Marvel Theories That Would Explain Why We've Never Seen The Eternals

Marvel's Eternals are as powerful as Thor and as old and wise as ... well, Thor. So, why is this the first time we're hearing from them in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? The trailer for Chloe Zhao's "Eternals" gave us one reason as to why this found family of ancient near-Gods has not shown their gorgeous faces: It's against their code, apparently. When Dane Whitman (Kit Harington) asks Sersi (Gemma Chan) why the Eternals didn't stop Thanos, she tells him that the Eternals were "instructed not to interfere in any human conflicts unless Deviants were involved." That's the party line.

But maybe that's not the whole truth, so here are some other theories. After all, it wouldn't be the first time that a Marvel trailer has messed with us. Remember how the "Spider-Man: Far From Home" trailer really tried to convince audiences that Mysterio was from an alternate universe? 

Besides, there also has to be a reason why "Eternals" is happening now. "Guardians of the Galaxy" may have seemed random at the time, but it was laying important groundwork for the "Infinity Saga." Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne's MCU debut came just in time to introduce the Quantum Realm, which powered the time travel in "Avengers Endgame." The larger narrative has to be served. So, what secrets are the Eternals and their conspicuous absence hiding? 

The Eternals don't know they are Eternals

In Neil Gaiman's 2006 run of "The Eternals," we catch up with the immortal beings after they have been living on Earth as humans for a long time, with no knowledge of their identity and power. After Ikaris, the character played by Richard Madden in the film, figures out what's going on, he visits his fellow immortals and wakes them up in time to save the day. Everyone is happy in their new identities, blissfully ignorant of their old lives. It's a very familiar science fiction concept you've seen in other Marvel comics, as well as on television shows like "Lost," "The Magicians," and "Once Upon A Time."

This would be the easiest way for the MCU to bring the Eternals into the fray without fussing too much about why they didn't help out before. What if they simply didn't know they had superpowers? This might be something that the Celestials, the Eternals' bosses, did in order to keep the Eternals from interfering. 

The only red flag is that this twist might be too similar to "Captain Marvel." Remember how, for most of that film, Carol had a kind of amnesia? Given that we've seen an awakening like this before, it could be tedious to watch 10 other characters go through that exact same thing.

They have been stripped of their powers

The MCU's Eternals could also tweak the Gaiman comic and have the Eternals living normal human lives on Earth because they don't have access to their powers. They could be stuck on Earth with all of their memories and their knowledge, but with no way to do anything about it until Deviants arrive (Deviants, by the way, are the wacky CGI dogs we saw in the trailer; they, like the Eternals, were created by the all-powerful Celestials).

There are rmany reasons why this could have happened. Maybe it's some kind of punishment for having broken the rules and interfered in a conflict many years ago. It could have something to do with a specific character, or a battle that we already know about. It would be cool to learn that the Eternals broke their vow, and that the fallout is why we have not seen them. The Eternals are so powerful that there have to be some kind of stakes and consequences, right?

One of their own betrayed them

There will certainly be some family conflict in "Eternals," and it wouldn't be too surprising if it had to do with what they've been up to during all these alien invasions and genocides. In either of the above scenarios — the Eternals losing their memories or losing access to their superpowers — it's possible that one of the Eternals betrayed the group and erased their memories, ratted them out to the Celestials, or otherwise compromised the Eternals' ability to protect humanity. We don't really know the hierarchy. Maybe there are checks and balances in place to keep the Eternals from trying to conquer Earth, and those checks became unbalanced. 

Who could it be? In the Gaiman comic, the culprit is Sprite, a trickster who is mad that he's forced to inhabit the body of a child despite being several thousand years old. If the movie adapts that storyline, look out for him, played by Lia McHugh in Zhao's film. There's also Druig, who seems pretty shifty from what we've seen so far, but maybe that's just because he's played by Barry Keoghan, who often plays shady characters. Still, the Eternals can't be one happy family, or else they would all be together at the beginning of the film.

