The Earth’s Eternals have been around on Earth for thousands of years. The Celestials, led by Arishem the Judge, put them there to protect the planet and fight the Deviants. The real reasons behind their presence on Earth were revealed in their movie, but the question remained: where were the Eternals during Infinity War and Endgame, and why didn’t they help fight Thanos?
During Infinity War & Endgame, Deviants haven’t appeared for centuries, so the Eternals were scattered across the Earth, living their individual lives. They didn’t interfere because many of them believed they ought to interfere only against Deviants.
However, the real reason why they didn’t interfere is that they weren’t told to interfere by Arishem and the Celestials. The Deviant story was just an excuse, as we learn later in the movie. The real reason for their existence on Earth was the Emergence, but even if that’s the case, it creates some small plot holes in the MCU. Let’s explore how and why.
Where Were The Eternals During Infinity War & Endgame?
There were ten Eternals on Earth since 5000 BC – Ajak, Ikaris, Sersi, Sprite, Makkari, Phastos, Kingo, Druig, Gilgamesh, and Thena. Ajak was their leader who communicated with Arishem the Judge, one of the Celestials who put them on Earth. They told the other Eternals they were on Earth to battle the Deviants – dangerous creatures killing everyone and everything in their path.
They were instructed not to interfere in the civilization’s progress on Earth any further – they ought to interfere only if Deviants were involved. Fast forward 7000 years; the Deviants were believed to be exterminated completely – not a single one appeared in centuries.
As there was no need for the Eternals to stay together because there were no Deviants to fight, the team grew apart and scattered across the Earth.
Sersi and Sprite lived in London and later reunited with Ikaris. Kingo became a Bollywood movie star, Phastos lived in the US and got a husband and a kid, Ajak lived quietly on a farm in South Dakota, Druig was the leader of a community in the amazon rainforest, whereas Gilgamesh took care of Thena, who wasn’t quite herself anymore.
Things changed, and they all reunited once Deviants reappeared, but even if there were no Deviants, it was revealed that the Eternals had much to deal with between one another.
Why Didn’t The Eternals Help Against Thanos?
Seeing that the Eternals were put on Earth to protect it, many fans wondered, why didn’t they help against Thanos during Infinity War and Endgame? Well, there are several reasons that, when put together, might give you a clear answer.
First and foremost, they were scattered across the Earth. We are unsure how much they communicated over the last centuries, so them not being together in the first place might play some role. That being said, they did gather rather quickly when the Deviants reappeared, so that can’t be the only reason.
Another reason why they didn’t interfere is that they were instructed not to interfere unless there were Deviants involved. Even if that meant letting wars rage across the planet – war leads to technological advancement, which leads to medical advancement, which ultimately leads to population growth.
Of course, we later learn that their real purpose wasn’t to fight the Deviants but to make sure the population of Earth grew so that the Emergence would eventually happen, leading to the birth of Tiamut, another Celestial, and the complete destruction of Earth.
In the end, the real reason why they didn’t interfere – is because they weren’t told to interfere by Arishem. Perhaps they didn’t know all the details, but the hierarchy was clear. Arishem is the boss, delegating orders to Ajak, who then delegates those orders to the rest of the Eternals.
However, that explanation possibly opens some plot holes, not just in the Eternals movie but also in the MCU in general. Let’s dissect that hypothesis a bit more.
The Eternals Not Interfering Plot Holes?
Regardless of what reason you take as the correct one for the Eternals not interfering against Thanos, it opens up some obvious plot holes that kind of need a deeper explanation, other than “well, nobody told them to fight.”
First, let’s say the thing about only fighting Deviants was true. The Eternals would still very much have a reason to fight Thanos. He is an Eternal from Titan but, unlike other Eternals, carries the Deviant Syndrome (hence, the purple skin and stumpy, colossal body). Seeing how evil his plans were, I believe the Mad Titan would pretty much qualify as a Deviant they ought to fight.
Even if they didn’t know about the Deviant Syndrome, or if the MCU Thanos is different from the comics and doesn’t have the Syndrome, he was an Eternal just like them. So, wouldn’t it be logical for Eternals to join a fight against an Eternal instead of letting him wreak havoc? If they didn’t know he was an Eternal, one would believe that Arishem and the Celestials would know.
Now, we know that “only fighting Deviants” was simply a lie Arishem told the Eternals not to learn their true purpose. That purpose was to control the Earth’s population and its steady growth until it reached a certain point that carries enough energy for the Emergence of a Celestial from within the Earth’s core.
Well, if the goal were the growth of the population, wouldn’t Thanos wiping out half of the population severely set back the Emergence? Wouldn’t that be something that Arishem would want to prevent by sending the Eternals into battle? There are two possible explanations for why he didn’t do it.
One, he somehow had foresight into what would happen: Thanos completing the Snap, the Avengers reversing it, and the Blip causing a rapid population growth, resulting in enough energy for the Emergence? There’s no indication that Arishem or the Celestials could foresee the future, so it’s not really a great explanation.
Two, Arishem worried that if he sent the Eternals to fight Thanos, he’d have to tell the truth about “only fighting Deviants” being a lie. It would probably cause a rift between the Eternals, and at least some of them would refuse to fight, but hey – we’d still have at least some Eternals fighting for Earth, which is better than none.
That being said, the rift eventually happened nevertheless. If Arishem had the foresight, as the first explanation would suggest, then he ought not to care and at least have some of the Eternals fight against Thanos during Infinity War and Endgame.
Ultimately, no matter how you explain it, there’s always a “but” somewhere that either needs further elaboration, or we can just settle with “it is what it is.”
Why Weren’t The Eternals Affected By Thanos’ Snap?
Finally, I wanted to answer this question briefly because I saw many people ask the same thing. The question is: why weren’t any of the Eternals affected by Thanos’ Snap?
Well, the director of the Eternals movie, Chloé Zhao, gave a hint to CinemaBlend that clearly explains it:
“Well, I can’t say this out loud, but if you think about… if you think about what the Celestials told them about themselves, technically, they can’t get blipped.”
If you watched the film, you’d understand what she meant. Let me elaborate.
Thanos wiped out half of all living beings in the universe. Now, in the movie, we learn that the Eternals aren’t really a species, per se, but rather a creation made by the Celestials, just as the Deviants. They are virtually robots – artificial intelligence disguised in a vessel that is their physical body.
Seeing that they aren’t really living beings but rather artificial intelligence, they couldn’t be affected by Thanos’ snap.