After Marvel Studios' short hiatus following the season finale of What If...?, attention will shift to the theatrical release of Chloé Zhao's Eternals in early November 2021. While the MCU is just beginning to tackle its overarching narrative after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Eternals has a chance to span thousands of years of history thanks to the central heroes' immortality.
The promotional material and reporting on the movie have both teased numerous periods of human history that the plot will explore, although the core story seems to take place after Endgame according to the second full trailer. Additionally, the first trailer from late May showed the team first arriving on Earth close to 7000 years in the past, opening the door for millennia of history to come to the big screen.
The big question with regard to this movie's timeframe is how many eras of history will actually be explored as the Eternals find their way on Earth and unite as a team against the Deviants. Helping give an answer to this question, recently released press material for the film is providing clarity on what fans can expect.
The Time Periods In Marvel's Eternals
A recent Eternals press release from Disney provided more details on when the upcoming Marvel Studios movie takes place in the MCU timeline.
According to the official release, the plot explores "two time periods" following two separate "storylines," one that features the Eternals operating as "as a formidable team and a close family unit" in the past and another that shows them separated and fractured. Interweaving between their early days as a team and the present day that sees them more fractured, the "prevailing threat of the Deviants" will force the superhero squad to come together for the greater good:
"The story takes place across two time periods. One storyline is set in the past when they operated as a formidable team and a close family unit. The second storyline is in the present, when the group has fractured and split apart, content to live among humans, hiding in plain sight. The prevailing threat of the Deviants, which once again threatens the existence of mankind, means the Eternals need to put their differences aside and regroup."
Marvel executive producer Nate Moore explained how Marvel wanted to have viewers explore "a corner of the Marvel universe" that hasn't been explored before. He touched on the "mythology" that makes for "a challenging sci-fi movie" but also touches on the human side of it, giving fans a group of characters that are more relatable than usual:
“We want audiences to discover a corner of the Marvel universe they’ve never seen before. We want them to discover a mythology that is a challenging sci-fi movie but also has a human heart. And we want them to meet ten heroes who they hopefully can relate to.”
A Clearer Picture For Marvel's Eternals
Through this report, it's now clear that Eternals will focus on both the team's early days on Earth and the undisclosed catastrophic event shortly after Avengers: Endgame. With a runtime that reportedly exceeds that of Avengers: Infinity War, Chloé Zhao should have ample opportunity to give plenty of depth to each unique time period as the plot comes together.
While it's still a mystery exactly how long will be spent in each time period or how they will cut back and forth between one another, this news seems to indicate that almost the entire plot will use these eras as a focus, possibly with short cuts to years in between them as well.
Through this timeframe, Marvel is intent on giving fans a dimension of the MCU that hasn't seen the light of day before. Just as Phase 4 has already done with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the MCU's next round will take that ambition to new levels with the franchise's race of immortal beings.
Eternals will debut in theaters on November 5, 2021.