Despite the Eternals being positioned as “Gods amongst men,” our own pop culture point of reference for immortal creatures who watch from the shadows throughout history with little purpose other than continue existing tends to be vampires, and Eternals touches on some of the same themes as other popular bloodsucker stories like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark, along with more navel-gazing fare like Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. How do you go about living forever, when forever can be so dull, heartbreaking, and frustrating? This has been exhaustively covered by vampire fiction.
A few of our Eternals are unsure how to best embrace immortality, and they fall into their own appropriate routines during their runtime. Some simply make the best of it, drifting until their time runs out; others try to achieve more. Even as Ikaris disconnects from humanity, Kingo uses his time to find fame in the vein of Rice’s Lestat de Lioncourt. Meanwhile, Druig becomes an exile overseeing a secret society he can manipulate.
Perhaps the most “on the nose” character of the bunch is Sprite (Lia McHugh), who has the physical appearance of a 12-year-old child but who is an old soul stuck in that physical form for what she assumes will be eternity, yearning to finally grow up much like the young Claudia in Interview with the Vampire.
Though our Eternals aren’t feeding off humanity in a literal way (Druig and Kingo’s bullshit is debatable) they have been coded as feeding off humanity culturally, and their memory banks are now chock-full of historic truths. They are in a unique position to be the kind of knowledge-bearers who were actually witness to some of our greatest triumphs and could help us learn from our worst mistakes, but we will never be their equals. Perhaps that’s for the best, as there is still an essential part of a relatable personality missing from their equation.
Let Forever Be
Given Eternals’ mixed reviews and relatively muted (well, by MCU standards) box office, we may never see a traditional sequel on the Marvel Studios slate. There are certainly plenty of ways to explore their journey in the future, but whether there will be an appetite for it remains to be seen.
It’s ironic that after ten major character introductions, an eleventh who only had a sliver of screen time stands the best chance of going on to appear in more MCU projects: Dane Whitman, who could potentially show up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Moon Knight, Werewolf By Night or Bassam Tariq’s forthcoming Blade reboot.