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The Eternals: everything we know about Marvel’s star-studded superhero film

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Gemma Chan

Everyone from Gemma Chan to Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Richard Madden have signed on to star in Marvel’s diverse superhero film. Here is everything we know about the most anticipated movie of 2020. 

The future of the Marvel cinematic universe is female.

Just take a look at The Eternals, Marvel’s much-anticipated mega-hero movie coming in 2020. The film is their biggest release of next year and not only will it be helmed by a female director – indie favourite Chloe Zhao – it features a diverse cast including Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, deaf actor Lauren Ridloff, Lia McHugh and Gemma Chan.

Variety reports that the British actor is joining the film in a role that won’t be the same as the one Chan played in her previous Marvel outing Captain Marvel. If you remember your scripture correctly, you’ll recall that Chan had a memorable part in the Brie Larson-led superhero flick as Minn-Erva, a calculating Skrull assassin who comes to blows with Captain Marvel in the film’s epic finale. But in The Eternals Chan is playing someone entirely new. 

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Marvel is famous for its tight-lipped secret keeping, but at the D23 convention in August the production company revealed a few details about the much-anticipated The Eternals. This is what we know about the superhero movie so far: 

What is the plot of The Eternals?

The Eternals will tell the stories of one of Marvel’s most interesting collection of characters: a group of superhumans created by alien gods called the Celestials. 

The cast of Marvel's The Eternals.
The cast of Marvel's The Eternals.

They have all the usual roster of super powers – strength, flight, mind reading and control, forcefield generation, levitation, producing big jolts of energy with their bare hands. And they have a great set of enemies in the Deviants, the Celestials’ mortal enemies.

Like Thor, The Eternals is loosely based on real-life mythology and some of the most prominent gods and goddesses – in this case the Greek pantheon. Unlike Thor, though, the similarities between Greek mythology and The Eternals ends there. The comic book series, which was written by Neil Gaiman at one point in time, takes mythology and layers sci-fi elements and alien technology on top of it like a delicious lasagna. There’s nothing ancient about these characters. 

That’s about as much as we know about the plot of the film at this stage. We’ll keep you posted as we know more.

Who is in the cast of The Eternals

The big name in the cast is Angelina Jolie who is playing Thena, a character very loosely based – loose like your favourite oversized jumper – on the Greek mythological figure Athena.

Ikaris, a character inspired by Icarus, will be played by Richard Madden. Salma Hayek is taking on Ajak with Kumail Nanjiani in the role of Kingo. Lia McHugh is playing Sprite, Brian Tyree Henry will take on Phastos, the role of Gilgamesh has gone to Dong-seok Ma and Lauren Ridloff is playing Makkari.

“She’s a warrior,” Jolie told PEOPLE of her character. “I’m going to work very hard to give the Marvel Cinematic Universe the Thena they deserve.” The actor added that her children are excited that she is being involved in such an empowering story. “What’s really moving to me is that they want to see me strong, and so it’s less to see me in a film but they’re just happy I will be strong and having fun,” she explained. 

This star-studded, truly diverse cast will also include Gemma Chan who is taking on the main character of Sersi, a figure based on the mythological figure Circe, the same character who dominates the story in Madeline Miller’s eponymous novel. Kit Harington will play the human superhero Black Knight, who is the keeper of a mythical sword and becomes an eventual member of the Avengers, as well as a romantic interest for Sersi. (Yes, Jon Snow and Robb Stark are reuniting in a Marvel movie.) 

Barry Keoghan of Dunkirk and Chernobyl is also starring in the film in an unknown role

Who is directing The Eternals?

In the director’s chair for The Eternals is Chloe Zhao. The Chinese director cut her teeth in the world of independent film with The Rider, a lauded modern Western that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Her next film, this year’s Nomadland, stars Frances McDormand in her first post-Oscars role as a woman who loses everything in America’s Great Recession and ends up spending months criss-crossing the country in a van.

Chloe Zhao embraced by her The Eternals star Richard Madden
Chloe Zhao embraced by her The Eternals star Richard Madden

After Nomadland, Zhao will turn her efforts to The Eternals. The movie is slated to begin filming in September at Pinewood Studios in London and is set for release in 2020.

Alongside Cathy Yan, who is directing DC’s Birds of Prey starring Margot Robbie, Zhao is the second Asian woman to direct a big budge superhero film.

“I think Chloe is going to make a special Marvel film. With all the love and respect for the others and what makes them work, we hope to add something new,” Jolie told PEOPLE

Is there a trailer for The Eternals?

Not yet. We’ll keep you posted as soon as one is released.

Is there a release date for The Eternals?

The Eternals will be released in cinemas on 6 November 2020.  

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.

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