Ever since its initial announcement, a key part of the intrigue surrounding Eternals has stemmed from its star-studded heroic ensemble. From acting legends Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie to Game of Thrones stars Richard Madden and Kit Harrington, director Chloe Zhao has put together a stacked team.
Beyond the raw fame, Eternals has taken a big leap for representation in the MCU with what is an incredibly diverse cast by the usual standard of a Hollywood blockbuster. With characters and cast members from different genders, sexualities, races, faiths, and disability groups, the movie is truly a milestone.
Now that Eternals has hit theaters around the world, it's safe to say every fan has begun picking their own favorite immortal hero, and there's a wide range of opinions. One common choice is Silicon Valley actor Kumail Nanjiani's Kingo, the Deviant slayer-turned-Bollywood star who fuels much of the comedy in Zhao's flick.
Nanjiani has proven to be a rising star in recent years with roles in Stuber, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Eternals, but it seems he almost missed out on his heroic outing as he came close to appearing in another Marvel Studios project.
Kumail Nanjiani's Cancelled Guardians Role
During a recent interview with the My Mom's Basement podcast, Eternals writer Kaz Firpo revealed that prior to delays, they were unable to cast actor Kumail Nanjiani in the role of he was attached to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Firpo confirmed the team had envisioned Nanjiani as Kingo from the beginning, however, they were told to look elsewhere as he already had a role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and "James Gunn [had] already written him into it:"
"We basically pitched the producers right from the beginning: 'this has got to be Kumail.' And they were like 'it can't be because he's got a role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. James Gunn has already written him into it, so he can't do Eternals."
Fortunately for Eternals, the sci-fi sequel suffered a major delay prior to the pandemic due to James Gunn's firing, which was the supposed reason Nanjiani's schedule freed up and opened the doors to his casting as Kingo:
"And then, as you may know, Guardians had some little kerfuffle, and the movie got delayed like a year and a half and then the pandemic happened. I don't know what that role was going to be, but I really think that it couldn't have gone better for him. His schedule freed up and then Marvel was like 'yeah, you know, I think we could probably go out to him,' and the rest is history. I mean he just got leading man ripped, and he's also just hysterical."
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 director James Gunn addressed Firpo's comments, confirming he had only "written a cameo for [his] friend" and naturally he would rather see him take on a primary role in Eternals. Although, Gunn denied the changes had anything to do with the schedule shifts:
"From my POV I had written a cameo for my friend [Kumail Nanjiani] in [Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3]. When Kevin Feige called me & said they had a primary role for Kumail in [Eternals] I said of course I’d rather see him do that than my bit. I don’t remember it having anything to do with the schedule change."
Could Kingo Meet the Guardians?
Now that Kumail Nanjiani has joined the MCU and the Eternals have stepped back into the wider world, the doors are open to Kingo and the other immortal heroes eventually appearing alongside other characters in the years to come.
With Eternals and Guardians of the Galaxy being two of the MCU's few cosmic franchises, it wouldn't be awfully shocking if the teams were to cross paths in the years to come. While both will likely be featured in whatever the next big crossover epic ends up being, there'll be plenty of opportunity before then for smaller appearances in other projects.
In terms of Kumail Nanjiani's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 cameo, the chances of that seeing the light of day are low, but far from impossible. If the role is indeed as small as Gunn described, there's no reason some good CGI or costume work couldn't be used to disguise Nanjiani's Guardians character from Kingo the Eternal.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is now in production for a May 5, 2023 release, meaning fans should prepare themselves for more casting announcements in the months and weeks to come.