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Are the Cosmic Entities Coming to MCU Phase 3?

Morag Mural
Bet you didn't catch this (click image to enlarge)
With Marvel's Phase 3 set to launch early next year with the release of Captain America: Civil War, it is clear that we are finally approaching the end game with the ubervillain Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. There are still several pieces that need to be put in place first, but with all the attention so far focused on the two remaining Infinity Stones, why there seems to be two gauntlets, and whether or not Adam Warlock is going to show up, we seem to have overlooked some pretty clear evidence that another major aspect of the Marvel comic book universe is about to be unveiled on film.

The closest thing the comics have to actual gods are the Cosmic Entities, a dozen or so beings that embody heady philosophical constructs like Order and Hate. While they sometimes appear as physical beings, they are far more nebulous and exotic than your average superhero or supervillain, with their essence being woven into the very fabric of the universe (or multiverse, depending on the entity). Very few people know of their existence, and even fewer have ever seen one or interacted with them. Still, they are critical to understanding some of the grander beats of the Marvel epic, and a couple of them feature prominently in the Infinity Gauntlet storyline. The most important in that regard are the four Cosmic Entities who arrived with the Big Bang: Eternity, Infinity, Death, and Oblivion, said to be the true creators of the Infinity Gems and the "four points on the cosmological compass."

One remarkably well-hidden Easter Egg in Guardians of the Galaxy reveals the possible existence of these beings. When Peter Quill enters the Temple Vault to retrieve the orb on Morag early in the film, there is a mural on the floor depicting four people around six colored stones. Fans who dig into the book Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Art of the Movie can learn that the four people are, in fact, the four Cosmic Entities who created the stones: Eternity, Infinity, Death, and, uh, Entropy (more on that apparent discrepancy later). While that is the clearest indication that the Cosmic Entites exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is not the only one we have already come across.

With that in mind, let's discuss these four beings as they appear in the comics, what their relevance to the Infinity Gauntlet story is, any hints we may have gotten to their existence, and when we might see more of them in the lead-up to the next Avengers movie.

Eternity
ETERNITY

Who is it? The personification of every living thing in the universe, Eternity is also the incarnation of time itself. He is usually depicted as a vague silhouette filled with stars and planets, with a ghostly half of a human face.

What evidence do we have of him in the MCU? It's possible we've already seen him during the climax of Ant-Man. When Scott travels to the quantum realm, there is a blink-and-you-might-miss it moment during all the psychedelia where a humanoid figure can be seen in the upper right corner of the screen, shortly before Hank Pym's voice-over starts talking about Scott being lost for all "eternity." Peyton Reed seems to have confirmed that this is an easter egg, but the identity of the figure is still up for debate, with best odds placed on it being the lost Janet Van Dyne rather than Eternity. However, the shape is reminiscent of Eternity.

What is his importance for Infinity War? Eternity works with the "cosmic heirarchy" to fight Thanos during the Infinity Gauntlet storyline (and later joins with his "sister" Infinity to defeat Magus in the subsequent Infinity War comic storyline--I know it's confusing, and it's entirely possible that the cinematic Infinity War is both the Infinity Gauntlet story--which would be Part 1--and the Infinity War story--which would be Part 2). He is ultimately defeated by Thanos, who then takes his role as the embodiment of the totality of the universe, leaving his physical body behind to be defeated by Nebula. It would be difficult to tell the Infinity Gauntlet story without Eternity, but not completely impossible.

Where might he show up next? First of all, the best answer for all four of these beings is Doctor Strange, which might very well opt to introduce them all as part of Strange's (and the audience's) introduction to the more metaphysical side of the MCU. Despite strong rumors that the MCU is done with origin stories, Kevin Feige has confirmed that Doctor Strange will be an origin story, and Strange's origin leans heavily on the Cosmic Entities in the comics. Strange seeks the advice of Eternity to defeat Baron Mordo, who has already been confirmed to be the villain of the film, though whether or not Mordo is under the influence of Strange's best-known enemy, the Cosmic Entity Dormammu (who is eventually defeated by Eternity), is still unknown. Eternity makes the most sense in Doctor Strange, but he might also show up in Thor: Ragnarok, a movie I'm predicting will have a lot to do with time.

Infinity

INFINITY

Who is it? Whereas her "brother" is considered the incarnation of time, Infinity is the manifestation of space, though it is Eternity who is confusingly depicted as a silhouette of space. The two of them both represent the living force of the universe (and different versions of them exist in different universes throughout the multiverse).

