Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, as you might have expected, has not one but two post-credit sequences teasing Things to Come in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In case you were wondering what they were all about, io9 has you covered.
Even as the credits start rolling on Zhao’s Eternals, the movie never quite manages to fully divorce itself from the fact that it’s a movie about a bunch of people who (from our perspectives) showed up so late to the MCU that you could almost describe them as being apathetic to the world’s plight. It’s debatable how successful Eternals is at establishing its heroes as being key to the MCU’s future. But the movie puts considerable effort into making you appreciate how their past decisions have had led to outsized consequences on a universal scale, at least one of which comes into sharper focus in Eternals’ post-credits scenes. Allow us to explain.
Eternals tells the story of how some of the most powerful beings to have ever walked the Earth’s surface are forced to come out of the shadows after spending thousands of years hiding their existences from humanity. While the movie follows as Ikaris (Richard Madden), Sersi (Gemma Chan), and the rest of the Eternals become heroes again in the modern-day, it also spends a significant amount of time focusing on their pasts for a handful of important reasons. Hard as Marvel’s tried to frame the group’s absence from the MCU up to this point as an intriguing mystery audiences will be compelled to unpack in theaters, the reality is that it’s a narrative challenge of the studio’s own making that Eternals struggles to deal with. The Eternals being nowhere to be found during the Chitauri invasion, Ultron’s assault on Sokovia or Thanos’ attack on Earth is something this film attempts to explain away with a bit of convenient and unsatisfying internal logic with roots in Marvel’s comics.
Like in the comics, the MCU Eternals were generally forbidden by their creators, the Celestials, from becoming directly involved in humanity’s affair—unless the situations involved Deviants, monstrous beings genetically similar to the Eternals. While that reasoning sort of works as an explanation for some of their absence from history, comics fans will understand how it’s still a rather contentious point given how Thanos—arguably one of the most famous members of both Eternal and Deviant bloodlines in Marvel’s comics—has been running around in the MCU for some time. Though Eternals doesn’t at all dig into the messiness of Thanos’ parentage as Marvel comic fans would know it, it does introduce another important member from his family whose arrival may portend a renewed focus on the people of Titan.
Eternals ends up with its titular team being split up following a confrontation with Arishem the Judge, one of many Celestials who’s revealed to be a sort of cosmic gardener overseeing the growth of a developing Celestial gestating within the Earth’s core. Save for Thena (Angelina Jolie), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), and Druig (Barry Keoghan), all of the other Eternals end up either being taken out of commission or captured by Arishem, and at the end of the film, the three left standing set off for space to search for more of their kind.
Yes, two actually. Eternals’ mid-credits scene finds Thena, Makkari, and Druig on a ship already finding it difficult to locate more Eternals, and the trio doesn’t seem hopeful about their prospects until both of the women sense that something is approaching them. That something turns out to be Pip the Troll (voiced by Patton Oswalt), a small, alien creature—with ties to Adam Warlock (also coming to the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) in the comics. Pip immediately informs everyone that he’s merely a herald for the main event, a man who he teleports aboard the Eternal’s ship with a potentially-magical flourish. Though Pip introduces his master as “Starfox” (played by musician/actor Harry Styles), you may recall him better from Marvel’s comics as Eros, Thanos’ brother. In those stories, he’s one of the many Titans who rose up against the purple-skinned madman before his name became synonymous with genocide. In the film, Starfox attempts to diffuse the tension between himself and the Eternals by informing them he knows where “their friends” are. He also reveals that he has a piece of Eternals technology, strongly implying that he is also one of them, which is.... curious, but comics-accurate.
In the comics, Eros first appeared in The Invincible Iron Man #55 in a psychic vision sent to Iron Man from Drax the Destroyer, in an attempt to warn the Avengers about how dangerous the Mad Titan was. The Invincible Iron Man #55 established how, unlike his brother and father, Mentor, who were both pacifists like all other native Titans, Thanos was drawn to violence and destruction, and subsequently exiled from their society for his evil inclinations. Though Thanos, Eros, and Mentor were all natives of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, it’s also explained how they were part of a sect of Eternals who left Earth and their brethren in search of another planet to call home.
