The Eternals Are 'Earth's Original Superheroes' Who Are Resurfacing For A Reason

You've met Earth's mightiest heroes, the Avengers. Soon, Chloé Zhao and Marvel Studios will introduce you to "Earth's original superheroes," the Eternals.

The 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Eternals" is set to open in November. When it does, it will be the first MCU film helmed by a filmmaker who has won the Best Director Oscar — not to mention the first MCU film to receive a PG-13 rating for the scandalous(!) inclusion of "brief sexuality."

Zhao took home the Oscar earlier this year for "Nomadland," and she clearly has high aspirations for "Eternals." We just reported that her film is drawing inspiration from the likes of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," and Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar." Zhao also used stills from the films of Denis Villeneuve when she was pitching Marvel.

In an interview with Fandango this week, she addressed the origins of the Eternals:

"We like to call them Earth's original superheroes. So, they were instructed to stand on the sideline once the Deviants were gone to allow humans to develop and progress in the way that we were meant to...and that ultimately led us to someone like Tony [Stark]. So, they've always existed in the just never know where they might show up again."

A Long History (and Long Movie)

We heard previously that "Eternals" will take viewers back to the earliest days of the MCU. The Eternals themselves have been around for 7,000 years, since before Thanos was born, so there's a lot of ground to cover with these new-old heroes. This may be why "Eternals" has a running time of over two and half hours, making it one of the longest Marvel movies this side of "Avengers: Endgame," which clocked in at a full three hours.

In trailers and in interviews, Marvel and Zhao have already been heading off questions about why the Eternals sat out the whole fight with Thanos, when he had the Infinity Gauntlet and was capable of willing half of all life out of existence. The fate of the universe was on the line, but that wasn't enough to stir the Eternals from the shadows. As Zhao explained above, "they were instructed to stand on the sideline once the Deviants were gone." It seems they have something of a non-interference policy in human history, much like the Watcher in Marvel's animated Disney+ series, "What If...?" (which could feature the Eternals in its second season).

Zhao has said that "Eternals" will explore how not interfering, being relegated to the sidelines, made Earth's original heroes feel. It sounds like they'll be doing some soul-searching, and I can only imagine what it would be like to have these cosmic characters doing Malickian voiceovers in a Marvel movie. 

"Eternals" arrives in U.S. theaters on November 5, 2021.