Hold On! Gimme A Sec

The Marvel and DC universes are shattered by the Eternals’ Superman and Batman references

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It’s no secret that Eternals has a large cast of characters, some of whom are expected, such as the top-billed Eternals, others who are hidden, and still others who are completely unexpected.

However, there are two superheroes in Eternals who go beyond “unexpected” to complete mind-numbing.


They aren’t seen in the movie, but they are mentioned by name, and it’s an absolutely outrageous bit of world-shattering. As if giving Richard Madden’s Ikaris eye lasers weren’t enough, writer-director Chloé Zhao went above and beyond.

[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Eternals.]

Batman and Superman???

(L-R): Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) and Karun (Harish Patel) in Eternals.

Not the biggest, but the two biggest DC Comics superheroes, Batman and Superman, are mentioned by characters in Eternals. This would imply that the Eternals are familiar with Batman and Superman as fictional characters.

When meeting Karun for the first time, the human character is referred to as Kingo’s valet. Another character quips, “Like Alfred?” referring to Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler. It’s not a clever audience joke; it’s just a conversation.

As if that weren’t enough, Sersi and Ikaris mention Superman in the same tone when they arrive at Phastos’ house, comparing Ikaris’ powers of flight and laser vision to those of the Man of Steel.

If Eternals is serious about this, we should expect that in a world where Captain America has been a legitimate superhero for decades and people like Iron Man, Thor, and Spider-Man have been zipping around since roughly 2008…

As if that weren’t enough, Sersi and Ikaris mention Superman in the same tone when they arrive at Phastos’ house, comparing Ikaris’ powers of flight and laser vision to those of the Man of Steel.

It’s not impossible, I’m just mad about it

Mr. Fantastic and the Thing in The Fantastic Four #10, Marvel Comics (1963).
“Phone call for you, Reed! It’s Lee and Kirby! They’d like you to go to their studio to work out a plot with ’em!”

In a world full of superheroes, Marvel Comics has a long history of making references to the existence of superhero comics. In 1963, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby began scribbling themselves into the pages of Fantastic Four on a regular basis. Since then, it’s been a little-known fact of Marvel Comics canon that a version of the publisher Marvel Comics exists in the Marvel Comics Universe, where it publishes legally licenced superhero stories.

Marvel Comics has never shied away from making sly references to the illustrious competition (nor, to be fair, has DC). But the idea of Batman or Superman comics appearing alongside issues of the Fantastic Four in the Marvel Comics Universe was never considered.

Blockbuster films don’t seem to mind, and Eternals isn’t the first Marvel film to make a reference to DC Comics in recent years. The award goes to Venom, released in 2018, for a scene in which Anne Weying discovers that a specific frequency of sound can harm Eddie Brock’s alien parasite.

“What, so, the sound is like his kryptonite?” she says, a word and concept originating in the Superman radio serial and appearing in comics for the first time 1949 — despite the fact that she could just as easily have said, “Sound is like his Achilles heel?”

Eternals, you have to be careful about this kind of thing!

I can buy the excuse that the creators of Eternals wanted to put a lampshade over the fact that Ikaris’ power set will remind at least some viewers of Superman by mentioning him. They’re holding a placating hand out to the audience by mentioning Man of Steel, as if to say, “Yeah, yeah, we know.” But these are only his abilities.”

But that explains nothing about the Batman reference. Even so, it opens up a huge can of worms. This is how orcs are attracted to restaurants. This is how fan theories about Cars and Wall-E coexisting in the same timeline emerge.

This is how I miss an entire scene of Eternals while repeatedly mouthing “what the fuck” behind my mask. This is how I get mentally spiraled out by the implications of the Superman and Batman film franchises existing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Is the Snap part of the DC Comics canon? What impact has the discovery of alien life had on the blockbuster superhero film industry? Has Carol Danvers ever been described as “a real-life Wonder Woman?”

I don’t need this stress in my life, man.

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