Eternally waiting

Eternals just missed a huge opportunity to introduce X-Men to the MCU

Deviating from the comics might be this movie’s worst mistake.

Eternals might be the first Marvel movie where you shouldn’t read the comics ahead of time. The new film changes Jack Kirby’s original story so drastically that it’s better to go in with zero information than try to understand these immortal superheroes by reviewing the source material. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but by changing their origin story, Eternals also squanders Marvel’s best chance so far to explain how the X-Men can join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

X-Men and the MCU

Professor X might be coming to the MCU in 2022.20th Century Fox

We know the X-Men are coming to the MCU, but we have no idea how. Currently, all signs point to a multiverse loophole; rumor has it Patrick Stewart’s Professor X will step into Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness fully formed. But what if there was an easier way?

What if the Mutant-creating X-gene had existed in the MCU all along, just waiting to be activated?

Marvel Comics actually revealed the origins of the X-gene back in 1980 in a story just ambiguous enough that you can interpret it however you like. Unfortunately, by changing the backstory of the Eternals, Marvel Studios removes that exact comic book story from MCU canon.

The origins of the Eternals

This 1980 comic reveals the origins of the Mutant gene.Marvel Comics

In the movie (spoiler alert!) the Eternals are synthetic beings created by the Celestials to protect intelligent life across the universe from the Deviants (I’m simplifying things here, but that’s the basic idea). However, the comics are quite different.

Originally, the Celestials created both Deviants and Eternals by tinkering with the genetics of ancient apes on Earth. The process created these rival super-powered races, but it also led to a third creation: mutants.

In a 1980 comic, we learn that when the Celestials came to Earth, they left a “latent gene” in the apes who would evolve to become humans. The word “Mutants” is never uttered, but the implication is clear: the X-gene was created by the Celestials at the same time they made Eternals and Deviants.

The Celestials creating Mutants?Marvel Comics
Warning: Not MCU canon.Marvel Comics

Mutants and Eternals

Unfortunately, that’s definitely not the case in the MCU. Eternals makes it clear the Celestials never mettled with human DNA. If anything, the movie’s near-apocalypse ending reveals the Celestials basically view humans as food, which means they’d have no reason to invest in our evolution into superheroes.

Of course, it’s still possible someone else could have implanted the X-gene in humans at some point in ancient MCU history. Then again, maybe it will be naturally occurring. Or maybe Marvel will just port its X-Men over from the 20th Century Fox universe.

Anything is possible, but thanks to Eternals, we can rule out what could have been a clever, comics-accurate option for bringing the X-Men into the MCU.

Eternals is now playing in theaters.