The Eternals first came into being about a million years ago when the First Host of Celestials arrived on Earth to perform genetic experiments on the nascent human race. To test the adaptability of the human gene, the Celestials accelerated the evolution of a handful of subjects and gave them the genetic potential to mentally manipulate limited quantities of cosmic energy, as well as other superhuman traits. Thus the Celestials created the race of Eternals, an evolutionary offshoot of humanity. The Celestials also performed similar experiments on subjects that led to the creation of the Deviants, another offshoot of humanity.
The Celestials altered the structure of the DNA complexes of the first generation of Deviants. The result was an unstable genetic code that radically changed the physical characteristics of Deviants with each generation. Thus a Deviant child will greatly differ in appearance from either of his or her parents. The Celestials experiments also involved implantation of latent genetic material in specimens of humanity's ancestors that would one day permit benevolent mutations in human beings.
Jack Kirby, the King of Comics, created the Eternals. Kirby was the writer and illustrator for their first appearance in the Eternals vol 1 #1 (7/1976). John Verpoorten was the inker for this issue.
Eternals are an extremely long-lived, possibly unaging, god-like but not truly immortal race. They can be killed if their molecules are dispersed over a large enough area. There are few Eternals due to their low birth rate. Though they are two separate species, Eternals and humans are capable of having children together when they mate but when a child is born of any Eternal and Human union the baby will always be human. Eternals have sworn to protect humans from their cousins the Deviants. Eternals also have higher technology than the human race. Eternals faced a civil war over if they should conquer other races. One side was lead by Kronos who said they shouldn't while the other was lead by Uranos who said they should.
Kronos side won and Uranos left Earth and traveled to Uranus where he and the rest built a civilization. Uranos and his group built a spaceship and attempted to return to Earth to start another war but they were attacked by a Kree ship. The survivors among Uranos' group were forced to land on Titan, Saturn's moon, giving rise to an Eternal civilization there. The Kree captured one of the Eternals and did experiments on him. This led the Kree to go to Earth and experiment on humans which led to another offshoot of humanity, the Inhumans. Still powerful but not on the Eternals level.
Kronos started experimenting in cosmic energy until it went wrong and a destructive energy surge went through the Eternals' city, Titanos. The surge destroyed Titanos and bombarded the Eternals in irradiated energy which activated latent genes that gave them their long lifespans, virtual invulnerability and they found that they could manipulate cosmic energy. This gave them god-like abilities. The accident left Kronos' atoms scattered in an immaterial state but his astral form still survives on this plane of reality, quietly observing life in the universe.
After the accident, Kronos' sons, Zuras and A'Lars, initiated the first union of the Uni-Mind, a collective melding of the minds and bodies of the Eternals, to decide upon Kronos' successor as leader. Zuras was chosen as leader and to avoid further conflicts A'Lars left Earth and journeyed into outer space. A'Lars eventually discovered the war-torn remains of the Eternal civilization on Titan along with one survivor, Sui-San. The two fell in love and in time repopulated Titan together as well as producing Thanos and Starfox among their children.
A'Lars would be known as Mentor. Since Sui-San's latent gene was not activated by the cosmic energy of Kronos' lab accident, the Eternals of Titan are not as powerful or as long-lived as the Eternals of Earth. During the rule of Zuras on Earth, he directed the construction of the city of Olympia in a mountainous region in Greece. Two other Eternal cities were founded as well. Polaria in Siberia and Oceana in the Pacific. Olympia lay near the principal nexus between Earth's dimension and that of the Olympian Gods on Mount Olympus.
Zuras and Zeus, leader of the Olympian gods, made a mutual non-interference pact between their two races. The people of ancient Greece and Rome often confused the Olympian Eternals with the Olympian Gods. Over the centuries, many Eternals went on to live lives among ordinary human beings. The Eternals have also continually fought the Deviants' attempts to gain power or to subjugate humanity.
Around the 10th Century, the Council of Godheads of Earth met with the Third Host of Celestials with the Eternal Ajak speaking for the Celestials. A pact of non-interference with humanity was agreed upon by the Celestials, Earth's Godheads, the Eternals and the Deviants until the arrival of the Fourth Host. The Eternals and the Deviants formed a truce until the Celestials' return.
In the late 20th Century, the Fourth Host of Celestials arrived on Earth to pass judgment and the Deviants renewed hostilities against the Eternals. The Deviants attempted to sabotage the arrival of the Fourth Host which was prevented by the Eternals. Two Deviants, Karkas and Ransak the Reject, became allies of the Eternals and left Lemuria to become residents of Olympia.
Fearing that the Celestials would destroy Earth if they judged against its people, Zuras led the Eternals against the Celestials, who retaliated by killing him. The Celestials nevertheless judged in Earth's favor and left Earth. Zuras's daughter, Thena, assumed the position of leader and Zuras is put to rest in Olympia.
