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We have seen the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, post-Eternals, and it is bright... and just a little weird, but in a really good way. SYFY WIRE spoke with two of the movie's screenwriters, Kaz and Ryan Firpo, and learned a ton about how the film's mid and post-credits stingers lay the groundwork for more adventures on the cosmic side of the MCU.
"The infamous — or let's say notorious — Marvel codas, which is just such a beautiful part of the process. It's like a reward for fans," Kaz said, revealing that he and Ryan "wrote about half a dozen different end codas." One of them had to be scrapped because it was already being used for Michael Waldron's Loki series at Disney+ (all six episodes are now streaming). There was no bad blood between them, though.
***WARNING! The following contains major spoilers for Eternals!***
"I think that's one of the fun things, is that you're in a constant conversation," Kaz added. "Stacy Osei-Kuffour is running Blade [and] she's contributing little bits and pieces. So, the mid-credits sequence — from the earliest stages — we always knew you can't kill a space god without some ramifications. We always knew that if we're go somewhere, do something next, we're gonna send some Eternals into space and the other Eternals...well, they might have to grapple with the consequences of killing a space god."
Having prevented the birth of a new Celestial, Sersi (Gemma Chan) and the other Eternals who have opted to remain on Earth are snatched up by a very displeased Arishem (voiced by David Kaye). The angry god promises to spare humanity pending further judgement. Meanwhile, Druig (Barry Keoghan), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), and Thena (Angelina Jolie) head out into space with the intention of searching the cosmos for others like them when they're visited by a handsome Eternal by the name of Eros (Harry Styles) and his booze-happy companion, Pip the Troll (Patton Oswalt).
Eros, aka Starfox, is the brother of Thanos and he knows where Arishem is keeping the others under lock and key. "That was somebody from the beginning we knew would be a lot of fun and we knew he would just light a little firecracker and send us off in some new door," Kaz said. "He would open a big door that I think some people would want to step through."
Styles, who is a former member of the boy band One Direction, was the perfect person to cast as the charming Starman from Titan, who, in another era, could have been played by the late Ziggy Stardust.
"His superpower is that he can make anyone fall in love with him instantly. That's a rock star. Eros is literally a space rock star," Kaz said. "That list is short of who that space rock star could be. Maybe we could get David Bowie to come back, but beyond that, I think it had to be Harry and I think that was a brilliant piece of casting. Plus, I just think he's been having a really interesting career — from Dunkirk onwards ... And I can just tell you, he's gonna have the most fun going off into space in the next one."
Hold on just a second there. "The next one"? Did Kaz just confirm Eternals 2?
"I think that's up to the audience," the screenwriter hedged. "Go see this movie in the biggest possible theater this week. It deserves that experience, but I think Ryan has a great metaphor for how Marvel works toward what comes next."
"I think that Kevin and everybody at Marvel are just brilliant filmmakers, they're brilliant storytellers, and they're brilliant industry magnates," Ryan explained. "They're sitting there playing chess and when you're a great chess player, your objective is to checkmate the opponent. But you don't know at the beginning exactly how you're gonna do that, so it's all about moving the pieces [in a way where] you have multiple paths to victory and that's what they're really good at doing. What they've done here with Eternals is created multiple doorways we can go through and which ones we choose will be dictated by a lot of other variables."
When the Eternals do come back, Kaz and Ryan have some ideas on who they should meet.
"Everything that Tom is doing with Loki right now is such a blast," Kaz said, speaking from the vantage point of a pure Marvel fan. "I think they should go and meet Mobius and hang out somewhere and maybe go on a jet-ski ride."
"I would love to see them team up with the Guardians and the new Guardians, meaning a little bit of Thor in there, too, and see them interact in that world," Ryan continued. "There are also some other Eternals that I would love to see brought into the fold. They're characters we entertained putting in this one, but then ultimately didn't, so it'd be great to see them get their day in the sun moving forward."
Speaking of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Eros and Pip show up to Foreigner's "Feels Like the First Time," hinting at the classic hits corner of the MCU carved out by writer-director James Gunn. Could we be perhaps see a team-up in Vol. 3?
