[This story contains spoilers for Marvel’s Eternals.]
Marvel Studios was once fond of reminding its audience that “it’s all connected.” That motto has rarely seemed as true as it does in the mid-credit sequence from Eternals. The surprise moment introduces two fan-favorite characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and teases an unexpected future for these heroes.
The appearance of Starfox and Pip the Troll — Harry Styles and Patton Oswalt, respectively — at the end of Chloé Zhao’s first Marvel movie may seem surprising to the majority of viewers, most of whom wouldn’t have any idea who these particular characters are, or why they’d show up in an Eternals story. For longtime Marvel fans, however, it’s possibly the first tease of a larger story linking multiple franchises inside the larger MCU cosmos.
The appearance of Starfox — or, as he’s also known, Eros — is something that makes more sense than it may initially seem. In Marvel’s comic book mythology, Eros is an Eternal himself, albeit one from a breakaway faction that’s relocated into space following an ideological break from the majority of the group. That schism centered around the desire to create new Eternals via what’s euphemistically described as “technological and biological means.” One of the new Eternals made by what became known as the Titan Colony was Thanos, who destroyed the colony, killing his parents in the process. One of the Titan Eternals that didn’t die, however, was Eros… who, it turns out, is Thanos’ brother.
(This backstory is recapped in its most efficient form in Marvel’s current Eternals comic book series, which also makes the argument that a resurrected Thanos is as much an Eternal as the characters who debuted in the original version of the series, much to the surprise of those Eternals. Could this be a hint of things to come in the future of the MCU?)
In the aftermath of the Titan Colony’s destruction, Eros dedicated his life to dealing with Thanos. It was only after Thanos was seemingly defeated — like all good villains, he came back — that he decided to relocate to Earth, where he adopted the name Starfox and joined the Avengers for a period, before eventually returning to Titan. His primary power as a superhero? Being so charming, no-one could resist him. Suddenly, the Harry Styles casting makes more sense.
Pip the Troll, meanwhile, has a far stranger origin story: a prince of an alien planet, he was transformed into a troll after a heavy night of drinking — no, really — and decides to devote his life to debauchery. Those plans, sadly, were interrupted by being kidnapped by an intergalactic church, leading to his eventually meeting Thanos, who attempted to kill him by destroying his mind, unaware that he had already escaped inside the Soul Stone. Like Thanos, he’d later return, entirely healthy, through the magic of cosmic story logic and comics.
Thanos may be the primary connective tissue between Eros and Pip, but not the only one. Both characters not only share a creator in Jim Starlin — who also created Thanos, Drax, and Gamora, making him one of the most well represented Marvel creators on the big screen outside of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby — but also a relationship with another Marvel hero scheduled to make their MCU debut in an upcoming movie: Adam Warlock.
Director James Gunn has confirmed that Warlock will appear in the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie, played by Will Poulter. He was teased at the end of the second Guardians, and has been anticipated by MCU fans for close to a decade, thanks to his traditional role as Thanos’s more heroic nemesis. (This does raise the question, what is Adam Warlock going to be doing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 without his constant opposing force? Again, the idea of Thanos being somehow revived raises its unlikely head.)
Whether or not the introduction of Starfox and Pip in Eternals suggests a potential Adam Warlock/Guardians of the Galaxy/Eternals storyline in the offing is something that will likely remain under wraps for some time yet. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 isn’t due until 2023, after all, although further post-credit sequences might offer more clues before then.
What the post-credit sequence does confirm, though, is that, even if Guardians is going to wrap up with Gunn’s third and assumed final installment in a couple of years, Marvel still sees a lot of potential in mining the so-called “cosmic” comic series of the 1970s for ideas — meaning that the possibility of a Seeker 3000 movie isn’t entirely dead just yet. Well, a Disney+ series, at least.