Ending Explained is a recurring series where we explore the finales, secrets, and themes of interesting movies and shows, both new and old. This time, we look at the ending of Eternals. Yes, prepare for spoilers.
Marvel movies rarely stand alone. We walk into them knowing a sequel is right around the corner, and the film we’re watching is merely a building block supporting a much larger structure. That’s their joy. That’s their frustration.
Eternals doesn’t break the mold. If anything, Chloé Zhao‘s sci-fi myth-opera reveals its snap-on franchise function more defiantly than previous entries. When the credits hit, we’re left hanging, but its two end-credits scenes offer juicy morsels allowing us to divine a tantalizing future for these new MCU adventurers.
In its last moments, Eternals hurls at us several new characters, new actors, and a voice we’ve been waiting to hear for two years now. When I watched it the other night, the film created as many gleeful exclamations from the crowd as it did quizzical chunters. The last time I remember such a strong reaction to a Marvel climax was 2012’s The Avengers when Thanos gave us that smile. Phase Four has been fine so far, but I want in on that Phase Five now, not tomorrow. And that’s a big win for the post-credits scene obsessed.
The Eternals Cliffhanger Ending
The film crescendos with our superteam divided. After thousands of years protecting humanity from Deviant predators, the Eternals discover that their Celestial masters are no good liars. They’ve only been safeguarding the population so that the Celestial baby buried within the Earth can feed off our energy, providing the necessary sustenance to birth itself and obliterate the planet. From our annihilation, countless other worlds will possibly spring, but it’s a destructive act that some Eternals cannot condone. Over the years, they’ve fallen for their flock.
Sersi (Gemma Chan), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), and Druig (Barry Keoghan) stand against their friends Ikaris (Richard Madden) and Sprite (Lia McHugh). Ultimately, the numbers win out, and the Celestial’s emergence is thwarted. Unable to fathom his failure, Ikaris achieves what his mythological counterpart never could; he races toward the sun, reaches it, and welcomes its warm, eradicating embrace.
The remaining Eternals attempt to find a new purpose. Thena, Makkari, and Druig board their starship, Domo, and seek answers in outer space, hoping to find and educate other Eternals. On Earth, Sersi grants Sprite a human life, one that will age and eventually die. Sersi explains to her professor boyfriend, Dane Whitman (Kit Harington), why she’s been dodging his desire to move in with her, and he attempts to inform her about his own unique family situation.
But when you kill a god baby, its relatives will not sit on the sidelines. The film ends with Sersi and Dane’s heart-to-heart halted in mid-sentence. The Celestial Arishem, the space god who set the Eternals upon Earth, arrives in orbit and yanks Sersi, Kingo, Phastos, and Sprite into his clutches. He tells them that they will be judged for the crimes they’ve committed, and BAMF, they teleport away to their Law & Order: Special Celestial Unit sequel.
In the comics, when the Celestials initially returned to Earth, the Eternals came to humanity’s defense. They were our lawyers, pleading our good qualities while also acknowledging our flaws. It was an opportunity for writer/artist Jack Kirby to figure out the species he himself belonged to, and in the process, guide his readers toward smarter, more moral decisions.
When we meet Sersi next, she’ll have a lot to explain. They murdered a god, and gracefully expounding humanity’s good points won’t be enough. A Celestial war seems imminent, and that’s something the Avengers will want in on. Remember, as seen in Spider–Man: Far From Home, Nick Fury is still floating around in space. With Captain Marvel and her Skrull buddies, they could be establishing a great defense with one helluva an offense, taking the fight to them.
The First Post-Credits Scene
If you spent anytime online this past week, you probably knew Harry Styles had already joined the MCU before you actually watched the film. Apparently it’s a casting too glorious for some to keep their mouths shut. Oh well, shame on the spoilers, but that’s how it goes sometimes.
The shock of his presence in Eternals is only half the joy. It’s who he’s playing that’s the true delight, and it’s the eccentric sidekick who reveals himself first that cocked this viewer’s eyebrow. Are we ready for Eros the Starfox and Pip the Troll? About as much as we were Rocket Racoon and Groot.
While Sersi, Kingo, Phastos, and Sprite face Celestial judgment, their buds Thena, Makkari, and Druig are wandering the cosmos. As they’re lamenting the lack of Eternals they’ve uncovered, a portal appears on the Domo bridge. A troll pops out, half-drunk, and slurring his words with Patton Oswalt‘s voice. He announces the arrival of Eros, brother of Thanos, and in walks Styles smiling from the shadows.
Eros is a fellow Eternal, but not made by the Celestials. He has a mother and a father, and his first home was Titan. His brother Thanos was born with a dominant Deviant gene, causing his monstrous appearance, and when their mother first saw Thanos, she was instantly driven mad and attempted to kill the baby.
The manner in which Thanos’ family and neighbors stared at him throughout his childhood kickstarted his journey toward despotic rule and genocidal solutions. Eros felt no such burden. He was a pretty boy, and he attacked life with a greedy gusto. Only after Thanos killed their mother did Eros snap from self-indulgence. Thanos’ defeat became his mission, and that quest put him in Pip the Troll’s circle of trust.
Eros’ comic book counterpart partnered with the Avengers, and together they delivered Thanos’ first defeat. The MCU iteration was clearly denied that pleasure. His travels never brought him toward a do-or-die bout with his brother, and it’s a confrontation that’s most likely left him feeling hollow and alone.
What we see in the first post-credits scene, however, is that he has the same communication orb as Eternal leader Ajak (Selma Hayek), meaning he can communicate directly with the Celestials. He knows that Thena’s Earthbound compatriots are in deep trouble, and he’s willing to lend a hand. In their rescue, he can accomplish what he never did with his brother. He can have justice.
The Second Post-Credits Scene
We’re back on Earth with Dane Whitman. That complicated family history he never told Sersi about is whispering within a wooden chest. He cracks open the box, and we see a shimmering sword. It purrs to him, and as his finger nearly touches the gleaming weapon, an unseen presence asks if he’s ready to carry such a tool.
According to Zhao, who could not control her excitement when chatting with Fandom, the voice belongs to none other than Blade. Two years ago, at the last in-person San Diego Comic-Con, Mahershala Ali was announced to take on the Daywalker role once played by Wesley Snipes and we’ve been teetering in anticipation ever since. It’s time to slay vampires in the MCU, and he wants Sersi’s boyfriend by his side. Why? He craves his blade, the treacherous Ebony Blade.
The sword before Whitman was forged by Merlin, made from a meteorite called Starstone. The Ebony Blade can deflect magic, slice through any object, and avert the death of its wielder. All good news, right? Well, it also curses its master with an uncontrollable bloodlust, and with each whack, the sword draws the darker aspects of its user to the surface. Where Excalibur is a tool for the pure-hearted, the Ebony Blade is a weapon made for bastards.
And we know Kit Harington knows a thing or two about that lifestyle. When he takes hold of the Ebony Blade, he’ll become The Black Knight, a character who has been both villain and hero within Marvel Comics. Whitman eventually joined the Avengers during one of their early skirmishes with Kang the Conqueror. During those trials, he proved his worth to Earth’s Mightiest, and it feels as if we could be seeing something similar in the MCU.
Before he can take on a temporal madman, though, Whitman and Blade will battle the vampiric horde in Blade’s solo film. Their two characters don’t spend much time together in the comics, but they did partner during the mid-aughts series, Captain Britain and MI13. Both men are hotheads and cantankerous with each other and should have fun tossing barbs back and forth as they slay bloodsuckers.
Eternals is now playing in theaters. Read our review of the film here.