The Marvel Cinematic Universe keeps expanding.
Avengers: Endgame may have closed out one Marvel chapter, but a new one is starting today. Directed by Oscar winner Chloé Zhao, the long-awaited Eternals hit theaters Nov. 5, bringing some of Marvel comics’ strangest and most memorable characters to the big screen.
The Eternals are a fascinating part of comics lore, first dreamed up by Jack Kirby in the 1970s, when he returned to Marvel after briefly working for rival DC. (In fact, the Eternals share some similarities with DC’s New Gods, which Kirby created while working there.) The Eternals are essentially idealized, humanoid aliens from the planet Olympia, genetically engineered by the godlike Celestials. These particular Eternals were sent to Earth by the Celestials to fight against the evil Deviants and defend humanity, and they’ve been silently keeping watch for the last 7,000 years.
Whether you’re new to the MCU or you’ve read every Eternals comic Jack Kirby or Neil Gaiman ever wrote, here’s your in-depth breakdown of the film’s major players.
Who?: It’s no coincidence that Thena’s name is so similar to that of the Greek goddess of war — according to Marvel, Thena is “more comfortable in battle than anywhere else.” Like Phastos, she can conjure weapons with her mind, though she takes pleasure in wielding them and unleashing cosmic, PG-13 carnage.
Powers: Superhuman sparring. She’s incredibly quick, strong, reflexive — a nearly unbeatable warrior.
Did you know?: In the comics, she once had a dalliance with a Deviant leader named Kro, and their tumultuous relationship has hindered both the Eternals and their foes.
Who?: In the comics, the Eternals are often led by Ikaris, usually portrayed as a blond-haired, blue-eyed muscleman reminiscent of He-Man but with laser eyes. In some comics appearances, he’s been named the Prime Eternal, or the Eternal who rules over the rest.
Powers: Laser-beam eyes. You name it, Ikaris can probably do it. He can fly at speeds up to 850 miles per hour, creates convincing illusions and shoots laser beams out of his eyes, among many other abilities.
Did you know?: In the comics, when he’s in disguise as a human, he goes by the name “Ike Harris.” Ikaris is definitely one of the brawniest Eternals, but creative, he is not.
Who?: it’s Ikaris who typically runs the Eternals in the comics sphere, Sersi is its heart. She’s something of a historian of humankind, having had a first-row seat to events like the fall of Rome and the French Revolution, per Marvel. You’ll often find Sersi in green, a nod, perhaps, to her deep love and appreciation of the Earth and its inhabitants. She’s also had a centuries-long, on-and-off relationship with fellow Eternal, Ikaris.
Powers: Matter transmutation. Basically, she can alter matter into any form she chooses (remember in the “Eternals” trailer, when she appears to dissolve a double decker bus into a parade of petals?).
Did you know?: In the comics, Sersi joined the Avengers for a spell. Though she later quit the group full-time, she sometimes still helps them out when they need a hand from a godlike hero.
Who?: While many of the other Eternals elected to live anonymously among humankind, Kingo became a film star (in the comics, he’s an actor known for Japanese samurai films; in the film, he’s a Bollywood performer).
Powers: Fighting in style. Kingo can do what basically every Eternal can do — kick butt with little effort, though he prefers to fend off foes with the panache of a leading man. He has the ego of one, too.
Did you know? : Kingo apparently fashions himself the star of the Eternals. Thena and Ikaris would like a word.
Who?: The speed runner Makkari has dashed all around the planet and is, frankly, bored by what she’s found. In the film, the Eternals ask her to put aside her boredom for a few days to help them defeat the Deviants and save the world so she can traverse other planets.
Powers:Super speed. Quicksilver who? Makkari is the “fastest woman in the universe,” Marvel says.
Did you know?: Ridloff is deaf — and Makkari is the first deaf superhero in the MCU — so the Eternals communicate with Makkari via sign language.
Who?: Though in the comics, Ajak is portrayed as male, Hayek said she sees her character as a maternal figure, a “spiritual leader” of sorts who connects with each of them even when they’re at odds and keeps the group on course.
Powers:Healing. Ajak heals both humans and Eternals, and she’s one of the few to have direct contact with the Celestials to receive updates on their mission.
Did you know?: In the comics, Ajak is “brilliant archaeologist and skilled wrestler,” Marvel says. Even godlike heroes need hobbies.
Who?: Sprite is as mischievous as her name suggests. Though she’s just as old as her counterparts, she has the appearance of a perpetual preteen, which she uses to her advantage — one comics run saw her starring in her own teen sitcom. Her naivety can also be disastrous, though: In one series, the Sprite “altered reality on a cosmic scale,” according to Marvel. Sprite has also been written as male in the comics for much of the character’s run.
Powers: Illusions. The group’s “grandiose storyteller,” Sprite casts lifelike mirages and can teleport herself if needed.
Did you know?: She was once, according to Marvel, a thorn in the side of William Shakespeare, inspiring the Bard’s character “Puck” in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Who?: The inventor of the group and a sworn pacifist, Phastos is also the first out, gay superhero in the MCU. (While Marvel comics feature a number of queer characters, only a few other characters — including Valkyrie and Loki — have been suggested, though not confirmed, to be queer onscreen.) Based on the film’s trailers, he’s also a frugal home decorator with a penchant for Ikea and sarcasm.
Powers: Invention and “technopathy.” If Phastos can see something in his mind’s eye, he can make it real — he has the ability to conjure up weapons and other inventions with little more than a thought.
Did you know?: At one point in the comics, he took the codename “Ceasefire” — a nod to his stance against war. (No one tell him he’s a superhero created to wage war against monsters!)
Who?: The strongest Eternal and Thena’s partner, Gilgamesh is a fearsome warrior but also a pretty nice guy, according to Marvel.
Powers: Indomitable strength. In battle, Gilgamesh employs a golden “exoskeleton” that protects his arms and fists and delivers devastating blows to enemies.
Did you know?: In the comics, he was known as “the Forgotten One” because he wasn’t aware he was an Eternal for many years.
Who?: There’s a darkness to Druig that the other Eternals lack. In the comics, he’s often prized his own success above the success of the Eternals and their mission to protect humans, which has made him dangerous. (Also in the comics, he’s been drawn to resemble a vampire of sorts.)
Powers: Mind control. Druig can see into humans’ minds and exploit their vulnerabilities. Yikes!
Did you know?: Druig isolates himself from the other Eternals due to his, er, opposing view of how to live alongside humans, per Marvel.