How Will ‘The Eternals’ Movie Differ From The Comic Books?

When The Eternals hits theaters in November, it will kick off an epic new saga for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is centered around a band of powerful and immortal superheroes called the Eternals. Based on the Marvel comic book series of the same name, the movie comes with a few major character and story adjustments. From swapped genders to tweaked backstories, here’s how The Eternals movie will differ from the comics.

Marvel's 'The Eternals' Cast
‘The Eternals’ Cast | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Who are The Eternals?

Based on a series of comic books created by writer and illustrator Jack Kirby in 1976, The Eternals are a race of powerful human-like aliens who’ve been around for thousands of years. They were created by cosmic beings called The Celestials (mentioned in The Guardians of the Galaxy movie) who came to Earth millions of years ago to conduct genetic experiments which resulted in the creation of two races — the superhero Eternals and the monstrous and villainous Deviants. 

The movie will feature limited Eternals characters

The Eternals comic book series — which spanned over three decades and was rebooted and written by multiple authors — introduced readers to dozens of superhero characters, but the upcoming film is only bringing a handful of those Eternals to the screen.

In January, Marvel released an official synopsis of The Eternals and revealed that it would only feature 10 Eternals from the comics — Druig (Barry Keoghan), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Sersi (Gemma Chan), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Ajak (Salma Hayek), and Gilgamesh (Don Lee). 

Kit Harington will join the cast as Dane Whitman aka the Black Knight — a separate Marvel superhero that was once romantically involved with the Eternal Sersi. It’s unclear what connection Dane will have to the Eternals in the movie, but leaked photos from the set show Kit Harington kissing Gemma Chan, suggesting their characters’ comic book romance will be featured on screen. 

The Deviants will look different 

Throughout the comics, the Eternals are tasked with protecting the human race and are often pitted against their nemesis creation, the Deviants. While the Eternals are human-like and can easily blend in with Earth’s population, the Deviants are forced to remain underground due to their monstrous looks.

When talking to Omelete at the 2019 CCXP, Marvel President Kevin Feige said that The Eternals will feature a different version of these supervillains. “Deviants are in the film,” he revealed. “The Deviants in the comic book mythology were extremely important plans of the Celestials, and we will see Deviants that look unlike anything we’ve seen in the comics. This is a new form of Deviants that we’ll see in the movie.”

Some Eternals are swapping genders  

Three major characters will be swapping genders in The Eternals. Makkari, Sprite, and Ajak — who are all male superheroes in the original comics — are now female characters in the movie. 

In an Instagram post, actress Salma Hayek, who plays Ajak, expressed her excitement about the gender change of her character. “I’m so excited to join the Marvel family as Ajak, the mother of all Eternals,” she wrote. “It used to be the father of all Eternals, but girls… this is OUR time!!!!”

One character will become the first openly gay MCU superhero

In the comics, Phastos doesn’t have much of a backstory. However, in the film, the character is an openly gay male in a loving relationship. 

In an interview with Logo, actor Haaz Sleiman talked about his role as Phastos’ husband in the movie. “I just shot a Marvel film with the first openly gay superhero, The Eternals,” he told the outlet. “I’m married to the gay superhero Phastos, played by Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry. And we represent a gay family and have a child.”

Sleiman also noted that the film will also feature MCU’s first gay kiss. “It’s a beautiful, very moving kiss,” he said. “Everyone cried on set. For me it’s very important to show how loving and beautiful a queer family can be.”
For the most part, Marvel is taking extreme measures to prevent story and character details from leaking. So fans will have to wait until The Eternals hits theaters November 6 to get the full picture.