Marvel and Mythology: Who Are the Eternals Based On?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought its fair share of mythology to life already. The
In some cases, in
In most cases, the correlation between a mythological figure and an Eternal seems obvious. But in others, the connection reads murkier. Each Eternal’s mythological counterpart offers us clues about possible storylines and fates. This article examines the central figures from November’s
Eternals‘ Characters and Their Mythological Counterparts
Here is every
Makkari, a.k.a. Mercury / Ikaris, a.k.a. Icarus / Sersi, a.k.a. Circe / Thena, a.k.a. Athena / Ajak, a.k.a. Ajax / Ajak Also Relates to Quetzalcoatl / Gilgamesh , a.k.a. Gilgamesh / Kro, a.k.a. Cronus / Phastos, a.k.a. Hesphastus / Sprite, a.k.a. Puck and Other Fairies / Kingo Could Be Kingu /
Druig’s Counterpart May Lie In Slavic Mythology
Eternals’Makkari Is Based on Mercury from Roman Mythology
Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff, is based on Mercury from Roman mythology. Though Makkari has an Eternal’s standard immortality, the character also possesses superhuman speed. Makkari is the fastest Eternal in existence. Additionally, Makkari can think preternaturally fast, allowing her to read and process information rapidly.
This speedy boost makes much sense when it comes to Makkari’s mythological counterpart, Mercury. In Roman mythology, Mercury is the god of travelers and merchants. He is associated with Greek mythology’s Hermes, a god known for being fleet of foot. Hermes’ winged sandals are iconic. Mercury also acts as a bridge between gods and mortals, often serving as a mediator of sorts. Could Makkari be the person who unites the Eternals and the MCU’s more earthly heroes? Mythology says yes. Makkari’s quick thinking and vast array of knowledge will surely come in handy in this role.
Additionally, Mercury transports the souls of the dead to the underworld. We’re not sure how that could impact
Finally, Mercury and Hermes are both gods of tricksters, often mischievous themselves. We’ll have to watch out for Makkari pulling pranks.
Eternals’ Ikaris Is Based on Icarus from Greek Mythology
Ikaris, played by Richard Madden, is based on Icarus from Greek mythology. Icarus wasn’t a god but a figure of myth. In Greek mythology, Icarus is best-known for flying too close to the sun. But there’s more to him than that. Icarus was the son of a famous inventor, Daedalus, who built the labyrinth which housed the monstrous Minotaur of Crete.
Crete’s king didn’t want anyone to know how his maze worked, so he imprisoned Daedalus and Icarus in a tower. But the genius craftsman designed a way out. Daedalus built wings for himself and Icarus so they could escape. The catch? These wings were held together by wax. Famously, Daedalus warns Icarus not to fly too high nor too low. Too high and the wings would melt from the sun’s heat, too low, and the ocean would dampen the wings, rendering them useless.
Like some myths, this is a morality tale. It instructs listeners not to be too cocky nor complacent. Unfortunately, Icarus succumbs to hubris. He flies too close to the sun, his wings melt, and he falls to his death.
It is fitting, thus, that like Icarus, Ikaris is known to be an excellent flier. Ikaris can also levitate himself and others at speeds of 850 miles per hour. Interestingly, he can rearrange molecules of other substances. In a sense, this too fits because the pinnacle of Icarus’ story comes when the sun rearranges his wings’ molecules.
Having Icarus as a namesake is ominous for Ikaris. We hope he can balance his hubris and his humility to better effect. Perhaps this time, Icarus will fly at the right height. Or maybe he’ll repeat the mistakes of old…
Eternals’ Sersi Is Based on Circe from Greek Mythology
Sersi, played by Gemma Chan, is based on Circe from Greek mythology. In
In mythology, Circe’s story revolves less around kindness and love. Instead, Circe is a powerful sorceress. Through a combination of magic and drugs, she transforms humans into animals. When the hero Odysseus finds his way to her island, she turns his men into swine. But Odysseus, protected by a gift from Hermes (or is that Makkari?), remains immune. Odysseus challenges her to return his men. Circe does and, impressed by Odysseus, invites him to stay on her island. They spend a year together. So, in the end, love does enter the equation. It’s hard to say if Circe will live in
Eternals’ Thena Is Based on Athena from Greek Mythology
Thena, played by Angelina Jolie, is based on Greek mythology’s Athena. In the comics, Thena is the daughter of Zuras, leader of the Earth’s Eternals. Zuras and Thena resemble Athena and her father, Zeus. This means Thena is often mistaken for Athena, but they are not the same in the comics’ world.