In their earliest appearances, Thanos, Eros, and other Titans were all depicted as having purple skin, but as time went on Thanos’ skin tone became unique, other Titans were drawn as typically Caucasian, and it was explained that Thanos’ overall appearance was a result of his Deviant genetics expressing themselves. Eros and Thanos both being Eternals isn’t really all that interesting, beyond the fact that they’re the cousins of the Eternals who made a home on Earth and who usually only see each other during big crossover events. Whereas Thanos’ exact powers—not related to his use of the Infinity Stones—have always been ill-defined, Eros’ on the other hand have been: they’re a rather easy-to-explain set of psionics he uses to manipulate the pleasure centers of people’s brains.
But in addition to being a spacefaring casanova whose powers help him charm people’s pants off, Eros has historically been an (enthusiastic) freedom fighter ready to take up arms at a moment’s notice. In the time after Eros fights alongside countless other aliens to defeat his brother, he finds himself unbound from his duties as one of Titan’s survivors of Thanos’ early assault and sets out on a search for adventure that leads him to Earth, where he tries to become an Avenger.
Because so much of Thanos’ story has already been hashed over in the MCU, a big chunk of his older comics lore seems like it’d be rather hard to smoothly work into a future movie, so it’s not really clear if or when he might pop up next. What feels somewhat possible, though, is that Eros may be coming to the MCU to introduce a certain degree of closure to the larger Infinity Saga and provide a way for characters like She-Hulk (debuting in a TV series on Disney+) to play significant roles in the MCU’s next chapters. After years of being known as a lothario, during Dan Slott’s 2005 She-Hulk run, Starfox/Eros was put on trial for allegedly using his powers to compel a woman to have sex with him against their will. Out of all the lawyers in the galaxy, Mentor chooses Jennifer Walters to represent his son, and while she agrees to take on the case, it isn’t long before she begins to suspect that Eros might be guilty. Aside from his reputation, matters were further complicated by the fact that Jennifer herself had previously had a sexual relationship with the Titan, and she couldn’t be sure whether she was acting of her own volition or if he was subtly manipulating her.
When Eros refuses to be direct with Jennifer and tries to straight-up flee Earth in the midst of his trial, she hulks out and damn near kills him before Mentor teleports his son away to figure out a better way to exact justice—namely, bringing him back to Titan for a trial before The Living Tribunal. It’s during this trial that Thanos is called to testify on his brother’s behalf, but rather than speaking in Eros’ defense, Thanos instead describes to the court why he thinks Eros might be responsible for the monstrous things he’s done. Though it’s eventually revealed to be a lie, Thanos is initially able to convince Eros’ jury that Eros’ powers are the reason he’s madly in love with Death, and killed so many people in order to impress the being.
While the MCU Infinity Saga might be officially over, it’s interesting to consider whether there might still be people out in the universe looking for some kind of official recourse (other than his death) for what Thanos did with the Infinity Stones, and if throwing the book at Starfox might be people’s next best bet. The way Starfox is introduced in Eternals doesn’t make clear either way whether the character’s friend or foe, but considering how few big bads there are in the MCU right now, it feels possible that he’ll be playing villain the next time we see him.
What feels much more certain about the MCU’s future is what will next become of Dane Whitman (Kit Harrington), Sersi’s history professor boyfriend who’s really only in the movie to introduce some romantic tension. We know the character has a particular future ahead of him but his presence was also to tease yet another Marvel project that’s in the pipeline in Eternals’ second post-credits scene. Clear as it is which comics character Dane is inspired by, he doesn’t actually become the Black Knight in Eternals—but you do see him finally taking hold of his legendary sword in the post-credit scene. In the comics, the Black Knight’s Ebony Blade is a magical weapon originally forged by Merlin from the metal of a meteorite; it grants its wielder a variety of enhanced abilities and resistance to enchantments.
Rather than showing us the Ebony Blade itself, however, Eternals instead focuses on Dane looking at it just as an unseen voice—confirmed by director Chloé Zhao today as none other than Mahershala Ali’s Blade—who asks him if he’s really ready to pick the thing up. Unexpected as a vampire stinger in an Eternals film might be, the bloodsucking undead are a notable part of the Ebony Blade’s comics history, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Dane somehow ends up becoming part of Marvel’s upcoming Blade feature, which is rumored to be released in late 2022. Between Eros/Starfox, the Black Knight tease, and Blade himself, Eternals is sure to go down as being one of Marvel’s more... narratively-dense films in terms of setup for the MCU’s future. But whether it’s something that really resonates with audiences still remains to be seen.
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