Later, the Eternals are taken prisoners when the Deviants invade Olympia. The Eternals are able to escape and defeat their captors with the timely aid of James Rhodes as Iron Man.
During this conflict, Thena was in mental contact with Zuras' spirit before it left this plane of reality, and thus learned that the Eternals were to leave Earth to explore space now that the Celestials had departed. The Eternals argued on this subject for a time and resolved that this matter can only be settled by joining in the Uni-Mind. Months later in New York, some Avengers attended a party hosted by an Eternal called Sersi.
When other Eternals crashed the party to take Sersi to join the Uni-Mind, the Avengers assumed she was being kidnapped and called in the rest of the team to follow them to the Eternals' city of Olympia. The Eternals explained to the Avengers that Sersi was in no danger as well as the relevance of the Uni-Mind. They soon learned that one of the Avengers among them, Starfox, was also an Eternal and invites him to join the melding of the Uni-Mind.
Despite interference from Maelstrom wishing to siphon power from the Uni-Mind for himself, the Eternals survive this conflict with the aid of the Avengers. The Eternals did reach a decision as the Uni-Mind and they all agreed that the Eternals should leave Earth. Virtually all of Earth's Eternals left for space in the form of the Uni-Mind. However, the Eternals' collective consciousness in the Uni-Mind decreed that a small number of Eternals who were particularly involved in Earthly matters remain behind.
Among the Eternals who remained on Earth were Thena, their ruler, Ikaris, Sersi, Makkari, Gilgamesh, Pixie, Sprite, Cybele, Phastos, Khoryphos and Interloper. They also discovered the existence of Eternals on Titan and what happened to A'Lars (Mentor) as a result of Starfox being part of the Uni-Mind. The Eternals have helped Earth's heroes, particularly the Avengers, against several menaces. Sersi and Gilgamesh are also members of the Avengers but not on active status.
In the Neil Gaiman run, the Eternals had their memories erased. Sprite, an Eternal who will forever remain a child, was tired of people treating him like a child. So he erased the Eternals' memories and changed their perception of history. Mike Curry, a Doctor, dreamt of being Makkari and meeting Ikaris, one of the few Eternals who remembered more than the others, found more and more memories surfacing Mark/Makkari dismissed them as symptoms of overwork whilst believing he was losing his mind. Sersi was now a fashionable party planner. Thena was a weapons designer working for Stark Industries and was happily married with a young child. Druig was a politician in Vorozheika. Sprite had become a teeny sensation with tv shows, movies and other assorted merchandise. Zuras was a homeless drunk. Ikaris was kidnapped by a group of Deviants and tortured, seemingly in an attempt to kill him at the behest of a mysterious employer. When a party for various celebrities and dignitaries held to increase awareness of Vorozheika was attacked by armed gunman, several of the Eternals present briefly used their powers, albeit instinctively. This attack was made by rivals of Druig who sought to eliminate him. Makkari was the primary saviour of this incident, his superspeed kicking in and allowing him to remove the hail of bullets and disarming the attackers. Thena was taken by the armed gunman but escaped later on after remembering she was a warrior. She contacted Iron Man who quickly found her location. In the aftermath of the botched attack, Druig found his powers, if not his memories, awoken and set about establishing himself as the new ruler of Vorozheika by particularly brutal and sadistic means. The mysterious employer of the Deviants was revealed to be the Eternal Ajax who was entrusted with the task of monitoring events by Zuras prior to Sprite's reality warping.
Ikaris remembered (after being atomized and regenerating in the Eternal bastion at the North Pole) and gathered the newly awoken Eternals (Sersi, Makkari and others) in a bid to stop a Deviant plot to awaken a sleeping Celestial (Ikaris was the only fully returned Eternal, the others had merely had their memories returned). It transpired that the sleeping Celestial was the same one who created the Deviants all those millennia ago and as a result was punished by the other Celestials. This Celestial's awakening was an event dire enough to worry the Watcher and even remind Galactus what it is like to know fear.
The Eternals gathered and formed a Uni-Mind in the hope they could either talk to or fight the Dreaming Celestial. Instead, it merely shut them off. This Celestial spoke to Makkari (who was created specially by this Celestial and as well as his super-speed has other interesting features hard-wired into his DNA) and told him that it will judge the Earth, but was unclear how long it would take. It also alluded to a mysterious threat called the Horde (the Locusts of the Universe?) which will come to Earth and consume all life. Following this the Celestial reverted to being dormant, becoming something of a tourist attraction in San Francisco. The Eternals and the Avengers reached something of a peaceful resolution. Sprite, still completely human and completely unrepentant, tried to escape on a train but was found by Zuras who broke his neck and left the body.
