Lines In Eternals That Mean More Than You Realize
Even though its runtime is well over two hours, writer/director Chloe Zhao’s “Eternals” feels like it still has far more information to convey than it is frequently able to get across. This is particularly true in much of the dense, exposition-heavy dialogue. Lines are unceremoniously dropped, only to later reveal far more depth. References are made to other MCU heroes, a grander scheme that goes beyond Earth itself, metaphysical revelations about the essence of humanity — and you barely have enough time to process one revelation before the conversation turns.
With that in mind, here’s a (spoiler-heavy) breakdown of such “Eternals” lines, ones that at first might seem inconsequential, but actually mean far more than you realize. Perhaps they allude to the grander MCU, a moment in the series audiences have never seen before, or signify a crisis in the very identity of the Eternals. Either way, read on — and listen close.
You've had too much to drink
In an early scene, this is what Sprite (Lia McHugh) says to a flirtatious bar patron who tries to take their conversation to the next level. Employing her power to create illusions, as well as her desire to be a human adult, she made herself look like an attractive grown-up woman, but the moment proves fleeting as he reaches for the hand of the Eternal. Fortunately, Sprite finds it easy to manipulate a human’s thoughts, and can slip right back into her natural form; unfortunately, when she returns to her natural form it is her despised visage of a pre-teen girl.
The moment not only clues us into Sprite’s mischievous, Loki-like love of trickery and illusion, but also of her desire to be taken seriously as both a human and an adult — which seems to come so easily for her fellow Eternals. Life has played a cruel trick on Sprite, making her almost always the oldest, wisest, most experienced being in any given room, yet eternally resembling a child. Over the span of 7000 years, you can see how that could get a bit tiresome.
We also get the earliest seed of a motivation here for Sprite’s eventual betrayal, her longing for the affection of a man (Ikaris), and her eventual redemption and decision to leave it all behind in exchange for life — and someday, a very human death.
Well, I guess you must be the pilot
This is the response of Dane Whitman (Kit Harington) when he comes face-to-face with Ikaris (Richard Madden), the “ex-boyfriend” of Sersi (Gemma Chan). For some time, he’s heard about his girlfriend’s ex, and it’s never easy to live in the shadow of someone else who has shared a love with someone you’re in love with, but Dane has been trying hard to get past these recollections of “the pilot” (because Ikaris can fly, get it?).
Now, as the information finally begins to coalesce, the line shows that Dane is trying to play it cool, is trying to be supportive of Sersi in the moment, but is likely feeling a bit inadequate. After all, how would you feel if you discovered your ex had dated Superman or Wonder-Woman? On a different level, the scene is fun for “Game of Thrones” fans because it serves as a reunion between Jon Snow and Robb Stark, two beloved fan favorites from the HBO series.
If we protected humanity for 7,000 years, you'd never have the chance to develop
Sersi’s response to Dane’s inevitable question about Thanos not only acts as a stand-in moment for MCU fans wondering why this group didn’t intervene in the “Infinity War,” but it also reflects on a hard-to-grasp reality about these long-living, super-powered, god-like beings: they’re just middle management.
When the Eternals were created and installed on Earth all those years ago, they were given orders, and they have followed those orders well. At the beginning of the “current day” scenes in the film, the Deviants have seemingly been exterminated, and the group have been rewarded with a well-deserved extended vacation. Humanity, for the most part, has spent the last several hundred years thriving, both in terms of population and the development of technologies and medicine.
As details of “the emergence” are revealed, it should serve as a cause for celebration among the Eternals. It signifies a job well done, and although it means the end of humanity as we know it, for the Eternals it’s the equivalent of building a successful branch office and being promoted to go head up a new region. A few of them are ready to take this pat on the back and help the bosses with new development plans; this line shows how Sersi begins the film toeing the company line, but eventually comes to realize she loves her underlings at the local branch.
I am yours, Cersei, if you'll have me
You may not realize the importance of the line at the moment, but these 8 words kick off the first sex scene in MCU history. Sure, there are plenty of romances in Marvel movies — Pepper Potts and Tony Stark, Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter, Peter Quill and Gamora all come to mind — but some have criticized the fact that, in more than two dozen movies, these supposedly-in-love characters haven’t done what comes naturally. In this scene, “Eternals” seeks to reverse the trend by putting it all out there.
But this tender moment between Sersi and Ikaris might be the most un-sexy sex scene since “Jackie Brown.” There’s less skin on display than if the actors were doing a scene in old-timey bathing suits; they lie down on top of each other, sure, but the Heimlich maneuver has more thrust.
While this certainly ain’t “Last Tango in Paris,” it is a teensy step forward. Perhaps in future movies, two consenting adults could act like … consenting adults? Such a thing would go a long way towards taking super-powered beings and making them seem more human.
It's too late. Everyone is going to die
It’s obvious early on that Thena is grappling with some problems — and this line reveals the dark side of that struggle. Through flashbacks, we learn that the Angelina Jolie character is suffering from something called “Mahd Wy’ry,” which resembles what we earthlings typically see in our elderly and would call dementia.
Thena’s eyes glaze over on occasion, indicating an oncoming episode. She’ll sometimes forget where she is in time, who she’s with, and assume they must be an enemy. This can be a very dangerous thing, particularly with someone who has superpowers and can manifest deadly weapons at a moment’s notice.
It is initially believed that Thena’s Mahd Wy’ry is the result of being alive for so long that her memories are becoming confused; as the audience later learns, it’s somewhat the opposite. Thena’s problem isn’t that she’s forgetting things, it’s that she remembers everything. Unlike the other Eternals, her memory hasn’t been effectively wiped clean with every new deployment; all these memories have become a jumble, to the point where Gilgamesh needs to step in and serve as a caretaker. But as it turns out, Thena knows enough to remember the true intentions of the Celestials.
Find your own purpose. And one day, when we see ourselves again, I want you to tell me what you've found
This line from Ajak (Salma Hayek) drives home the maternal role she has had in the lives of the Eternals for thousands of years — and the mistaken moment when they believe they’ve eradicated the last Deviant threat from Earth. As Prime Eternal, she is the group’s leader. She has the greatest insight into the Celestials, helps set the tone, and with these words sends the group on a long vacation where they are scattered to the ends of the world.
Kingo becomes a Bollywood star in India. Sersi moves to London, becomes a teacher and falls in love. Ajak finds peace on a ranch in South Dakota, Phastos settles in the suburbs of Chicago (where he also finds love), while Druig lands in the Amazon and uses his powers to “protect” (or perhaps more accurately stated, zombify) a village he comes to view as a utopia. Gilgamesh and Thena have settled in Australia, while Makkari seems to have stayed in the spaceship and caught up her reading.
What would you do if you had several hundred years of “me time” to yourself? What the Eternals choose to do says as much about them as any line in the movie; it’s a shame that Ajak never got to hear their stories.
Everything dies, except us, because we were never alive
Possibly the most impactful line from the film, it comes at a key moment when the Eternals essentially have the rug pulled out from under them. For thousands of years they have been immortal, invincible, near-omnipotent celestial beings; now, they are just worker ants whose hill is about to be destroyed so they can start anew.
The long-game of the Celestials was known by a select few — Ajak, later Ikaris, Thena on some level — but each reacted to it in different ways, and it wasn’t until the path forward became clear to Sersi that someone became determined to let it go no further, coupled with the ability to actually put a stop to it. Where does the Marvel universe go from here? Earth now has a group of super-powered, somewhat-revealed heroes. Soon, they might just help the Avengers save the day — if only they can get past their own identity crises.