Marvel Studios' Eternals welcomes ten new superpowered heroes into the ever-expansive MCU. As ancient and immortal beings, each Eternal has the same number of years under their belt but not all look the same age.
That comes most prevalently with Lia McHugh's Sprite. Similar to the goddess Artemis from Greek mythology, Sprite appears as a young girl rather than a grown woman.
Acting opposite an ensemble of adults can be intimidating, but it's nothing new for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The likes of Elijah Richardson's Eli Bradley and Julian Hilliard's Billy Maximoff held their own in scenes with bonafide A-list Marvel talent in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision, respectively.
Lucky for McHugh, any nerves she had about entering this massive franchise were quenched by Marvel's resident young hero.
Lia McHugh Shares Tom Holland's Words of Encouragement
They don't call him a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man for nothing.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Direct's Liam Crowley, Eternals actress Lia McHugh recalled a conversation with Tom Holland at 2019's D23 Expo that made her "feel really good" about her Marvel future:
"I was actually talking to [Marvel President] Kevin Feige and I saw Tom Holland, and I, I just couldn't stop looking at him. I mean, who doesn't love Tom Holland? And Kevin was like, ‘Do you want me to introduce you to him?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, please! Yes, please!’ And he was just like the sweetest guy. Oh my gosh. He was more excited, almost more than I was. He's like, ‘You have no idea how incredible this experience is going to be. Like, I'm so excited for you.’ He just really made me, it just made me feel really good. And I think later in the day, he came up to me again and he was like, ‘Oh, I just like, you have no idea how this, what this is going to bring.'"
Despite her character being thousands of years old while Holland's Peter Parker is still in high school, McHugh joked that she's now "one-upped" him as the youngest MCU hero:
"It's actually funny. I sort of one-upped him in being the youngest Marvel superhero now. He's sort of new. I mean, he's not super new, but he was one of the newest characters introduced in the MCU."
McHugh also noted that Holland "didn't think he was going to be famous" due to his youth, which has been proven false by the wild success of the Spider-Man franchise and his upcoming starring role in Sony's Uncharted film.
Knowing the trajectory Marvel Studios set his career on, Holland doubled down on his words of encouragement to McHugh, advising her to "expect really big things" on the way:
"I think, I think Kevin or someone might've told me that Tom didn't think he was going to be famous. He's like, ‘Oh, I'm just, I'm not going to be anyone big. Like this is, you know, I'm just like a kid, you know, how could I be like this big Marvel superhero that everyone loves?’ And, um, he said, well, I think Tom told me that. And then he's like, ‘Expect, like, really big things in your career coming.’ So it was really exciting."
The Young Avengers Stick Together
As Phase 4 shifts into full gear, Holland stands out as one of the most tenured active Marvel heroes, but it's easy to forget he only began a mere five years ago.
Since his debut in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, Holland has gone on to star in two of the top five highest-grossing films of all time, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, while also leading two Spider-Man films of his own. In just half a decade, the MCU's Peter Parker has accomplished a lifetime of career goals.
Seeing that he was cast as Peter Parker at 19 years old, Holland knows how rapidly life can flip upside down after joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. McHugh stands today where Holland was five years ago, and if her trajectory is anything like the wall-crawler's, she's in for quite the journey.
While Holland's Civil War debut came with the knowledge that a solo Spider-Man film was already in development, the future of McHugh's Sprite remains unknown. A return in a potential Eternals sequel seems likely, but outside of that franchise, there's no telling where Marvel's newest illusionist could show face next.
For now, fans can see McHugh in Eternals when it hits theaters on November 5, 2021.