The End Of Eternals Explained
When the end of “Eternals” hits, it’s as if someone picked an enormous white dandelion and blew on it, scattering its seeds all over the universe. The events of the first film have concluded, but there are multiple plot points being set into motion — some on Earth, others very far away. Some feature characters you’ll recognize immediately, while others get obscure and still others keep the action so close to the vest that all you get is a voice.
If you’ve seen “Eternals” and your head is still spinning, you’ve come to the right place. This is your (spoiler-heavy) source for all things ending-related, where we can safely analyze and speculate over what it all means, both for the Eternals and the MCU itself.
Whether you want more details on the dialogue you couldn’t hear because everyone was shrieking over the appearance of Harry Styles, or you simply want to understand which Eternals are still earthbound, read on for all the details.
Most of the first “Eternals” movie is concerned with “the emergence,” an event triggered by the energy expelled when half of the world’s population was snapped back into existence in “Avengers: Endgame.” This caused a literal Earth-quake (as in, the whole Earth quaked) that once again gave rise to the Deviants — mortal foes of the Eternals — and began triggering a series of events that would lead to the Celestials’ newly-revealed long-game: bringing an end to human life that will lead to the creation of many other new worlds. To paraphrase one character: all along, the Eternals have been basically farming humans as food for the Celestials.
The emergence begins, marked by an exploding volcano and the sight of the Celestial Tiamut seemingly rising up from the center of the planet. Just as his hand and part of his head begins to emerge, he is turned to marble.
At this point, it would be generous to say that the Eternals are hardly united in solidarity. Ikaris (Richard Madden) has revealed his cruel intentions (and that he murdered Ajak, played by Salma Hayek), and Sprite (Lia McHugh) has let puppy love get the better of her, joining Ikaris in a quest to assist the Celestials as they bring about the end of mankind. Meanwhile, a conflicted Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) has bailed, and with another Eternal recently deceased, that leaves Sersi (Gemma Chan), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) Druig (Barry Keoghan) and Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) to fight the good fight.
Bring on the Uni-Mind
As speculated by Phastos, the remaining Eternals can unite their power to create what he calls “the Uni-Mind.” First introduced by Jack Kirby in 1977’s “Eternals” #12, the Uni-Mind has served the group well over the years as their weapon of choice against the Celestials, so it’s only appropriate that they’d deploy it here. In the comics, Uni-Mind has often been depicted as a being of light and energy; in the film, the group emanates yellow tendrils of energy that link them together.
Since at this point, Sersi is the Prime Eternal, she is the principal beneficiary of the Uni-Mind, having her powers amplified substantially; in the comics, typically only the Prime Eternal can summon it. Once Phastos is able to contain Ikaris on the beach, and Druig delivers a crushing blow to the duplicitous Sprite, it frees up the remaining Eternals to maximize their Uni-Mind potential, stopping the emergence in its tracks and seemingly saving the day.
Thena's side adventure
While a lot of this is going on, Angelina Jolie’s Thena finds herself grappling with The Deviant Warlord Kro, presented in this film as being essentially the most powerful Deviant. Of course, she’s also grappling with issues of mind and memory, as she has been throughout most of the film — only, now the audience understands that her memory issues aren’t so much an inability to remember as an inability to forget.
Kro has a weapon the other Deviants do not wield — he can speak, which means he can manipulate. Throughout their epic battle, Kro attempts to confuse and even befriend the Eternal, and as her eyes glaze over the audience is fearful that his tactic might be working. By the end of their confrontation, Thena is wrapped up in Kro’s tendrils, about to have her energy drained, much like Ajak before her.
But our girl has a trick up her sleeve. At seemingly the last moment, Thena activates the golden spear she wields throughout the film — which doesn’t seem to be an object so much as it is a manifestation of her cosmic powers — and slices Kro into several pieces.
One of the cool things about this scene is that, in the comics, Thena and Kro were romantic partners for thousands of years. It was a relationship that was forbidden, since both the Eternals and Deviants are sworn enemies — but if you’re aware of such a storyline, the scene probably played even better, because you may have thought there was a real chance Kro and Thena could indeed come together.
Here come the judge
With the day seemingly saved, and the emergence seemingly avoided, everyone’s stories begin wrapping up. A furious Ikaris flies too close to the sun (wow, how did we not see that one coming), possibly killing himself; Sprite gets her wish fulfilled to be a real human. One group of Eternals (Thena, Makkari and Druig) hop aboard the Domo (ie, their spaceship) to head off in search of more Eternals. Another group (Sersi, Kingo and Phastos) stay behind on Earth in hopes of returning to their “human” lives.
It is this latter group that feeds one of the film’s cliffhangers. Just as Sersi seems to be reunited with Dane Whitman (Kit Harington) and preparing for her happily ever after, she is literally snatched off the planet by a vengeful Arishem — who holds the Earth-bound celestials before him, speaking to them in space with their planet now relegated to the background of the shot.