In Greek mythology, Athena is the goddess of wisdom and war. She was born from Zeus’ skull and thus possesses boundless knowledge. Though she can be aggressive, she also rules over peace and hand-crafts. With Athena as a namesake, fans can expect
Eternals’ Ajak Is Based on Ajax from Greek Mythology
Ajak, played by Salma Hayek, is based on Ajax from Greek mythology. Ajax is also not a god but instead an exceptional human. Ajax’s strength and bravery earned him much renown. He is second only to mythology’s Achilles.
In the comics, Ajak is an archeologist (and male). This is a fun nod to the idea that Ajax is a popular figure from mythology in our world. He is also a wrestler, winking at the battle-tested fierceness of his namesake.
Eternals’ Ajak Is Also Related to Quetzalcoatl from Mesoamerican Mythology
Ajak also assumes the identity of the chief Mesoamerican god Quetzalcoatl in Marvel’s comics. Quetzalcoatl is often depicted as a mix of a bird and a rattlesnake. The god’s name comes from a combination of the “Nahuatl words
Among other things, Quetzalcoatl patrons learning, agriculture, science, and the arts. Additionally, he invented the calendar. So while Ajax offers brawn, Quetzalcoatl adds brains to the equation. A combination of things we’d love to see in Ajak.
Hopefully, the MCU’s
Eternals’ Gilgamesh Is Based on Gilgamesh from Sumerian Mythology (“The Epic of Gilgamesh”)
Gilgamesh, played by Ma Dong-seok, is based on Gilgamesh from Sumerian mythology. “The Epic of Gilgamesh” is an ancient poem from Mesopotamia. It was recorded in the Akkadian language and exists as one of the earliest pieces of literature in our records. The poem features the demi-god Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh, the king of the Mesopotamian city-state Uruk, is part mortal and part divine. Though he quests for immortality, he never obtains it. But obtains instead an understanding of the meaning of life.
The Epic of Gilgamesh tells a story of friendship. It pens the original bromance, as it were. When Gilgamesh becomes too arrogant, the gods create Enkidu as his rival. Enkidu represents the natural world, whereas Gilgamesh represents the order of society. The two initially fight but become friends. Though there’s no word of an epic bro for the
Eternals’ Kro Is Based on Cronus from Greek Mythology
Kro, whose actor remains unannounced, is based on Cronus from Greek mythology. Kro is not an Eternal but a Deviant. According to Marvel, Deviants are an “evolutionary offshoot of humanity which is cursed with an unstable genetic code causing random characteristics to crop up every generation.” In Kro’s case, at least in the comics, a combination of rare traits grants him an incredibly long life. In essence, Kro’s gift is time.
This is fitting because Cronus is linked with Chronus, the personification of time in philosophy and literature. “Chronos” is also the Greek word for time. And, over time, all these ideas have become virtually indistinguishable. Cronus also informs Kro, because like Kro, he is close to being a god but not a god. Kro is immortal and powerful like an Eternal, but he isn’t one. In myth, Cronus was a crucial part of the universe’s creation but is termed a titan, not a god. Eventually, Zeus overthrows Cronus and locks him away in Tartarus. Could this fate await Kro, too?
Eternals’Phastos Is Based on Hephaestus from Greek Mythology
Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry, is based on Hephaestus from Greek mythology. In mythology, Hephaestus is the god of the forge. And this makes a lot of sense because Phastos is a great inventor in the
Like his godly counterpart, Phastos moves humanity forward technologically, helping the world evolve.
Eternals’ Sprite Has a Loose Connection to Puck/Tricksters/Sprites from European Mythology
Sprite, played by Lia McHugh, has a more diffuse connection to mythology than other Eternals. There have been many sprites throughout European mythology. In their broadest definitions, they are elves or fairies. But often come kissed with mischief. One of the most famous fairies of this ilk is
Like the sprites of mythology,
Eternals’ Kingo Could Be Based on Kingu from Babylonian Mythology
It seems both Kingu and
Eternals’Druig Does Not Appear to Have a Counterpart (But Here Are Some Theories)
Druig, played by Barry Keoghan, does not have a clear counterpart in mythology. Although his name sounds like the word for friend in Russian, друг or “droog,” it appears Druig is anything but that. Druig will be a villain in the
This elemental connection may see his mythological origin in Druids. His name does resemble the word, after all. Druids are Celtic priests connected to the natural world. Though druids are often peaceful, in certain myths, they were seen more as sorcerers.
In the comics, Druig hails from the Slavic regions. However, none of the Slavic deities seem to align with him.
Mythology often informs our modern stories. Marvel’s upcoming