduce Eternal and sits neatly in the superhero prototype led by the familiar straight arrow team. Think of Captain America or Superman—especially the latter, because Ikaris is flying around in blue, red, and yellow costumes, using his eyes to fight villains.

It is worth noting that all Eternal Star Tablets theoretically have the same power-unity is an important part of the concept. To a certain extent, any group of them can form a kind of “unified thought”. Collective consciousness-but since Kirby’s original series, it has pushed to distinguish the way they use these powers. Like the role of the handsome leader archetype, Icaris has the vanilla power set. And, unfortunately, the personalities match.

From the eternal family, Marvel comics.

Ikaris in blue and red, on the right.
Jack Kirby/Marvel Comics

More interesting is Makkari, a Mercury analogue. True to his name, Makkari shared his central spell with Sonic the Hedgehog: He must also go fast. In Kirby’s original series, Macari is an engineer who constantly invents new vehicles, but over time, he becomes more like a traditional lightning racer.

However, the obvious outstanding person is Selsi.She is the Circe in Greek mythology, most famously for turning Odysseus and his crew into pigs in Homer’s epic. Odyssey, And also claimed to have taught Merlin every trick he knew.Think about the magical duel sequence Sword in the Stone, The two wizards kept changing forms-that was Circe.

Today, she is also a party animal. Even after the other eternals retreated to their mountain, Selcy continued to live with humans, simply because they were more interesting. She has a low barrier to boredom, and has long been eager to jump into the bones of Captain America.

Kirby’s series have always kept Circe out of the picture, but since then, of all eternal races, she is the person who has left the most marks in the Marvel universe. She has a lot of her own adventures, including time travel and a boyfriend in another world.In other words: she is the only member of the core Eternal race Served as an actor in The Avengers.

Why is the immortal so obscure?

Despite the participation of legendary creators, Eternals has never really been popular with readers. Kirby’s original series was cancelled after 19 issues and a year later, although some short-lived series and strange collaborations with Thor and the Avengers were seen during this period, they never completely stagnated.

A celestial body in the eternal race, Marvel comics.

A celestial body in Eternal race, With the ship as the scale.
Jack Kirby/Marvel Comics

The main contribution of this comic to the broader Marvel universe may be the gods, these giant humanoid space gods created the eternal race and returned to Earth in Kirby’s series to judge whether the planet is worth saving from destruction.Celestial bodies have become part of the firmament of the universe and recently appeared in a The Avengers The storyline ends with the team turning the hollowed out corpse into their new headquarters.

The same story seems to kill the last remaining eternal. This suggests that the character’s status in the comics shows that most of these seemingly immortals are not even considered worthy of death on the page-when the Avengers arrive, everyone except Icaris is just in the background Corpse.

The problem of the eternal race

When you invent half of the universe, a little repetition may be inevitable. But this means that the eternal race has been trying to find its place in Marvel’s crowded cosmology.

They are not the first time Kirby has mixed science fiction technology with mythological magic. When the Eternal Protoss appeared, there were already a group of Greek gods on Mount Olympia in the Marvel universe, including Zeus, Athena, and Hercules. They are also not the only mysterious superhuman race created by aliens through genetic manipulation: this also describes the Inhumans, as well as their Gorgon, Triton, and Medusa Queens.

These similarities were not overlooked in Marvel. In the years after the Kirby series ended, the editorial tried to improve the situation by bringing the eternal family closer to the existing fictional structure. The creator found a way to connect them to other parts of the Marvel Universe-this may also provide us with clues on how to integrate them into the MCU.

A series of “The Untold Stories of the Marvel Universe” shows that the ancient Cree once captured an eternal one, which inspired them to conduct their own experiments on humans, and finally created the alien race. Other stories explain that some eternals left the earth to go to other planets, such as Arras-the brother of Zulas, the father of the eternal-after his brother was chosen as the king and finally landed on the Titans, he was forced to himself exile. Yes, That Titan.

Alas found another exiled eternal on Titan. They have two children: Eros, also known as Star Fox, and his brother Thanos. Therefore, the crazy Titan Thanos in the Titans is inherently eternal. Infinity war This connection standard was established in the MCU, and Red Skull greeted Thanos as the “Son of Arras”. You may notice that Thanos does not really fit the description of “long-haired and tan humanoids” of most eternal races. This is because his recessive “abnormal” genes make him look like another god created him. Race.

A few years before the movie was released, “The Eternal Family” had already laid the foundation.We have already encountered the first example of this species, albeit a rather unusual example, and in Guardians of the Galaxy Movie: Knowhere, the collector’s base of operations, is actually a severed head of a celestial body floating in space. Marvel proved to The Guardian that relatively unknown characters are actually a blessing because they provide a blank canvas.

However, can the movie “Eternal Race” do what the comics have never done, and find its own position?

If we look for answers in comics, a potential solution may lie in Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. Eternal raceAlthough the 2006 miniseries itself was a bit unbalanced, it fulfilled the promise on the cover of the first issue of “Eternal Race”-“When the gods walk on the earth!”-and redesigned it to truly focus on the myths that exist in the modern world The idea of ​​the character.Because if you hire Neil Gaiman, the author American gods with SandmanTo write your comics, you better look forward to the story of Neil Gaiman. This story reinterpreted the myth in a way that the movie did not follow, but it found a clever way to bring the character into the heroic world of Marvel.

Although Marvel did not fully cooperate with the Eternal Race in comics, this is what Marvel Studios is best at. All you have to do is watch the end of the Eternals movie to understand that somewhere in the MCU provides the future for these strange and obscure characters.