As it turns out — big surprise! — Arishem isn’t thrilled about how the Eternals betrayed their supposed duty. He also isn’t nearly so easy to stifle, which is why he now holds the Eternals before him as if they were misbehaving mice. “I will return,” he promises. “For judgment.”
As if that statement isn’t ominous enough, in the comics Arishem is often referred to as “Arishem the judge” and it isn’t because he has a tendency to let people off with a slap on the wrist and time served. Typically, he has the ability to judge which planet’s civilizations will live and die, and is the most powerful of the Celestial Hosts. The bottom line: When some future MCU movie presents Arishem’s judgment, it most likely will not be good news.
Post-credits scene, part 1
After a few dozen names scroll past, the screen lights back up to reveal the interior of the Domo, where our space-traveling Eternals have received word that their counterparts on Earth are being judged by Arishem: “It’s been weeks, we haven’t heard from any of them. We have to go back!”
It’s just then that a cosmic event occurs, depositing two space travelers into their ship. One remarks “No more drunk teleporting for you,” while the Eternals rush to see who these strangers are among their ranks. “Behold, the royal prince of Titan,” remarks a smart-alecky, small-in-stature CG character whose voice brings about the familiar tones of comedian Patton Oswalt. “Thanos’ brother.”
“I’m Eros,” the stranger (played by Harry Styles) explains. “This is Pip.”
For Marvel fans, all of this is big news. Eros is a very unorthodox character in the comics, known primarily for his hedonistic lifestyle and hard-partying ways. In the comics, he went on to join the Avengers — where he earned the Earthbound moniker Starfox — and became as adept at putting down baddies as he was at bedding women. Although they don’t get into all this in the post-credits scene, Eros is the son of two Eternals himself, has frequently battled Thanos (isn’t the resemblance uncanny?), and has comic book connections to such characters as Ultron (who he has fought) and the upcoming Disney+ series star “She-Hulk” (who served as his lawyer when he was put on trial for sexual assault).
Not to be overshadowed is Pip, who seems to be serving as a valet for Eros (and also serves as a great in-joke for Patton Oswalt, who has been known to battle, joke about and even help many an online troll over the years). Pip is a character some fans have been clamoring for, and there was a substantial groundswell not long ago to get Peter Dinklage cast in the part. While we may not be looking at multiple Emmy-winning actor Peter Dinklage, this Pip should still be a lot of fun.
“Your friends are in big trouble,” Eros says to the Eternals as the scene concludes. “And we know how to find them.”
Post-credits scene, part 2
After hundreds of more names roll past, the screen lights up once again. This time, we see the pay-off for a tease that Kit Harington’s character seemed to be making at the end of the film. As he was reunited with Gemma Chan’s Sersi, who was eager to reveal all about her world-saving adventure and desire to remain on Earth, Harington’s Dane had his own revelation to make. “Turns out,” he said, “my family history is complicated.”
That conversation was interrupted — perhaps, forever — when Arishem rudely interrupted and swept Sersi away for intergalactic judgment. In this second post-credits scene, we see a conflicted Dane in what looks to be a room in the Natural History Museum where he works as a historian, examining a strange-looking box.
“You can do this,” he keep telling himself. “You can do this.”
Inside is a sword (undoubtedly the magical Ebony Blade), which seems to be activating itself as Dane says “Death is my reward,” and “I’m sorry, I have to try.”
Just as something is about to happen, an off-camera voice indicates that someone substantial has entered the room, undetected. “Are you sure you’re ready for that?” the voice asks, seemingly interrupting Dane’s ritual.
What does it mean? Well, “Dane Whitman” is the name of an incarnation of the Black Knight, a Marvel character dating back to 1967’s “The Avengers” #47. In a nutshell, this character inherited a mystical sword wielded by other family members who bore the same name, using it for both good and bad. This family history goes all the way back to the time of King Arthur, and the Dane Whitman character assists the Avengers frequently, perhaps most notably against … wait for it … Kang the Conqueror, supposedly the big bad of this newest Marvel phase. Also, the Ebony Blade has been known to allow its wielder to … wait for it again … travel across various time streams, which could be very handy in a fractured multiverse.
The Ebony Blade was originally supposed to appear as an Easter egg in 2016’s “Doctor Strange,” but was dropped at some point. We might see the Black Knight sooner than you’d think, as rumor has it that Harington will appear in 2022’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” It seems clear that Marvel has been planning for some time to link Black Knight and Doctor Strange.
Who is the man behind the mysterious voice that seems intent on stopping Dane from claiming his birthright? Quite frankly, it’s impossible to say, but here’s one fun if completely unfounded guess: another sword-wielder, namely Mahershala Ali as Blade. Wouldn’t that be cool?