Marvel’s Eternals spends a lot of its runtime exploring the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — from its creation all the way up to the months that immediately followed the events of 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. In other words, it’s a film primarily focused on the past and the pivotal decisions made by its immortal heroes during its present-day story.
However, once the film’s flashbacks have all been unveiled and its central, apocalyptic threat has been defeated, Eternals aggressively shifts its focus towards the future — setting up several storylines and conflicts for its still-unannounced sequel to unravel.
Here’s what happens at the end of Eternals and what it all means for the future of Earth’s oldest protectors.
Major Eternals spoilers ahead.
Eternals ending: What happens?
At the end of Eternals, the film’s titular team celebrates their triumph over their Celestial leaders by splitting into two groups. Thena (Angelina Jolie), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), and Druig (Barry Keoghan) all take off in their ship to scour the universe looking for other Eternals who the Celestials may be taking advantage of. Meanwhile, Sersi (Gemma Chan), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), and a transformed Sprite (Lia McHugh) all stay behind on Earth.
In other words, for a few days, everything seems to have turned out alright for the Eternals. However, the film’s final moments see an angry Arishem arriving and forcibly pulling Sersi, Kingo, and Phastos into his hands. Remarking upon their decision to stop the birth of a new Celestial, Arishem vows to inspect the memories of all three Eternals and judge for himself whether or not they were right to save Earth.
With that, Arishem teleports away from Earth — taking Sersi, Kingo, and Phastos with him as he does. On Earth’s surface, Dane Whitman (Kit Harington) — who had been enjoying a nice date with Sersi before Arishem’s arrival — looks up at the stars, confused and angry over what he’s just seen.
But what does this all mean for Eternals 2?
Eternals ending: Arishem’s kidnapping sets up the sequel
In the comics, Arishem is known as “Arishem the Judge,” and — as his moniker suggests — he is one of the few Celestials bestowed with the right to judge which planets get to live and which must perish. His arrival and promise of judgment at the end of Eternals is, in a way, the moment when the film’s version of the character is the most reminiscent of his comics self.
But more than anything else, Arishem’s kidnapping of the Eternals essentially sets up the primary conflict of an Eternals sequel — assuming we end up getting one.
With their fellow Eternals in the captivity of their creator, one can presume that Eternals 2 will follow Thena, Makkari, and Druig as they attempt to save Sersi, Kingo, and Phastos from Arishem’s judgment. That would, in effect, mean that Eternals 2 will see its central team taking on a living, breathing, and fully sentient Celestial, rather than one that’s in the process of awakening for the first time.
Given how difficult it was for the Eternals to put Tiamut to sleep permanently, we can only imagine what it’ll take for them to best a Celestial like Arishem. Fortunately, they won’t have to take Arishem on alone, thanks to the arrival of one character in Eternals’ first post-credits scene.
Eternals ending could set up Black Panther 2
While Eternals’ ending seems to set up the plot of its sequel and nothing more, several ongoing rumors suggest that the events of the film’s third act may also tie into the story of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Those rumors remain unconfirmed for the time being, but the film’s climax does present one way in which its plot could set up the introduction and role of the Black Panther sequel’s rumored villain.
That is to say that, Tiamut’s partial awakening wreaks some serious havoc underwater. While Sersi succeeds in turning him into a glacier, the damage the Celestial’s initial birth has on the planet’s oceans seems fairly severe. And that’s notable, considering it’s long been rumored that the central villain of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be Namor the Sub-Mariner, aka the prince of Atlantis.
One can safely assume that the destruction Tiamut’s awakening causes in the ocean would likely anger someone like Namor, who takes the protection, secrecy, and safety of his underwater kingdom deadly seriously. So, if he does show up next year in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, don’t be surprised if the events of Eternals have something to do with his long-awaited emergence.
The Inverse Analysis — Eternals’ final 10 minutes do a lot to set up a plot for a potential sequel. By having half of the team be captured by Arishem and the other half embark on a mission across the stars, Eternals’ ending also effectively separates its titular team from Earth for the foreseeable future. That’s important to note considering just how powerful they are, and therefore, how helpful they could be in stopping any global threats that may emerge in the coming years.
Eternals’ ending not only sets up its sequel but also ensures that the franchise and (most of) its characters will, for the time being, remain separate from the rest of the MCU. If some rumors turn out to be accurate, the film’s conclusion may also directly set up several key plot points in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Talk about doing a lot in a short amount of time.
Eternals is now playing in theaters.