"The MCU is so big now and it covers so much ground, narratively and literally, that every different little corner has its own little language," Ryan said. "I think that James Gunn and Taika [Waititi] have really established this language for the cosmos and so, we're kind of entering into that space. That's why it takes on that tone because you're getting into that world."
Whatever the case, Eros and Pip are exciting new additions to the canon, with Oswalt's character holding a special place in the Firpos' hearts. Back in 2017, Oswalt announced the duo as the winners of the 2017 Black List for their screenplay entitled Ruin (the story of a former Nazi captain tracking down the members of his SS death squad in aftermath of World War II).
"It was him in a bathrobe on Twitter announcing that we were at the top of the Black List and that was really the moment that our lives changed," Kaz recalled. "That script is what got us that meeting with Kevin [Feige] and Nate [Moore] and opened the door at Marvel. I'm not even sure Patton knows this, but I hope he finds out that circuitously, he opened the door for us and that's the one who's warping into our universe at the end of the movie. That's some cosmic happenstance."
Eternals' second end credits scene is devoted to Dane Whitman (Kit Harington), who plans to save Sersi — his longtime girlfriend — by wielding the Ebony Blade in order to become his comic book counterpart known as Black Knight. Just before he can do that, however, he's stopped by a voice belonging to Mahershala Ali's Blade.
Kaz stated that this moment "came later" in the creative process, which involved screenplay rewrites from director Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and Patrick Burleigh (Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway). "I think Chloé's been out there, dropping bombs about Mahershala Ali and Blade, but I think that we're gonna get to see the Daywalker," he said. "The idea is that essentially, we're gonna see some guys with swords teaming up to kill some other bad guys, too."
As for the remainder of those "half a dozen" stingers the Firpos originally pitched for Eternals, Kaz admits some did involve "more familiar characters in the MCU." He didn't go into specifics during our call, but did tell The Wrap that Anthony Mackie's Captain America was among those considered. In the end, though, they decided "to open doors that go outwards, rather than doors that go back to familiar places."
"In the long run, it was really about saying, 'What is this next saga about? Where do we go next? And who do we get introduce?' Rather than, 'Oh yeah! Remember them?'" Kaz told us. "I think in the story chronology of the cinematic universe, the original Avengers are pretty busy. Tony... RIP. Cap's gone, he's retired; also, RIP to Natasha; and Hulk seems kind of busy trying to make himself not smart-Hulk and just be a normal Bruce Banner again. So, it makes sense to introduce some people that were new."
There are also several shifting dynamics to take into account moving forward. For example, who is more powerful: Arishem or the Time Variance Authority? Does a literal deity who creates life across the universe pale in comparison to an organization that uses Infinity Stones as paper weights? That's a question the MCU will have to answer someday soon.
"I don't think that Waldron and us were in a fisticuffs to say that the Time Variance Authority and He Who Remains are gonna kick the ass of Arishem," Kaz joked. "But that's one of the beautiful things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You have a bunch of artists who really love what they do. There's no secret sauce, there's no algorithm computer that makes good movies. It's just that they hire people that love what they do and then let them do interesting and original work."
He concluded: "For this, it's always a constant conversation. You're sort of saying, 'Maybe we're stronger, maybe this is gonna happen.' The MCU is like a beautiful mug. This is the mug, you can do whatever you want, you can add whatever you want as long as it doesn't affect the integrity of the mug. I think that's how they approach these things. It's always about adding, collaborating, structurally moving forward rather than saying, 'OK, well everything you just did for six amazing episodes of television, we're not gonna discount that and take it apart.' Everything should work in harmony."
Ryan compared it to scientists making new discoveries all the time in our reality. "It's an evolving conversation between scientists making new discoveries, having debates, relearning something, altering their ideas about what they thought something was," he finished. "And I think that is the MCU. It's a living kind of science in a way that's an evolving, unfolding thing that's based on all these different scientists running their own experiments and making their own discoveries that then influence each other."
Eternals is now playing in theaters everywhere.