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Eternals' Villain Twists Explained | Screen Rant

Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Eternals.

Eternals’ big villain twists explained. The latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe set up an intriguing story that saw several antagonists emerge to tangle with the Eternals — one of them a member of the team, a personal betrayal that changes the trajectory of the story and character dynamics.

Eternals follows the titular heroes in their quest to protect Earth from the Deviants, their villainous counterparts who were also created by the Celestials, cosmic beings who look like giant robots. After 7,000 years on the planet, the Eternals learn through Arishem, the Celestial who created them, that their true purpose is to ensure the Emergence, the birth of a Celestial growing beneath the surface. This revelation creates plenty of discord within the group, leading to some major shifts in the status of the team and the Eternals’ alliances.

Related: Eternals' 12 Biggest Spoilers

While the mid-credits and post-credits scenes in Eternals look forward to what comes next in the MCU’s overarching story, the film has quite a few twists and turns when it comes to the villains, who are not always as clear-cut as in other superhero films. Here is every villain twist, the Celestials’ true intent, and what ultimately led Ikaris to turn against his fellow Eternals.

Eternals’ promotional material firmly pitted the eponymous heroes against the Deviants, their villainous counterparts. However, the film reveals that the Deviants aren’t really the Eternals; biggest problem. In fact, the cosmic creatures were sent to Earth before the Eternals; essentially, they were tasked with the same goal, which was to get rid of predators to allow humanity to evolve and grow their population. When Sersi takes over as leader from the deceased Ajak, Arishem reveals the truth: a Celestial cell is embedded within a planet and the Emergence occurs when the Celestial (Tiamut in this case) is ready to rise from its confines, feeding off of the energy of Earth’s population — now over a whopping seven billion — before consuming the planet altogether.

Arishem explained that Tiamut (who never fully emerged) and other Celestials used the energy from a planet’s destruction to continue creating worlds. That’s how the universe stayed intact, constantly making and remaking itself through kinetic transfer. The Eternals were essentially pawns in the grander scheme of things, forced to protect and look after the intelligent beings of the planet so that it can be destroyed by the Celestials. Ultimately, Arishem is the villain in the Eternals’ eyes because he lied to them, erased their identities, and took away their free will, programming them to serve him and the mission of the Emergence.

While Arishem is the primary villain for the Eternals, it is Ikaris’ betrayal of his teammates that hits the hardest. For the centuries the group has been on Earth, Ikaris was admired, loved, and a natural leader to them after Ajak. Unlike Ajak and Sersi, however, he did not have the same adoration for humans and grew resentful of the fact that he knew about the Emergence. What’s more, Ikaris didn’t see the Emergence as wrong, but a natural state of things. He was greatly loyal to Arishem and struggled to break from what he was programmed to do, believing it was his duty to make sure the plan went as intended from the start. If that meant killing his fellow Eternals to ensure Tiamut’s emergence happened and the Earth destroyed in the process, then so be it.

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It’s why Ikaris killed Ajak, who began to have doubts about the Emergence after growing fond of humans. Ikaris went along with Sersi’s plan to unite the Eternals, believing they would be distracted with hunting the Deviants, who had returned to the surface, now more evolved. When he realized they were truly serious about stopping Tiamut’s rise, that’s when Ikaris fully turned against them in a desperate bid to stop them. To some extent, Ikaris remained a sympathetic figure because he thought, with so much conviction, that he was doing the right thing all along — doing what was always planned. It’s unlikely he predicted his actions centuries before, but his choices do showcase how powerful Arishem’s programming and design really is.

Sprite was in love with Ikaris all along and envious of her fellow Eternals who, like Sersi and Phastos, could blend in with and live among humans without too much suspicion. Sprite looked like a kid and had not evolved for seven millennia, so she felt left out and lonely because she couldn’t live a normal life. She was essentially Tinkerbell, somewhat of an outsider looking in. And so the loss of Earth wasn’t much of an issue for her; she could simply go to another planet afterwards in the hopes of starting over. All of these things, combined with her unrequited love for Ikaris, is why she joins the Eternal in his plan to make sure the Emergence occurred.

While Kingo had a deep fondness for Ikaris, he also knew that he couldn’t beat him. However, Kingo was rather conflicted between joining him and remaining with the other Eternals. Instead of having to choose, Kingo decides to bail instead, seemingly unable to handle the pressure and upset by the turn of events. Still, there’s something in him that ultimately cares for humanity and Earth that gave him pause enough to keep him from joining Ikaris and Sprite in their plans to ensure the planet’s destruction.

Ikaris does die at the end of Eternals. Unable to kill Sersi out of his deep love for her, and having been connected with the other Eternals through their collective uni-mind takedown of Tiamut, Ikaris is somewhat distraught and feeling guilty for his actions. With the crisis averted, Ikaris likely felt he couldn’t return to the Eternals after betraying and attempting to kill them. He apologizes to Sersi for what he did and flies off into space. While it seemed at first he might just disappear into the darkness of the universe or find another planet to settle on, Ikaris instead flies directly into the sun, his metaphorical wings clipped for good. His death is not unlike the myth of Ikaris, who died after flying too close to the sun, essentially killed by his hubris and unwillingness to listen.

Next: Everything We Know About Eternals 2

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