Eternals took Marvel Studios' reputation for legendary casting to a new level as director Chloe Zhao introduced an entire ensemble of Hollywood legends including Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayak, Kumail Nanjiani, and Richard Madden. Despite Gemma Chan's Sersi being the definitive star of the controversial flick, Madden's Ikaris was undeniably placed at the forefront of the marketing campaign.
Marvel and Disney's emphasis on Ikaris probably had a number of facts behind it. After the conclusion of Game of Thrones, Madden's stardom continues to be ever-growing as he remains a favorite for major roles like James Bond. Additionally, the Superman-esque nature of the hero opens the doors to plenty of crazy blockbuster action that is bound to sell tickets and toys, too.
Despite the popularity of both Richard Madden and Ikaris in the run-up to the release, the powerful Eternal met his demise at the climax of the movie. Overwhelmed with regret for trying to prevent his fellow heroes' plan to stop the emergence, Ikaris fulfilled his Greek namesake of the man who flew too close to the sun and met his end.
Did Ikaris Really Die In Eternals?
Is Ikaris dead? While many originally had some doubt whether Ikaris really died by flying straight through the sun, writer Kaz Firpo clears up the confusion shortly after the release. Kaz confirms in his article that Ikaris did commit suicide as he couldn't bear to face his family after his action.
But after being so integral to the first film, could Richard Madden's Ikaris return in Eternals 2 or another future Marvel project? If so, then there are three obvious ways the popular Eternal could come back.
The Eternals' name comes from their nature in that they are everlasting and immortal creations of the Celestials. When an Eternal falls in battle, they are resurrected by the Machine, artificial intelligence that serves the team.
While resurrection wasn't prevalent in Marvel Studios' adaptation of the Eternals, it could come into play in the potential sequel. After all, Gilgamesh died in battle with the Deviants in Eternals. It would be shocking if that had never happened before over the Eternals' thousands of years on Earth and other worlds.
Arishem's Ikaris 2.0
Eternals made clear that, despite the depth and emotions that these immortal heroes have, they are in some sense robots - created by Arishem the Judge to help life to evolve in different worlds to allow for new Celestials to emerge from them.
With Ikaris having been among Arishem's most powerful, strongest, and, up until the final moments, most loyal creations, perhaps the Celestial may simply build a second version of Richard Madden's hero.
Following the ending of Eternals, Arishem will seemingly return in the sequel to judge humanity to decide the fate of Earth. Since he will be doing this based on the memories of the Eternals, perhaps he may need to rebuild or resurrect Ikaris in some way to read and see his recollection of human history.
Alternatively, he may simply create a new Ikaris, devoid of emotion and the ability to love, to serve as something of a henchman moving forward to fight his battles and take on the other Eternals once again.
An Ikaris Variant
At first, the thought of an Ikaris Variant entering the MCU from another universe may sound a little implausible, but with the growing integration of the Multiverse, who knows what the future holds? After all, up until recently, nobody expected alternate realities to come into play in Tom Holland's Spider-Man trilogy as it did in No Way Home.
If Marvel Studios were to use the Multiverse to bring back Ikaris in the Eternals sequel, it's anyone's guess whether Richard Madden would reprise the role. On one hand, the studio could opt to cast another actor in the Variant role, but equally, Tom Hiddleston played multiple Lokis in his Disney+ series, so there's no reason Madden couldn't hold onto his Marvel role.
So How Will Ikaris Return?
After being a critical pillar of Eternals, it would be surprising if Chloe Zhao and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige didn't find some way to bring Richard Madden's Ikaris back for the sequel. Examining the options, the Multiverse Variant route seems somewhat unlikely, but there is precedent in the Eternals comics for the resurrection route, making that by far the probable cause of action.
Ultimately, Eternals 2 is probably still some time away as the first film has only just been released. And following the mixed reception to the movie, Zhao and Marvel Studios will need to take more time than ever to ensure fans connect better with the sequel.
Eternals is streaming now, exclusively on Disney+.