Guinness World Records says that the first superhero was "The Phantom" in a comic strip back in 1936. Followed shortly by Superman and Batman in the same decade, superheroes have been embedded into the DNA of American and international pop culture for more than 80 years.
In that time, the genre has developed foundational powersets for any comic universe on print and screen. While the ability to fly and incredible strength may be the first to come to mind, superspeed is right there with them as one of the most popular superpowers there is.
The big brands, Marvel and DC, both have introduced a variety of speedsters in their respective universes but none more famous than DC's Scarlett Speedster, The Flash.
Barry Allen is about as hot as he has ever been with The CW show The Flash approaching its eighth season, and the first teaser of the Warner Bros. film of the same name was released at DC FanDome 2021. But Flash is not the only quick-footed superhero making waves in the comic book movie world.
Marvel Studios' Eternals is less than a month away, and Academy Award-winning director Chloé Zhao is set to introduce ten new heroes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, each of which has unique and powerful abilities.
Naturally, one of those powersets features super speed. Here is how the MCU's newest speedster, Makkari, will differentiate from DC's fastest man alive.
Makkari: The Fastest Woman in the Universe
In a recent interview with Comicbook.com, Eternals producer Nate Moore discussed the powers of the ancient superhero team, namely, Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff, who is "the fastest woman in the universe:"
"In another gender swap, Lauren Ridloff plays Makkari, the fastest woman in the universe, who is so fast, in fact, that she breaks the sound barrier every time she uses her power, which actually doesn't affect her because she also happens to be deaf,"
Moore went on to talk about how the Eternals team worked to have Makkari stand apart from a very famous DC character who runs very fast:"
"Some of the characters do have powers you've seen before. We've talked about Makkari's super speed. Obviously, there's a very famous DC character who runs very fast. So, for us, it's how we express that visually in ways that are different. And again, we think the notion that each Eternal is powered by cosmic energy can be fun as a visual thing to play with."
Beyond the visual component, Makkari also has a utilitarian difference in her powers that "makes her a bit different than what you've seen before:"
"So, in this case, you see the cosmic energy particle surrounding her. You see sort of that leading edge of the sonic concussive blast that she can use in battle that makes her a bit different than what you've seen before."
Makkari is not the only Eternal aided by this cosmic energy, which seems to be a focal point of the team's powers in Eternals:
"And again, that motif of cosmic energy that sort of encases our heroes, you'll see in everyone else's powers."
Be on the lookout for more information about each Eternal's powers and abilities from producers, actors, and showrunners as Eternals approaches theaters on November 5, 2021.
The Powers You Know With an Eternals Twist
The speedster aesthetic has become one of the biggest fan-favorite visuals every time it appears in a big comic book movie. The competition for the best visualization of super speed really began in 2014, when fans saw three different iterations of live-action superspeed in the span of 12 months.
It all began in May 2014 when X-Men: Days of Future Past beat Marvel Studios to the punch by introducing the most famous Marvel speedster, Quicksilver. In a movie that is full of groundbreaking and widely acclaimed moments, "the Quicksilver scene" quickly became arguably one of the best in comic book movie history. Evan Peters had the opportunity to set the bar for what super speed looks like in contemporary superhero live-action.
The move was to freeze time around Quicksilver as he moves at a normal pace around the room, with unique and creative cues to show the power behind his speed. Setting the scene to Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle" gave it a flavor of charisma that would become a staple for the character, letting Quicksilver move for a moment in time.
Later that year, CW released a show called The Flash that has become a trademark DC property, celebrating its eighth season in November 2021. This series showed the fastest man alive bolting through Central City, leaving behind a streak of yellow energy in his path.
Using fast motion running and blurred surroundings made the audience feel this man was moving through time faster than anyone could see him. This was an effort at Barry Allen being able to get from A to B within just moments, as opposed to Fox's Quicksilver moving around at lightning speed within a singular moment.
And finally, another Quicksilver was introduced to the big screen when Marvel Studios took the joint character property to introduce its own in Pietro Maximoff in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Though just one title appearance before his death, this speedster took another unique approach to visualizing speed with a blast of blue light flashing through scenes, changing the course of everything around him. This was shown again (shockingly by Evan Peters) in Disney+'s WandaVision.
With two Quicksilvers in the mix, DC had to bulk up its roster and briefly introduce another Barry Allen in 2016's Batman v Superman and again in a more substantial role in 2017's Justice League. Ezra Miller's Flash had similar qualities to Evan Peter's Quicksilver from the Fox X-men run, moving through a singular moment to show the power of his speed within the blink of an eye. But this Flash left an electric residual to show the amount of energy and force he was creating with his speedy movements.
So, in eight seasons of television, seven feature films, and a variety of other outlets, The Flash and Quicksilver have owned the market for super-speed superheroes for nearly a decade, and there is plenty more to come. But in 2021, Eternals will enter a third name in this race with her own unique and powerful visual presence for speed.
Makkari, played by Lauren Ridloff, is dubbed "The Fastest Woman In The Universe," who uses her tremendous speed to scout other planets for the Eternals. Along with her ability to get from one place to another quickly, she also creates a sonic boom every time she takes off, leaving anyone in that wake affected, except for Makkari herself, being that she is the first deaf superhero introduced to major audiences on the big screen.
The ability to leave a powerful sonic boom behind the point left is enough to set Makkari apart from Flash and Quicksilver, but the differences do not stop there. Like the rest of the Eternals, Makkari uses cosmic energy to execute her powers. This energy seems to surround the feet of Makkari and propel her to these incredible speeds. The visual element of this cosmic energy is used throughout the Eternals team and will indicate the unique use of power for each one.
#Makkari's super speed Watch the new #Eternals promo: https://t.co/CKqnbAlpbx pic.twitter.com/XtcyjdQpSu
Beyond the powerful blast and cosmic accents, Makkari's super-speed is being visualized in an entirely new and cinematically different way than fans have ever seen before. The GIF that has been making the rounds from the Eternals trailer shows Ridloff's character hurling through the air as she makes incredible leaps and bounds to cover her ground. This visual draws inspiration from all speeds with blurred backgrounds, frantic body movements, and powerful consequences for her environment.
The leaping is new to the speedster genre, but Marvel fans may recognize this style of traversing from Hulk throughout the MCU. Like Makkari, the Incredible Hulk is able to leap major distances and leave behind residual wreckage.
This speed, along with that power element, makes Makkari one of the most unique speedsters yet and one that will surely elevate the bar for modern-day fast heroes in comic book movies moving forward.
Eternals hits theaters on November 5, 2021.