Who Is Arishem In Eternals? The Leader Of The Four Celestial Hosts Explained

Once upon a time, Marvel fans lost their minds over getting just the slightest hint of the otherworldly Celestials during one brief moment in the first "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie and a subsequent trip into the disembodied head of another. Since then, the James Gunn's "Guardians" sequel introduced a villain named "Ego the Living Planet," "Thor: Ragnarok" ended with a giant fire monster wiping out the entire realm of Asgard, and Thanos snapped half the universe out of existence (don't worry, they got better!). How far we've come! "Eternals" roared its way into theaters last night and will spend the rest of this weekend introducing moviegoers to a whole new team of superheroes, with roots in the deepest corners of Marvel cosmic lore. Sent to Earth at the behest of the almighty Celestials to combat the monstrous Deviants, the Eternals and their wider world are as wonderfully out-there and as faithful to the wildest imaginations of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko as any fan could possibly hope for.

But for all its glorious embrace of comic book silliness, "Eternals" could prove to be a tad bit overwhelming to those coming into this movie with little to no prior knowledge of the source material. That's where we come in, because we have the answers to any and all of the Celestial-related questions you may have after watching the credits (and those two post-credit scenes, as well) roll.

We'll be throwing around major spoilers for "Eternals" after this point, so proceed at your own risk!

Arishem's Role in Eternals

Man, if only Loki — our version of him, at least, although we can't get enough of that troublemaking Variant — had lived long enough to somehow make his way into "Eternals." When summing up his disdainful perspective of humanity, the haughty villain once memorably likened himself to the "boot" that steps on helpless ants. Well, the god of mischief found out the hard way at the hands of Thanos that there are powers in the Marvel universe that far exceed his own. "Eternals" goes even further and shows off the terrifying, godlike awe of the Celestials who created beings like Thanos (according to the comics, at least) and the Eternals of the film in the first place, instantly clarifying the true hierarchy and food chain in the universe.

Fans were in for a surprise after a crucial twist roughly halfway through "Eternals," however, when Gemma Chan's Sersi finally links up with the chief Celestial Arishem for a long overdue chat. Essentially, the highest god of the Eternals, he's the one who sent Sersi Ajak, (Salma Hayek), Ikarus (Richard Madden), and the rest of their team to Earth and tasked them with protecting humanity from the threat of Deviants thousands of years in the past. Shockingly, Arishem and the rest of the Celestials are painted as outright villains as the Celestial lays out his plan for Sersi. It becomes clear that the Eternals and Deviants are little more than tools at the whims of their masters, meant to bide their time and prepare the way for the birth of new Celestials ... which has the inevitable side-effect of destroying the entire planet that they're born from.

The rest of the movie deals with the Eternals coming to grips with this disturbing revelation and processing their own culpability in this grand scheme. Yes, entire planets are destroyed when a new Celestial comes into being, but those Celestials go on to seed life in other planets and create billions of other lifeforms across millennia. The planet-loving Sersi, of course, rallies the troops and attempts to defy Arishem's "natural order" by preventing the emergence of the Celestial. The team barely succeeds in the end and only at great cost, but Arishem makes one last surprise appearance on Earth's doorstep to wrangle together his disobedient children and pronounce "judgment" on them as they all vanish into the ether.

Arishem's Comics History

Referred to as "Arishem the Judge," the predominant "Eternals" villain was originally created by Jack Kirby and first arrived in the pages of Marvel comics in the "Eternals #2" edition in 1976. He became the Leader of the Four Celestial Hosts on Earth, groups of Celestials that return to Earth every few thousand years to take stock of how life is progressing on the planet. While moving from planet to planet, Arishem's overall role was to mercilessly judge which planets and civilizations were worthy enough to escape destruction at his own hand. "Eternals" pays homage to this title with his very last words in the film, announcing that he will be pronouncing his judgment on our heroes and necessitating the appearance of two new characters (well, one and his overbearing sidekick, at least) to help get them back safely. Arishem is regarded as the most powerful of all the Celestial Hosts, coming second in authority only to the being known as the "One Above All."

Arishem's comic history involves brushes with the X-Men (fun fact: mutants Cyclops and Jean Grey actually managed to hurt the Celestial during a period of time known as the "Judgment War"), the Avengers, and even the Watchers themselves in a distant and forgotten galaxy. Clearly, "Eternals" hardly even tapped into the potential of Arishem's appearance despite giving us the most complex and pronounced focus on the Celestials of any MCU movie to this point. With "Eternals" currently in theaters and the seeds already planted for their future roles in the franchise, we'll have to wait and see just how the Marvel heads decide to incorporate the threat of Arishem in the years to come.