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The Eternals trailer’s giant red robot is the Cthulhu of the Marvel universe

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A little bit nicer than Cthulhu — but just a little

A living Celestial, as seen in The Eternals. Image: Marvel Studios

There’s one shot in the new trailer for Eternals that likely sends a chill up the spine of even the most hardened comics nerd: A big red space robot with absolutely no facial features except six lamp-like eyes. Make no mistake: This isn’t Galactus, no, this guy is way more powerful than the World Eater.

The presence of the big red space robot promises that Chloé Zhao’s Eternals will give us Jack Kirby-style Celestials. And that means they’re going to look like almost nothing else in the science-fiction canon.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has dabbled in the idea of Celestials before, primarily in the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, a large chunk of the action takes place in Knowhere, a mining station constructed inside the skull of a dead Celestial.

A huge skull and a bit of spinal column float in a stellar nebula, lit by the dwellings of hundreds of alien people in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1
Knowhere, population the Collector and his goons.
Image: Marvel Studios

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 muddied the Marvel Cinematic Universe waters on what a Celestial is, converting Ego the Living Planet (not a Celestial in the comics) into one of their number.

But with its big weird megazord of a space god, Eternals promises to hew much closer to Jack Kirby’s original designs. Kirby created the Marvel Comics concept of giant metal space gods who created intelligent life on thousands of planets, and occasionally come back millions of years later to visit their strange motives upon sentient populations. No two are the same, but they’re all brilliantly colored, vaguely human, miles tall, and completely unknowable — even to their servants, the Eternals.

Kirby’s visual influence on comics is so complete that it can seem invisible, in the way you can’t technically see the air around you. So far in comic book movies. (because Kirby also made big contributions to the aesthetics of the DC universe), Thor: Ragnarok is probably the movie that draws the most directly from his aesthetic of kaleidoscope colors, intricate patterns of bars and circles, and characters in truly bizarre headgear. But even if it’s only got one comics-accurate Celestial in it, Eternals could give Ragnarok a run for its money.