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Who is Harry Styles playing in the MCU?
Marvel’s latest addition will make the Eternals family even more dysfunctional.
***SPOILER ALERT: Do not read further if you have yet to see Eternals.***
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is overflowing with all kinds of new lore thanks to the recently released Eternals. Ikaris, Thena, Sersi, and the rest of the gang now stand proudly next to Wanda Maximoff and Carol Danvers, but the chaotic Eternals family brought an unexpected character from Marvel Comics along with them.
One of two requisite post-credits scenes for Eternals (directed by Chloé Zhao) revealed a previously unseen Eternal. They are new to the MCU, but they are definitely not new to Marvel Comics. Singer and feather boa enthusiast Harry Styles plays the part, so everyone is paying attention.
***WARNING: Spoilers will follow for Eternals. If you haven't seen the movie yet and do not want to be spoiled, then turn your big triangle ship around.***
Styles plays Eros, sometimes known as Starfox, and he sauntered onto the Eternals' ship during the credits. Accompanied by a troll named Pip (Patton Oswalt), Eros wasted no time in offering his help. Should he be trusted? What might we expect from him? We’re glad you asked.
Created by Jim Starlin, the first appearance of Eros was in The Invincible Iron Man #55 in 1973. He was the son of the Titanian Eternal Mentor (A’Lars) and the Earth Eternal Sui-San. His birth name was Eron, but he was renamed “Eros” when he showed interest in the opposite sex at five years old.
In the film, he announces that he is the brother of Thanos. This is true in the comics also; his brother was none other than the Mad Titan himself. When Space Grimace launched an attack on Titan (causing the death of Sui-San), Eros joined with the Avengers and Mar-Vell to fight him. He left Titan after this, and roamed the galaxy looking for love and sex. His main Eternals power is the ability to stimulate pleasure in others; he is formidable in the act of seduction.
He returned to Titan for the death of Mar-Vell, and then went about seeking a planet that would be good for him. Wouldn’t you know it? He chose Earth, and the Avengers admitted him to their team and dubbed him “Starfox.” He was in the mix when Thanos gathered the Infinity Gems (alongside Nebula), but when that was over he went back to his life of travel and sexcapades.
He returned to Earth off and on and helped out the Avengers when he felt like it. One memorable visit found him being put on trial for sexual assault, which happened in a run of She-Hulk comics (#5-#13) in 2005. Jennifer “She-Hulk” Walters represented him, only to realize that he was using his powers on the jury and had likely used them on her in an earlier encounter. She-Hulk ends up beating the crap out of him and taping his mouth shut.
It wasn’t over, because Eros/Starfox got sent back to Titan and the trial went on. Thanos himself stepped up and declared that Eros was the reason that he was infatuated with Death; in the comics, Thanos assembles the Infinity Gauntlet (and gems) to impress Death herself, not because he has a wish to bring order to the galaxy. If Eros actually did this, then he's be responsible for every awful thing that Thanos had done.
Thankfully, this wasn’t true. Instead, Thanos had implanted a false memory into Eros, but this did cause extreme mental imbalance. To ensure that something like this did not happen again, Eros had these particular abilities of his shut down. At the moment, Eros/Starfox is dead... at least in the comics. After much ado with the Dark Guardians and Nova, Gamora killed him on Knowhere so she could prevent the resurrection of Thanos.
Like all Eternals in the comics, Eros can manipulate cosmic energy. Because Eros is the son of an Earth Eternal and a Titanian Eternal, his powers are stronger than any regular Joe Eternal. Intellect, strength, and speed are all on his D&D character sheet, as is teleportation and flight. What sets him apart is his psionic seduction skillset. Though he almost always fought against his brother Thanos, Quasar #59 depicted an interesting ritual between the two. Every Eternal year (which is one thousand human years) the two brothers have what is called “The Truce" and meet up in a neutral location. They give gifts to each other and remember that family is the most important thing of all. Dom Toretto would be proud of them.
If all of that doesn’t have the making of a problematic hero, then what does? He’s not a bad guy, but if the MCU uses even a touch of what he pulls in the comics, then he'll complicate everything. Thanos is gone from the MCU, but Kang the Conqueror is just ramping up, and Eros has gone up against him plenty of times.
Despite some protests from fans on the internet, it makes sense why Marvel cast Harry Styles in the role. Speaking with Deadline, Zhao said that Styles as Eros was "very much a package deal" for her. She said that she pitched Eros (and Pip the Troll) to Kevin Feige some time ago, adding, "I love the idea of exploring an Eternal who is beyond Titan and who may have influenced Thanos throughout the years the same way Eternals influenced us earthlings.”
She went about looking for actors, and said, "I kept tabs on Harry since Dunkirk, I thought he was very interesting. After meeting him. I realized he is that character — the same way I cast the rest of my cast. There’s so much of Eros in him. For me, if he says yes, and Kevin says yes, then it’s a go. And I’m very happy they both did.”
Based on this, the MCU could end up revealing that Eros manipulated at least some of Thanos' actions. Before we find that out, though, Thena (Angelina Jolie), Druig (Barry Keoghan), and Makkari (Lauren Ridloff) have to rescue Sersi (Gemma Chan), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), and Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani). If this Eternal seducer from TItan can help them (and he seems to think that he can), then they're not in a position to turn him down.
Aside from appearing in an Eternals sequel, where else might we see this character? It may take some time, but Tatiana Maslany is going to debut as She-Hulk next year. Marvel Studios may likely avoid adapting the sexual assault story, but maybe they'll find another way to depict the She-Hulk/Eros beatdown. We really want to see Maslany knock Harry Styles into the pavement. Since Thanos is dusted, the odds of seeing "The Truce" aren't good, but there are always flashbacks. One of these could show that the entire idea for the snap was implanted in Thanos by Eros. Harry Styles being responsible for the five-year blip would definitely be a choice.
Eros is the brother of the MCU's biggest bad, and he's definitely no prince. He'll likely multiply the considerable dysfunction in the Eternals family by a factor of ten. He may be a help, and he may be a hindrance. Either way, he'll probably be fun to watch.
Eternals is in theaters now.