For all of their existence, the Eternals served as the inspiration for much of Earth’s mythology, but now that aspect has been retconned out.

Spoilers for The Eternals #1 ahead!

The Eternals are making their big-screen debut later this year, but they have been around for almost 45 years, and have existed in the Marvel universe for much, much longer. The Eternals (and their nefarious counterparts the Deviants) have inspired many myths and legends on Earth, but now that has been seemingly retconned out in the first issue of The Eternals‘ latest series, written by Kieron Gillen, with art by Esad Ribic and colors by Matthew Wilson.

The Eternals made their debut in the first issue of their own book in 1976. Created by the legendary Jack “King” Kirby, the Eternals were a race of humans with fantastic powers thanks to genetic manipulation on humanity’s ancestors by the Celestials millions of years ago. These Eternals would go on to inspire numerous legends and myths. For instance, Gligamesh, from the ancient Sumerian legend, was an Eternal called “The Forgotten One.” Makkari, a speedster, influenced the legend of the Greek god Hermes, or Mercury. These influences were confirmed in Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr’s Eternals mini-series from the mid-2000s, but now, in the first issue of their new ongoing books, this seems to no longer be the case.

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Living up to their name, the Eternals are immortal, and when they die, they can be resurrected, sort of like the X-Men’s Resurrection Protocols. After the Eternal Ikaris dies and is reborn, he meets up with Sprite, another Eternal who was also recently revived. The two decide to go to Earth, and meet up with Iron Man. After the brief encounter, the two discuss Iron Man, eventually leading to Ikaris declaring he is not “the mythological Icarus,” He adds that the fact that humanity keeps mistaking the Eternals for gods, annoys the real gods very much. Sprite chalks it up to humans being “overliteral.”

This development seems a bit odd at first, seeing as how the Eternals being the ones who inspired mythology was a huge part of their identity. Removing that can potentially cheapen the characters and make them simply more costumed heroes. Kirby never intended for the Eternals to interact with the Marvel Universe—they only did because of editorial mandates. The Eternals inspired the stories of gods and goddesses, but in the Marvel Universe, those gods really exist—there was no need for the Eternals to inspire anything. Perhaps this is a way at better reconciling their existence in the Marvel Universe?

Whatever the case, Marvel is now downplaying the Eternals’ connection to Earth’s mythology. In many ways it reduces the characters’ stature, which seems odd as they are heading to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But for now, The Eternals new, ungodly status remains.

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