Photo Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO
Richard Madden is reportedly in talks to star in the lead opposite Angelina Jolie in The Eternals, Marvel Studios' adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, which is being directed by Beijing-born Chloé Zhao (The Rider), off a script by Matthew and Ryan Firpo. Madden will play Ikaris, a member of the Eternals race. The 32-year-old Scottish actor is best known for portraying Robb Stark in Game of Thrones seasons 1-3, and the lead role of a war vet and police officer in the 2018 series Bodyguard. The Eternals is one of several films that forms part of Marvel's post Avengers: Endgame slate, known as Phase Four.
The Wrap was the first to bring word of the new development, claiming that Madden was being eyed to star in The Eternals. It said that Madden's character was “being kept under wraps” but Variety reported shortly later to say that Madden was in talks for the role of Ikaris. Marvel Studios has offered no comment on the reports. Jolie is set to play Sersi, who differs from other Eternals in “her desire to live amongst humans”. One part of The Eternals is said to be a love story between Ikaris and Sersi. Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) and Ma Dong-seok (Train to Busan) are also part of The Eternals cast.
Created by writer-artist Jack Kirby in 1976, The Eternals are superpowered, near-immortal beings that came to life as “an offshoot of the evolutionary process that created sentient life on Earth”. They were made by the Celestials millions of years ago to be defenders of the planet and as result, brush up against their destructive counterparts, the Deviants. After being missing from Marvel Comics for two decades, author Neil Gaiman and artist John Romita, Jr. brought them up to speed in 2006.
Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame.
This would be all very new for the Marvel Cinematic Universe — or a possible Marvel Cinematic Multi-Verse, given what we heard in the new Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer — considering The Eternals will likely be set thousands of years ago in the past. The MCU has introduced two Celestials before, for what it's worth. One — Eson the Searcher — was shown in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, when Taneleer “The Collector” Tivan (Benicio del Toro) is talking about the Infinity Stones. And then in 2017's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we met Star-Lord's Celestial father, Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell).
Madden will be next seen in the upcoming Elton John biopic Rocketman, where he's playing his longtime manager, John Reid. He's also part of Skyfall director Sam Mendes' WWI film, 1917, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Mark Strong (Shazam!), Dean-Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones), Colin Firth (The King's Speech), and Andrew Scott (Spectre).
For Marvel, The Eternals is reportedly one of two films that will go on the floors this year, in addition to Scarlett Johansson's standalone Black Widow movie, from director Cate Shortland (Lore), expected to begin filming in June. Production on The Eternals will reportedly begin in September and end in January next year.
Beyond that, there are several Marvel films in the works, including sequels to Black Panther and Doctor Strange from writer-director Ryan Coogler and director Scott Derrickson, respectively, its first Asian superhero in Shang-Chi from director Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) and writer Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984), and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, with James Gunn back at the helm.