Marvel Studios’ Eternals is suddenly back in the conversation, and its possible resurgence could open quite a few doors for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A new rumor making the rounds online has the film’s third act impacting several future MCU projects, with 2024’s Thunderbolts at the center of it all. Industry insider Daniel RPK reports that the reformed supervillain team will gather for a trip to Tiamut, the massive Celestial that froze solid in the middle of the ocean at the end of Eternals, which has since become a full-blown island. According to RPK, there’s a chance Tiamut has become a natural supplier of a valuable new resource, Adamantium, which the team and several other parties have grown an interest in. How this could potentially play out is still a mystery, but if true, it might indicate the surprise return of a major Eternals character – Ikaris.
Ikaris, portrayed by Richard Madden in his first cinematic appearance, was last seen flying directly into the sun after betraying his fellow Eternals in the name of Arishem and the Emergence. It was assumed this act of self-punishment resulted in Ikaris’ death, but as Eternals so distinctly showcased, this does not exactly spell the ultimate end of an Eternal. Created by Celestials, the Eternals are built to last, and come with a near-endless amount of backup bodies should their current form be destroyed. It’s not a stretch to imagine Ikaris will make a comeback at some point in the MCU’s next phase, even if it’s not the exact version of the cosmic warrior fans previously saw perish. In fact, if Ikaris’ body was completely melted by the intensity of Earth’s sun, it would stand to reason Arishem and the Celestials would feel there’s enough at stake to send out another Ikaris with a new mind and a new mission. Return to Earth, and protect what’s left of Tiamut.
The Celestials, or at least Arishem, are now keeping a keen eye on Earth and its people. If Tiamut is actually an unexpected means of the MCU gaining Adamantium, the Celestials could view that as an undue advancement of humanity and send Ikaris to prevent the massive changes that might come with societies claiming the alien metal as their own. Whether or not this could make Ikaris the “evil Superman” figure rumored to act as the secret villain of Thunderbolts is, of course, still unknown. Other reports have made claims for the Sentry fitting that role, starting as part of the Thunderbolts roster sent after Tiamut’s Adamantium before losing his mind and becoming the main threat of the film. Perhaps both Sentry and Ikaris will appear in the movie, becoming rivals throughout the story. After all, if Sentry is a major antagonist in the project, the Thunderbolts will need a little extra help from someone a little more powerful if they have any hope of emerging victorious.
Aside from the undeniable “cool factor” of pitting two God-like superbeings against each other, the inclusion of Ikaris in Thunderbolts could also be a very smart “big picture” move on Marvel Studios’ part. If Eternals 2 is indeed coming, and it’s truly based on the recent Judgement Day comics written by Kieron Gillen, then Ikaris’ potential role in Thunderbolts would become a very useful throughline between the Eternals and the wider MCU. Judgement Day features a conflict between the Eternals, the Avengers, and the X-Men, over new discoveries in the Eternals’ purpose and the mutants’ gene code. If Tiamut is actually destined to transform into Genosha and play a role in the impending mutant side of the MCU, having a version of Ikaris aware of the way it affects the planet would act as an excellent prelude to an Eternals: Judgement Day film. Maybe, if Marvel Studios really wanted to get crazy, they could even have Ikaris’ meddling on “Genosha” factor into the island’s mutant evolution. It’s important to remember these are all just rumors at the moment. However, the events of Eternals and the franchise’s future playing such a vital role in the MCU would be a wonderfully unexpected way to resolve the Eternals’ arc and push the greater universe forward in a creative manner.