This movie takes place somewhere else in the multiverse

Since the trailer mentions the Blip, this is a slight possibility, but one that is still worth considering. We know that the multiverse is a big part of Phase 4 as Wanda Maximoff searches for her children, Sylvie Laufeydottir looks for revenge, and Peter Parker tries to restore his secret identity. So, what if "Eternals" is taking place on another Earth, one that's slightly different from the MCU's? Per this theory, we haven't seen the Eternals in the movies yet because they don't exist in the main timeline. Maybe they'll cross over to that world at the beginning or end of the film. Or maybe worlds will, quite literally, collide.

At the end of "Loki," our hero ended up in an alternate version of the TVA where only a few (but a key few) things were different. "What If..." introduces even more alternate universes where things are similar, but not exactly the same. Presumably our Steve Rogers lived a whole life with a variant Peggy Carter in an alternate reality, although that has yet to be officially confirmed. If the Marvel Cinematic Universe is really committing to the multiverse as a concept, bringing in a whole race of heroes from another world could be a fun continuation of that thread.

Speaking of the multiverse...

Kang prevented them from tampering with the Sacred Timeline

If the Time Variance Authority, the extraordinarily powerful organization run by the Kang variant known as "He Who Remains," can keep Infinity Stones in a junk drawer, who's to say he can't prevent the Eternals from interfering in human conflicts? Maybe the Eternals have tried to interfere many times, and there are a bunch of variants running around the TVA wholook like Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden, and Salma Hayek. 

Between the TVA's Sacred Timeline and Doctor Strange's assertion in "Avengers: Infinity War" that there was only one potential future in which the Avengers beat Thanos, pretty much everything in the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems predetermined. It wouldn't be too surprising if the "reason" for the Eternals not appearing before now is that some higher power decided that it wasn't supposed to happen. The problem, of course, is that the Celestials, who created the Eternals, are a higher power. It would take someone pretty powerful to boss them around, though Kang would at least try. 

If Kang the Conqueror is the next Thanos, the Big Bad that multiple phases of the MCU are going are up against, it wouldn't be surprising if he figured into the equation somehow. 

It will have something to do with mutants

This is not a theory about why we haven't seen the Eternals so much as one that could explain why we're seeing them now. Wishful thinkers everywhere are desperate for some proof that mutants are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whether it's Evan Peters showing up on "WandaVision," rumors about cameos in "Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness," or casting announcements for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," fans are quick to theorize that the X-Men are on the horizon. "Eternals" is just another way in, especially after the official trailer. 

In the trailer Ajak (Salma Hayek) tells Ikaris (Richard Madden) "the sudden return of the population [with Hulk's snap, ending the Blip] provided the necessary energy for the Emergence to begin." Could the thing "emerging" be mutants? It's possible! The Celestials, in Marvel comics, not only created the Eternals and their enemies the Deviants, but also dropped the X-gene into the pool after experimenting on humans. They're responsible for mutant DNA!

If you're not so familiar with the Eternals but love the X-Men, you may have already noticed that some of their superpowers look awfully familiar. Ikaris is a lot like Cyclops. They have a speedster and a telepath. The clues could be right in front of us. 

They actually have been interfering, you're welcome

There's this parable that you may have heard about a drowning man who refuses the help of passers-by on a raft, a boat, and a helicopter because he is waiting for God to save him. When he ultimately drowns, he asks God why he was not saved. God says "I sent a man on a raft, and a boat, and a helicopter. What more did you want?" 

Maybe that's kind of how the Eternals have been operating. They're the raft, boat, and helicopter. They're not swooping in to save the day, but showing up to provide help where needed more subtly.

In the comics, the Eternals have influenced history in many small ways. They can't help themselves. For example, Makkari (Lauren Ridloff in the film) is responsible for teaching the ancient Egyptians how to read, and may or may not have inspired the Greek god Hermes. Ikaris was sculpted by Leonardo da Vinci. Sersi was not only the Circe from the Odyssey but also founded the Illuminati. In the comics, the Eternals get around. For all we know, they were helping behind the scenes in the MCU, too, and kept things from getting even worse. Various Avengers paraphernalia does show up in the trailer, which brings us to...

