Marvel Studios’ Eternals is now playing in theaters and it acknowledged the DC universe for the first time in MCU history. And it wasn’t subtle.
When Phastos’ son, Jack, met Richard Madden’s Ikaris - a flying, laser-eyed, overpowered humanoid - he initially mistook him for Superman. Jack insisted that Ikaris wore a cape and shot laser beams from his eyes, to which Ikaris replied that he doesn’t wear a cape.
So why would Jack recognize Richard Madden’s Ikaris if he had never actually seen him before? How did Jack know that Ikaris could shoot lasers from his eyes if he had actually only ever seen Superman do that?
Maybe it’s because Ikaris and Superman look-alike in the MCU.
Does Zack Snyder’s Superman Exist in the MCU?
After seeing Marvel Studios’ Eternals, its Superman name-drop seems to indicate that DC Comics are the brand that people in the MCU read as their world’s fictional superheroes. So the MCU basically knows the DC heroes in the same way that we do in real life.
It’s only fair to believe that a ten-year-old could mistake Richard Madden for another devilishly handsome European who plays a laser-eyed alien on TV, like Henry Cavill when he played Superman in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel and Justice League.
And since Ikaris was indeed never shown wearing a cape in Eternals, Phastos’ son Jack must have had the "real" Superman in mind when he said he saw him on TV.
Eternals Director Inspired by Zack Snyder
What’s interesting about this is that Eternals director Chloe Zhao has admitted that “Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel … inspired (her) the most” when piecing together Richard Madden’s Ikaris for the new Marvel film. She even went as far as to say that Superman is meant to resemble a fictional iteration of Ikaris within the MCU.
Chloe Zhao seems to be all aboard the Zack Snyder train with her sentiments on what he brought to the table for his DC films. Because of this, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that, if a Superman film did exist within Eternals and the greater MCU, it would be Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel starring Henry Cavill.
And if that’s the case, then when present-day takes place in 2024 in Chloe Show’s new Marvel movie, that means Zack Snyder’s Justice League would also exist within the MCU.
This would mean that Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel would have appeared on TV for more than a decade and served as the main Superman model that Phastos’ son Jack would have grown up knowing.
DC Crossover on the MCU’s Horizon?
The possible existence of real DC films within the MCU offers both exciting and confusing implications.
This gets interesting when considering that most Earth settings in DC Comics are fictional, such as Metropolis, Gotham, and Star City, while Marvel’s locations are largely real places like New York City (with some exceptions, obviously).
So, having DC Comics be Marvel’s own fictional world within the MCU would actually be completely practical, since most characters in DC lore reside in fictional places and wouldn't be expected to be seen in many MCU locations.
The existence of DC Comics within the MCU adds just the right amount of familiarity for a Marvel/DC crossover to actually make sense someday. If people in the MCU know who DC characters are, then they’ll recognize them when a potential crossover event would take place, since the MCU knows them from the DC comics they read and the DC movies they watch.
Chloe Zhao has been quoted saying Eternals is meant to be a tribute to the superhero genre. It would be very cool if this tribute to superheroes is truly what opens the door to the greatest superhero crossover in history.
Marvel Studios' Eternals is now playing in theaters.