Shortly after this an army of Deviants marched upon the Eternals' fortress. Their leader challenged Makkari to a duel. Makkari accepted, easily dodging the Deviant general's attacks. When it came to his own, instead Makkari spared the Deviant's life, fulfilling a Deviant prophecy regarding a being called the Skadrach. After this, Zuras, the Chief Eternal, orders Ikaris and Makkari to go out and search for the remaining Eternals. Unfortunately, the various loose ends have yet to be tied up as this series has yet to be followed.
When dead Celestials began raining down from the skies, Iron Man and Doctor Strange sought out the Eternals. The two heroes arrived to find all of the Eternals dead, save for the fatally wounded Ikaris. Before dying, Ikaris revealed that the Eternals had gone mad and destroyed themselves after learning the truth behind their origin. They were not made to protect the human race, but rather cultivate humanity as a "pathogen" against the Horde. With his last words, Ikaris begged Iron Man to stop the Final Host from unleashing the Horde.
Powers and Abilities
The Eternals’ bodily cells contain cosmic energy, and they maintain constant mental control over every molecule of their bodies. Eternals are virtually immortal, and can be restored to life even if the molecules of their bodies are scattered. All Eternals possess the capacity for superhuman strength, telepathy, flight, teleportation, illusion-casting, transmutation of organic and inorganic matter, and the generation of various forms of energy from their bodies, including force, heat, light, and other electromagnetic radiation. Some Eternals have devoted themselves to specializing in a particular facet of their powers, and can increase their proficiency in one area by decreasing their power in another. The Eternal who serves as Prime Eternal can generate blue flame which will merge anyone who passes through it into a Uni-Mind, a powerful psychic entity which embodies the collective power of every individual who created it. A Uni-Mind requires the participation of at least seven Eternals in order to succeed.
The Eternals have complete control over their molecules. This can grant them shapeshifting abilities, healing abilities and many others. They can draw oxygen from water. They can also breath in different environments. They do not show signs of fatigue from physical activity such as running for an unlimited time without getting tired. Extended use of powers can cause fatigue. The Eternals have been shown to come back from getting their molecules dispersed. As long as a Celestial machine is running they cannot die. Their cosmic powers grant them a number of other abilities such as:
- Accelerated Healing
- Due to the experiments that Deviants have done on Eternals they can survive or regenerate from most anything. The Deviants have tried to fry and liquefy the Eternals organs, putting an Eternal in a smelter, a car crusher and an acid bath only for the Eternal to heal from it. They detonated a bomb in front of one and then the Eternal fell off a very high building only to heal in two days. They have tried to blow the Eternal apart from molecule to molecule and atom to atom only for the Eternal to recover.
If the Eternals die they will awake in the reactivation chamber which is underground in Antarctica, in a few days.
- Super Strength
- The strength of an Eternal varies. An Eternal can focus their cosmic energy to increase their strength. Physically the strongest Eternal is The Forgotten One, Gilgamesh, who is capable of hurting Thor.
- Project blasts: Blast of cosmic energy through their eyes or hands.
- Flight: Ranging from minuscule levitation to supersonic travel. The Eternal called Ikaris is known as "the Flyer" and is capable of flying at 850 miles per hour.
- Telepathy: Varying degrees of telepathic abilities.
- Teleportation: They can teleport over great distances. Sersi has been shown to teleport across the United States. However, they find this method of travel unpleasant.
- Transmutation: Change the objects size, shape and molecules.
- Force-Field: The Eternals have a very thin force field that is so close that it is practically in their skin. This force field reduces the strength from physical attacks, heat and pressure.
Several Eternals have taken all their cosmic power and focused it into the development of one power, ability or area while also using their extensive lifespans to master those same powers and abilities.
Sersi: Has channeled and used her cosmic energy to develop the power and mastery of molecular manipulation/transmutation.
Gilgamesh: Has harnessed his cosmic energy to develop vast levels of superhuman strength, stamina and durability; levels higher than any other Eternal.
Ikaris: Has used his cosmic power to enhance his all of his senses and his ability to fly.
Makkari: Channeled his cosmic power to develop super-speed unmatched or surpassed amongst his fellow Eternals.
Interloper: Has focused his power into developing the ability to sense and show the fear of others.
Ajak: Has developed his mental abilities in the area of language and communication.
The Eternals (2021)
At San Diego Comic-Con 2019, it was announced that Marvel Studios would be producing a live-action Eternals movie as part of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Chloe Zhao (who directed the the acclaimed indie drama The Rider) will direct the film, while the cast includes Richard Madden as Ikaris, Gemma Chan as Sersi, Angelina Jolie as Thena, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Ma Dong-seok as Gilgamesh, Barry Keoghan as Druig and Kit Harington as Dane Whitman.
The film was originally slated for a November 2020 release, but was delayed to February 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.