Why Marvel's Eternals References DC Superheroes Batman & Superman

This article contains spoilers for Eternals.

Marvel's Eternals confirms that iconic DC super heroes Batman and Superman exist within the MCU, albeit as fictional comic book characters. The Marvel vs DC Comics rivalry is the stuff of legend, but in truth their fans are rather more committed to it than the staff members behind either team. It's in Marvel's interests for DC to be doing well, and vice versa, because the entire comic book industry flourishes as a result. The same can be said for comic book movies as well, and in an ideal world the MCU and DCEU would push one another to even greater heights.

Eternals marks the first time DC superheroes have been explicitly referenced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In one scene, Kingo's human valet Karun is described as the Alfred to his Batman—a comparison he clearly delights in, and one that suggests just how much hero-worship he has for his boss. Later in the movie, the Eternal known as Ikaris is directly compared to Superman, pointing out the obvious similarities between the two including enhanced super-strength, flight and the ability to project energy beams out of their eyes. Amusingly, Ikaris wasn't impressed at the comparison, insisting that he doesn't have a cape.

Related: Eternals' Cliffhanger Ending Explained

Like the comics, the MCU is ostensibly set in "the world outside your window"—a world just like the real one, only with the addition of gods and monsters, aliens and immortals. Batman and Superman both have a profound influence on popular culture, and by referencing them Eternals brings Marvel's on-screen society a little closer to that of the viewer's. In this case, the parallels actually turn into direct inversions of the characters they reference. Kingo sits the final battle out on philosophical grounds, proving that he's no Batman after all, while Ikarus turns into Eternal's version of "Dark Superman" with the revelation that he actually killed Ajak in order to ensure that the Emergence could not be stopped.

 

The relationship between Marvel and DC has always been an interesting one, and a lot more amicable than many of their fans assume, simply because writers and artists tend to migrate back and forth between the Big Two. Although some of the more prominent figures have exclusivity contracts, it's possible for others to work on books for both publishers at the same time—much like James Gunn has now directed films in both the MCU and DCEU. Jack Kirby is a good example of this, as he worked on the New Gods while at DC before turning to Marvel to create the Eternals, a group who are thematically and conceptually similar. There have been crossovers and team-ups—most notably the DC Versus Marvel miniseries in the '90s—but those are less common nowadays.

Both publishers continue to enjoy riffing on one another's works, with each dropping occasional Easter eggs that hint their rival's books are part of the same multiverse. References to the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel in Eternals will likely take some viewers by surprise, but they seem so very appropriate. Batman and Superman films blazed the trail for the entire superhero genre, one that Marvel effectively relaunched in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. As such, the nods to these DC heroes seem like a respectful way of acknowledging the important of two iconic characters to the comic book industry as a whole.

More: Eternals' After-Credits Scenes Introduce 4 Massive MCU Phase 4 Characters



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