For the MCU, The Eternals simplifies the complicated lore of the original Marvel Comics, including changing the appearance and gender of several characters.
Eternals added a slew of new characters and ideas to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, building on the intricate mythology created by famed comic book writer and artist Jack Kirby. With the debut issue of the Eternals comic in 1976, Kirby created a complete mythos, yet there are significant variations between the source material and the new film.
Some of these improvements include simplifying the mythos, which was formerly as complicated as Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel Dune. Other modifications include the appearance, gender, and abilities of the various characters, updating the comic for a current readership while preserving the distinctive aspect that made it so fascinating in the first place.
In the comics, the Eternals have a convoluted origin story that dates back millions of years. It’s been simplified a little in the film. In the comics, the Celestials, among the most powerful cosmic creatures in the Marvel Universe, experiment on early humanity to produce the Eternals. In the film, the Eternals have no genetic resemblance to humans. They are synthetic creations constructed in the ancient past by the Celestials and sent to endless worlds to protect the evolution of sentient life.
The Celestials’ Role
The origins and purposes of the Celestials are just as complicated in the comics, and they are also the topic of another significant shift in the film. In the comics, the Celestials roam from world to world, experimenting haphazardly with species evolution (upsetting the famously hands-off character of The Watcher in the comics).
They generate Eternal (and Deviant) versions from existing species and then track their progress. They eventually return to these planets to assess them. The Celestials’ objective in the film is to make additional Celestials by absorbing the energy of sentient life and destroying them in the process.
The Eternals are among the most powerful superheroes in both the books and the MCU. In the comics, they all have the same abilities. These include traditional superhero powers like superhuman strength, stamina, and speed, as well as more astonishing ones like telepathy and matter manipulation. The Eternals are each given a unique power in the film. Sersi gains transmutation, Makkari gains super speed, and Ikaris gains flight and energy beams.
The Deviants also go through some alterations for the MCU. In the comics, the classic enemies of the Eternals are very similar to them. In the mythology devised by Jack Kirby, they are an evolutionary offshoot of humans that are monstrous but yet possess super intelligence and superpowers.
In the film, the Deviants have no genetic relationship to humanity or the Eternals. They are shown as considerably more animalistic and devoid of intelligence or agency until they begin draining the abilities of the Eternals.
The Eternals are reported to hail from a distant planet called Olympia in the film’s opening crawl. This isn’t the situation in the comics. The Celestials created the Eternals millions of years ago on Earth. They did, however, build a magnificent metropolis called Olympia in the ancient past.
In the comics, Olympia’s actual location has changed. It has been discovered in ancient Greece, Antarctica, and the Negative Zone. Olympia was founded following the collapse of Titanos, the original Eternal civilization on Earth.
In the movie, the Eternals arrive on Earth in a giant triangular ship known as the Domo. There is no such spacecraft in the comics, even though the Eternals have several incredible vehicles and superior technology (many of which were constructed by the engineer Phastos). Domo, on the other hand, is a character.
Domo initially appeared in The Eternals #5 in 1976 as Zuras’s attendant, the original leader of the Eternals. Domo floated around on a futuristic chair that featured many of Jack Kirby’s classic design characteristics.
Some characters, such as Domo, were omitted from the film. Others had their lives altered. Ajak is a prime illustration of this. In the film, Ajak, played by Selma Hayek, is the leader of the gang on Earth. In the comics, that’s initially a character named Zuras.
In the comics, Ajak is not a leader, but rather a member of the Polar Eternals, a branch of the species on Earth. Ajak can heal in the film, but the character in Marvel Comics boasts all of their kind’s immense powers, including flight, telepathy, and illusion casting.
Makkari is one of the MCU’s fastest superheroes, appearing in the film to be as fast as some of the most powerful incarnations of The Flash. Makkari has speed in the comic book, but he also has all of the other Eternals’ abilities. The MCU simplifies this, but Makkari gains great physical strength through their speed.
Makkari is also a man in the comics, and he wears a peculiar helmet that did not make it into the film. Lauren Ridloff plays the character in the film, and she is also the first deaf superhero in the MCU.
Ikaris undergoes some of the most dramatic transformations in the film. The comic book character is nominally the team’s captain, but in the MCU, he is the lieutenant behind Ajak and, subsequently, Sersi. His abilities are also reduced to merely flight and the capacity to fire laser beams from his eyes.
Ikaris’ motivations have shifted the most. In the comics, he is one of the bravest Eternals, fighting for humanity. That’s in stark contrast to the film, in which he betrays his companions in order to complete the Celestials’ purpose and destroy the Earth.
Kingo is another character who has evolved significantly from the comics. In Marvel Comics, Kingo seems to be Japanese and grows into a famous samurai and swordsman. The MCU introduces Kingo, played by Kumail Nanjiani, as a man of Indian heritage who shoots energy beams from his fingers.
One thing unites the two incarnations of the character. Both are actors. The comic book Kingo eventually becomes a movie star in Japan, while Kingo becomes a famous star, director, and producer in Bollywood films for over a century.