What evidence do we have of her in the MCU? She is one of the two easiest beings to identify in the Morag mural (the other being Death), as her shape and features are distinct. Other than that, however, there is no evidence of Infinity existing in the MCU.

What is her importance for Infinity War? Infinity doesn't actually appear in the Infinity Gauntlet story, though she does appear in the subsequent Infinity War comic, with her teaming up with Eternity to defeat the evil Magus. It's unclear whether the cinematic Infinity War will include anything from the comic Infinity War, but if it does, Infinity is pretty important.

Where might she show up next? Infinity's only notable appearances in the comics are pretty far removed from anything going on in the MCU right now. If she doesn't appear in Doctor Strange, I don't see her showing up until Infinity War, and possibly not even then. Until the MCU is ready to tell the extremely abstract tales of Quasar and Maelstrom, Infinity won't have much to do there. Then again, if Adam Warlock and Magus do indeed play a role in the cinematic Infinity War, she'll have to be there to bind together with Eternity and dispatch Adam Warlock in the soul gem.

Death
DEATH

Who is it? The opposite of Eternity, Death is the embodiment of extinction and mortality. Usually depicted as a skeletal woman in a purple Grim Reaper gown, Death can actually take any physical form she pleases.

What evidence do we have of her in the MCU? In the mid-credits scene of The Avengers, in which we are first introduced to Thanos, his servant, the Other, explains that challenging Earth would be "to court Death." Whether the Other was talking about the actual character of Death or just the concept is pretty unimportant, since in Marvel theology, the character and the concept are one and the same. Thanos' smile at this remark is evidence that Thanos is either suicidal, or he wants to actually court Death.

What is her importance for Infinity War? She's easily the most important of the four Cosmic Entities in this list. In the comics, Death is the beginning and end of Thanos' motivation, as he kills half the universe just to prove his love to her. We haven't gotten much in the way of character development for Thanos in the MCU, but it's hard to imagine not including his crush on Death when trying to explain his character to audiences. She also ultimately betrays Thanos and joins other Celestial Entities (including Eternity) in trying--and failing--to defeat him.

Where might she show up next? Death is also potentially the most important of these four characters during Stephen Strange's origin story. Dr. Strange's final test before becoming the Sorcerer Supreme involves defeating Death (with the help, once again, of Eternity). Once he does this, he stops aging and can no longer die of natural causes, and that is the completion of his origin story. With all indications that the film version of Doctor Strange will focus on Baron Mordo, however, it initially seemed unlikely that Death would play a significant role. However, Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson sent out a tweet in May that may be a tease for Death, and given her importance to Thanos, she's the most likely Cosmic Entity to be introduced early.

Oblivion
OBLIVION/ENTROPY

Who is it? Oblivion is the final point on the cosmological compass, the counterpoint to Infinity. He represents nothingness and non-existence, and is closely related to his "sister," Death. Entropy, on the other hand, is considered an "offspring" of Eternity, whose sole purpose is to undo that which has been created. The two are similar in their respective roles, but the MCU is likely using the name "Entropy" to refer to Oblivion, as the comic version of Oblivion was first introduced in an X-Men comic (specifically, Iceman) and cinematic rights to his character probably belong to 20th Century Fox.

What evidence do we have of him in the MCU? Other than the mural, none.

What is his importance for Infinity War? Aside from being one of the creators of the Infinity Gems, Oblivion does not figure into either the Infinity Gauntlet or Infinity War comics. Neither, it should be noted, does Entropy.

Where might he show up next? Oblivion's storylines, like those of Infinity, are out there, too far from anything we've seen in the MCU to assume he'll make an appearance. It's possible one or more of these Cosmic Entities will play a role in Thor: Ragnarok, if Thor somehow seeks their guidance in tracking down the Infinity Stones or if Death and Entropy are taking an active role in moving the Norse apocalypse forward (as they might want to do). If Oblivion/Entropy doesn't appear in Doctor Strange or Thor: Ragnarok, though, I'm guessing we won't be seeing him at all in Phase 3.


So there you have it. If I were a betting man, I'd bet on seeing one or more of these Cosmic Entities (and maybe even a few I didn't mention) in Phase 3. That way, other Cosmic Entities from the comics can be a part of other storylines going forward. While the most well-known of these belongs to Fox right now (Galactus), there are several that might make good additions to the MCU, like Dormammu, the Living Tribunal, the Stranger, the Watcher (assuming it's not Stan Lee), Epoch, Lord Chaos, etc. The MCU is continuing to push the envelope in terms of how much comic book craziness it can get away with, and I for one don't see an end in sight. This may still just be the beginning.


-e. magill 10/26/2015










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