It has something to do with Captain America...

You may have noticed that the one Avenger referenced most often in the "Eternals" footage we've seen so far is Steve Rogers. You can see a version of his shield in the background of several shots. He's also name-dropped in the teaser, which felt out of place but could have a larger meaning. That has led to the theory that the Eternals helped bring on the Age of Heroes by teaching ancient Wakanda how to mine vibranium, or by helping to develop the formula for the super soldier serum.

The theory is that the Eternals did this so that they wouldn't need to interfere directly. They gave Earth the mighty heroes they themselves could not be. According to the theory, now that Cap and Iron Man are gone, the Eternals are returning to help again (clearly they did not watch "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier"; The MCU has a Cap, and he's doing great).

Centering that narrative on Captain America doesn't explain everything, however. While the super-soldier serum connects many Marvel heroes, including the Winter Soldier and the Hulk, there are a lot of Marvel-y threads left dangling. Are we going to learn that the Eternals also had a hand creating Pym particles, Yondu's kidnapping of Ego's son, Obadiah Stane arranging for Tony Stark to be kidnapped, Carol Danvers' crash, the Black Widow, the Ten Rings Organizations, and the rest?

The Celestials are actually villains

Going back to the trailer, did you notice how Dane Whitman kind of growls at Sersi after she tells him that the Eternals were instructed not to interfere? "By who?" he asks, in that angry voice we're so used to hearing from Jon Snow. The answer, as those who have read the comics can tell you, is the Celestials. Whitman's tone makes it seem like the Celestials are not exactly the good guys in this scenario. What if, like the TVA's tyrannical hold over the Sacred Timeline, the Celestials are another all-powerful force who create the illusion of free will while actually controlling everything? 

Or, to put it another way: What if the Celestials kind of suck? What if the so-called "real reason" the Eternals have not been allowed to interfere in history is that they are just pawns in the Celestials' evil scheme, and the movie is about the Eternals breaking free from the Celestials' control and becoming the heroes they know they can be? That would be nice! It's like that moment in a romantic comedy in which the person says, "It started as a bet, but then I fell in love" — but here, the romance is between the Eternals and everyone else on the planet. 

Actually, it's just what the trailer told us.

Maybe the Eternals are just like cowboys, or pirates, or Dexter Morgan. They live by a code. They sit idly by on the sidelines, watching humanity progress and regress and don't do anything about it until their evil counterparts the Deviants show up. If there is one thing connecting Phase 4 so far, it is the fallout from the Blip. "WandaVision" was about grief and the personal toll that Thanos' invasion took. "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" explored the socio-economic consequences. Even "Spider-Man: Far From Home," which was technically the end of Phase 3, grappled with how people are expected to get on with everyday life after experiencing a traumatic event.

Again, it cannot be stressed enough that Doctor Strange also thought it was best not to stop Thanos from snapping away half of the population. We really don't need an explanation from the Eternals as to why they didn't prevent it. Whatever reason they have, it's probably a good one.

They just didn't feel like it

There are a ton of jokes and memes on social media about the Eternals just being, like, on vacation during all of the Avengers-level events. Maybe they didn't stop Thanos because they overslept. Maybe they were in the middle of playing Twister and couldn't be bothered to suspend the game.

While one would hope that the Marvel Cinematic Universe wouldn't offer a glib explanation as to why a group of powerful individuals would ignore global events that caused massive human suffering, it might! The MCU's sense of humor can get a little weird at times. There is always the possibility that Marvel will make this into some kind of a running bit. Remember the jarring moment at the end of the teaser trailer when Ikaris mildly suggests that he lead the Avengers and everyone laughs at him like it's a ridiculous idea? Maybe this is actually how the Eternals view humanity after so many years. They've been around for so long, perhaps they've just became complacent about the inevitability of human suffering.

Turning their absence into some kind of joke might be the least likable explanation, and could turn a lot of fans against the Eternals, but it could happen. Hey, it's Marvel. Anything is possible.