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Comic fans can’t stop talking about Marvel’s The Eternals film, set for a 2020 big-screen release, but not just because fans of the MCU (how comic book junkies refer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe) can’t wait for an all-new franchise of intergalactic heroes and villains. In addition, the film is expected to finally give queer fans what they’ve been crying out for: Marvel films’ very first gay superhero.
While details surrounding the MCU’s first gay superhero are rather scarce, as Marvel is notoriously secretive about its film projects, here’s what we do know about the Eternals film, its comic book origins and why everyone is saying a gay hero is finally on the way.
Who are The Eternals?
The first appearance of The Eternals in comic books was in 1976. They’re sprung from the mind of Jack Kirby, who also created beloved heroes like Captain America, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men (with Stan Lee).
To understand who the Eternals are, first you have to know about the Celestials, ancient cosmic beings who you’ve heard of before if you recall Star-Lord’s father Ego, the Living Planet, from Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The Celestials (pictured below) engaged in experiments on Earth that gave birth to the Eternals, intended as defenders of the planet against their destructive counterparts, the Deviants.
Even though Eternals appear human, they live much longer (though ironically aren’t actually eternal) and use advanced technology and superhuman powers to protect the human race, most often against the Deviants.
While each Eternal comes with his or her own powers, it’s generally understood that Eternals possess the gifts of superman strength, flight, telepathy, teleportation, transmutation and more.
In 2006, Neil Gaiman (writer of American Gods, Coraline and Sandman) wrote a critically acclaimed Eternals miniseries.
While The Eternals are hardly one of the most well-known teams to hail from Marvel comic books, let’s remember that Guardians of the Galaxy was largely considered to be a second-rate title before those films truly took off and made everyone fans of Star-Lord and his team.
What do we know about Marvel’s upcoming The Eternals film?
We learned from The Hollywood Reporter back in September 2018 that the screenplay for the Eternals film was penned by Matthew and Ryan Firpo (they’re cousins), and much like the film franchises The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, which also take place in the MCU, the Eternals film centers around a team of superheroes.
We also learned last year that set to direct the Eternals film is Chloe Zhao, a Chinese director, writer and producer known for directing her own feature films Songs My Brother Taught Me (2015) and The Rider (2017).
Zhao had been previously on the shortlist to direct Scarlett Johansson in the Black Widow standalone movie.
Sources told THR late last year that the story of this Eternals film is expected to center around the love story of two Eternals in particular: Ikaris, a male Eternal fueled by cosmic energy (his son being Icarus from Greek mythology), and Sersi, a female Eternal who enjoys spending time among humans while influencing their Earthly history.
Additional characters planned to appear in the Eternals film include Karen, Piper, Elysius, “The Forgotten One” Gilgamesh, Makkari, Starfox (who happens to be Thanos’s brother, pictured above), Thana, Zuras, the villain Druig and an unnamed “Greek God” who some are predicting will be Hercules.
The story is believed to be inspired by Neil Gaiman’s 2006 relaunch (above), and much like the successful film franchise Guardians of the Galaxy and the upcoming Captain Marvel (in theaters this week), the Eternals film sees the MCU get more involved with what’s happening up above. Like, way above, as in space, as opposed to down on Planet Earth.
It’s believed the film will begin shooting in the Untied Kingdom this September and not wrap until January 2020.
What do we know about the MCU’s first gay superhero?
The interwebs recently caught wind of a casting notice for the upcoming Eternals film, and included on the roster was one role in particular that got the world buzzing about the MCU’s first gay superhero.
The studio is searching for a male actor, 30–49 years old, who “physically looks like a superhero.” Believed to be one of the film’s lead roles, the studio is open to a range of ethnicities, but would prefer that the role go to an openly gay actor.
As none of the characters in the Eternals comics have been gay, it’s possible the MCU’s first gay superhero will be a brand-new character, never before seen on the page.
Word of the MCU’s first gay superhero has been a while coming, and this new info makes sense following an interview with Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige from last summer in which he said there would soon be at least two LGBTQ on-screen characters.