A lot of news surrounding Phase 4 of the MCU came out of D23 2019, including new Disney+ MCU shows, movie release dates, and a fuller, more diverse cast reveal for Marvel’s The Eternals. Now Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, has confirmed there will be an openly gay character in the series.
(Spoilers below for Neil Gaiman’s 2006 Eternals mini-series.)
In an interview that ran on Good Morning America, Feige doesn’t confirm who the character is, but mentions that “he’s married, he’s got a family, and that is just part of who he is.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 26, 2019
If you’re unfamiliar with The Eternals, they’re a Marvel/Jack Kirby creation from the ’70s; a group of super-powered immortals, blessed by the Celestials (who we got a peek at in Guardians of the Galaxy), who are considered the progenitors, or inspiration for, many of the gods we’re familiar with. (The same way that the Asgardians are clearly inspiration for Norse myth in the MCU.) They’re originally meant to be the guardians of life on Earth, but war with their counterparts the Deviants and eventually vanish from history.
Interestingly, Feige’s comment is perhaps most notable for hinting, and perhaps fully revealing, the overall premise for Marvel’s mysterious new tentpole franchise.
In 2006, the Eternals characters got a little bit of a refresh in a mini-series written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by John Romita, Jr. In Gaiman’s story, all of the Eternals (but one) have no knowledge of their powers, their history, or who they are–they simply live their lives like the rest of humanity. They fall in love, they get married, they have families…just like Kevin Feige said at least one of The Eternals is doing.
Polygon speculates that if Gaiman’s version of The Eternals were to be used for the MCU, “the premise would explain where these characters have been during the past 10 years of cataclysmic events.”
Gaiman’s mini-series ends with the newly awoken Eternals searching for the rest of their cohort, still scattered across the world and unaware of their true nature. Such a story would allow the MCU to continue to generate weird new super-powered beings without having to explain much about the origins of their powers. (And we can definitely see Wanda and Pietro being retconned into this.) Perhaps this even the overarching plan for introducing mutant-like characters into the MCU before the Fox acquisition!
The Eternals debuts in theaters on November 6, 2020.