Marvel and Disney have taken some big swings with the MCU, most of which have paid off. Now, they have another one on the way called Eternals, which is focused on a fairly obscure group of characters. But if this new group of heroes has been on Earth for thousands of years, it begs the question of why they were MIA during the whole Thanos ordeal as well as why they’re appearing now.
Eternals in the comics
Created by comic book icon Jack Kirby, the Eternals debuted in the pages of Marvel Comics in 1976. Celestials visited Earth a million years ago, conducting experiments that created the heroic Eternals and the villainous Deviants. Incidentally, the Celestials also performed similar experiments on both the Kree and Skrull home worlds. Apparently, their unprompted meddling is intergalactic.
All of the Eternals are long-lived and virtually immortal. Additionally, each one of them has their own unique powers. While there is a population of them on Earth, there’s also another group of them living on one of Saturn’s moons, Titan. That’s a key detail in the comics as that is where Thanos was born and raised. He was an Eternal born with dominant Deviant genetics. Titan was also the site of his earliest crimes.
Sersi is arguably the best known of the Earth-based Eternals due to her long association with the Avengers. She was at her most prominent in the 1990s and participated in most of their top stories. Recently, all of the Eternals were killed as part of the Dark Celestials storyline, and were resurrected during the launch of their new ongoing comic book in January 2021. It’s almost like they were revived to capitalize on the new movie.
Missing in the MCU
The MCU version of Thanos was from a world called Titan but he was never established as an Eternal. This was because they didn’t exists as part of the MCU at that point. The early trailers and information about Eternals have made it clear that they were around, though. This has already left fans wondering why they didn’t involve themselves in the battle.
While it’s entirely possible that they were snapped out of existence in Infinity War, they would have returned for Endgame. The Eternals easily could have been part of that fight. That being said, there are any number of battles that members of their group could have been a part over the previous 20+ movies. Given their powers and their desire to guide humanity, it’s a wonder they didn’t pop up sooner.
The upcoming film is going to have to work incredibly hard to justify that. Trailers have indicated that they have some sort of “non interference” code. But then the question becomes “why now?” Naturally, the Deviants will be a factor in all of this. But the MCU has backed itself into a bit of a narrative corner. Now, any character debuts that have a backstory rooted before Iron Man will have to explain why those heroes didn’t get involved.