Content warning: The following article contains descriptions of suicide and suicidal ideation.
Those hoping to see a major character in "Eternals" return after his somewhat ambiguous death are going to be disappointed, according to screenwriter Kaz Firpo. Needless to say, there are some huge spoilers ahead.
For a long time, but especially since the whole "Death of Superman" thing that happened in the '90s, death has been basically meaningless in comic books. That's what happens when you have a whole magical multiverse full of convenient ways to bring characters back from the dead. But so far the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been surprisingly good about keeping dead characters in the ground and, by extension, actually making their deaths feel meaningful. There are exceptions: Phil Coulson made a comeback after his death inspired the "avenging" of "The Avengers," Groot returned as Baby Groot (who is actually a brand new Groot and not just the old Groot regrown), and Black Widow reappeared through the power of the prequel. For the most part, though, dead is dead in the MCU.
That's also the case with Richard Madden's Ikaris, according to Kaz Firpo, who co-wrote "Eternals" with his brother and writing partner, Ryan Firpo, Patrick Burleigh, and director Chloé Zhao. A mid-movie heel turn reveals that Ikaris murdered the Prime Eternal, Ajak (Salma Hayek), when she got cold feet about letting the Celestial inside Earth's core be born, which would destroy the planet and kill everyone on it.
Ultimately, Ikaris cannot bring himself to kill the love of his life, Sersi (Gemma Chan), in the final battle of "Eternals." Torn between his love for Sersi and his faith in their Celestial creator, Arishem, Ikaris lives up to his name by flying straight into the sun. Since Eternals are quite durable (they're millions of years old), I personally did wonder if our solar system's little old sun would be enough to kill Ikaris. Speaking to CBR, Firpo confirmed that it was:
"What is the melting point of an Eternal? How long does it take to literally melt an Eternal robot?" Firpo joked. "For what it's worth … yeah, it was always that. He can't bear to face his family after what he's done, which he realizes."
He's Dead, Dave
Of course, there's nothing to stop Ikaris from being resurrected somewhere down the line on the whim of Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige. However, his death scene in "Eternals" was written to be a definitive death scene, not a ooh-that's-a-bad-situation-but-maybe-he-can-get-out-of-it scene. And given that it's not simply a death scene, but a depiction of suicide by a character in the depths of despair, Ikaris' death is particularly sensitive. Firpo broke down the mindset of the character at the point when he decides death is his only remaining option:
"I don't think that Ikaris even thinks that he's wrong. I think that he just has so much regret. 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 began as an exile that I think, throughout the course of the filmmaking, really became something that needed to be definitive. It really is a moment of saying, 'It's sacrifice.' 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."
There's a great tragedy to Ikaris' death, but it would best be dealt with by the surviving Eternals processing his loss, and that of Ajak and Gilgamesh, if and when they return in a future sequel. Having Ikaris pop back up in "Eternals 2" with a "hey guys, I'm back, and killing myself gave me some cool new sun powers!" (for example) might make his death feel a little cheap.
"Eternals" is playing in theaters now.
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