With the Infinity Saga coming to a close, Marvel Studios is preparing to launch into an all-new, all-different era beginning with Phase 4. While several properties are going to serve as deeper dives into already established characters and worlds, Eternals is going to introduce new characters and change what we think we know about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Eternals were born in the mind of Jack Kiby as Marvel Comics “ancient aliens”: beings of immense power who had protected Earth since the beginning of time. Over the course of history, the Eternals and their enemies, the Deviants, worked their way into the religions and mythologies of many cultures gods and monsters, angels and devils and heroes and villains. Marvel Studios will certainly put their own spin on the characters, but we can still take an opportunity to get to know them here…in 400 words or less!
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Jack Kirby’s Eternals is the idea that these ancient beings worked their way into the mythologies and religious stories of cultures around the world. In the case of the Eternal Gilgamesh, Kirby reshaped the legend of one of literature’s first heroes. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written in ancient Mesopotamia and gave an incredible account of the real life ruler of the ancient city of Uruk (modern day Iraq) and is considered the earliest great work of literature to have survived to “modern day.” The story includes dozens of archetypal characters and events that Kirby cleverly took advantage of when he decided to add the great hero to the roster of Eternals beginning in Eternals #13. Kirby used the idea that Gilgamesh was such a legendary character to an interesting end. Gilgamesh’s prominent place in the pantheon of human heroes meant that he must have been spending a lot of time among the humans, something that was frowned upon by Zuras, the Prime Eternal of that time. As punishment for his all-to-frequent meddling in humanity’s affairs rather than saving them from the shadows, Gilgamesh was ordered not to leave the Eternal city of Olympia again and, after a time, became known as The Forgotten One. Eventually, however, the Eternals need for his incredible physical strength (Gilgamesh’s strength was unparalleled, even among the other immensely powerful Eternals) in their battle against the Deviants brought him out of Olympia and back into the world. Gil served as an Avenger and struck up a great friendship with Hercules, a hero for whom he was sometimes mistaken, and regained his status as a legendary hero.
South Korean action star Ma Dong-seok has taken on the physically formidable task of bringing Gilgamesh to the big screen. The concept art for Ma’s character gives a very different vibe from either his earliest appearances or his recent redraws. It’ll be interesting to see how much of the hero’s past factors into the movie but there is no doubt that Ma is going to be smashing heads when we see him in Eternals!
Eternals is currently expected to hit theaters on February 12, 2021.