Sometimes in the world of comic books and superhero movies, actually dying can mean very little. These days we see characters rebooted and reimagined, franchises diverging along different paths, or even just multiple versions of the same person existing in different worlds. It can make things complicated but also gives studios and creatives incredible latitude around bringing a character back if they want to. But that doesn’t seem like it will be the case for Eternals, with there now being some affirmation that one character won’t be returning to the franchise at all.
If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, there are Eternals spoilers coming very soon.
In a recent interview with CBR (via ScreenRant), Eternals writer Kaz Firpo was asked about the fate of Richard Madden’s Ikaris who died at the end of the movie. Asking about what this meant for the future, or if there was some path to bringing the character back in some fashion, Firpo was pretty clear on the thought process around Ikaris’s future. Even in the world of comic book movies, in which different universes can be stacked on top of each other, it seems pretty clear that the writers wanted a definitive ending for Ikaris and that he wouldn’t be coming back in any fashion.
Firpo talked about the decision to have Ikaris take something of a villain turn in the movie, but also how he was incredibly conflicted about the decisions he had to make regarding both the Eternals and the Celestials. It leads to a breaking point and the character, much like the lore, flies himself into the Sun. Again, for almost any other story or movie, this would go without saying that he isn’t coming back. But because it’s the world of comic book movies, the question still needs to be asked. This is where Firpo didn’t mix words about the character’s fate and future. Check it out:
He can’t bear to face his family after what he’s done, which he realizes…He’s very sorry. I think he’s sorry for the way he lived his whole life on this planet, and that’s a lot of burden to carry. So really, that act is basically saying, “I made a mistake, but I can’t face my family, and I can’t go on living…” It’s sort of saying, “I can’t serve the Eternals. If I can’t serve the Celestials, and I can’t be with my family, then I choose this third option,” which — for him — really is oblivion. So yeah, he dead.
So there you have it. It looks like that will for sure be the end of Richard Madden was Ikaris. Is Firpo the ultimate arbiter of this fate for a character? Of course not. That will always lay in the hands of the studio and Marvel itself. But it sure seems like this was part of the overall Eternals plan and Marvel is always fiercely involved in these decisions from the bottom up. If the character is meant to be dead and gone, then I would say this counts as a certainty now.
Eternals was a polarizing movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the rare exceptions in this franchise which is full of hits. The 48% score on Rotten Tomatoes was the lowest of the MCU’s run. But the 80% audience score showed that there were plenty of fans still into the production and the story. It earned $346 million and change at the box office which is surely seen as a disappointment for the studio even with the pandemic tilting those numbers downwards. A convergence of factors might have kept this movie from being a “success” with a batch of new characters, disconnected from the original set of MCU folks.
But even with Richard Madden not set to return there are going to be other stories stemming out Eternals. Angelina Jolie is said to have a solo movie (or two) on the way and there are bigger villains who will come about because of this first story. Eternals is likely to be a jumping-off point for many other stories even if this first one fell kind of flat.