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Marvel movies to watch before Eternals (and the comics to read too)

The cast of the Eternals movie
(Image credit: Marvel)

Eternals is bringing a whole new group of heroes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Directed by Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao, it’s arguably Marvel Studios' most ambitious film in several years, so you’ll want to be fully prepared for its theatrical release on November 5. 

The film focuses on the titular Eternals, an ancient group of aliens sent to Earth thousands of years ago by a powerful race called Celestials. The Eternals act as gatekeepers and protect humanity, but only if necessary (we're going to learn why they didn't help us out during the whole Thanos situation). Their first standalone film will see them banding together to stop a potentially world-ending threat. 

The Eternals are making their MCU debut, and haven’t been featured or directly referenced in any other Marvel movie. However, there are films within the inter-connected universe that will give greater context to the events that take place in Eternals.

Of course, the MCU now comprises more than two dozen feature films, as well as a handful of Disney Plus originals. Fortunately, only some of those films are relevant to  the Eternals. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the Marvel movies you need to watch before Eternals as well as the order to watch them below. 

Marvel movies to watch before Eternals 

One note: we suggest watching them in release order, as the events play out in chronological order.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Do you really need an excuse to rewatch Guardians of the Galaxy? If so, the first Guardians flick actually contains not one but two references to the Celestials, who will undoubtedly play a part in Eternals. The ancient beings are not only directly mentioned by The Collector, but the mining planet Knowhere is also revealed to a disembodied Celestial head. Perhaps Eternals will explain how this came to be.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017): Even better than a reference to the Celestials, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 introduces us to one: Peter Quill’s dad, Ego. He actually believes himself to be the last surviving Celestial, after his race was wiped out millennia ago. It seems likely that Eternals will give this MCU sequel an even more important place within the franchise’s dense lore. 

Black Panther, Captain America, Black Widow, Bucky Barnes, surrounded by the Wakandan army in Avengers: Infinity War

(Image credit: Marvel)

3. Avengers Infinity War (2018): The culmination of The Infinity Saga, the events of Avengers: Infinity War are directly referenced in one of the Eternals trailers. The aliens are heard discussing Thanos’ snap and the fact they didn’t intervene to prevent it. Perhaps in their own movie, we’ll discover the impact of the snap on the Eternals themselves — did any of them get dusted? Marvel is being tight-lipped on the matter, but we can’t wait to find out.

4. Avengers Endgame (2019): This one goes without saying. You can’t watch Infinity War without following it up with Endgame. It also features the catalyst for the events of Eternal. When Hulk performs a snap of his own to bring everyone back, it triggers a cosmic event called the “Emergence”. It’s the fallout from this event that the Eternals will be combating in their own movie.  

Where to watch every Marvel movie you need to see before Eternals 

There is a range of ways to watch the above Marvel movies. You could opt for physical Blu-ray copies, or rent/purchase each film on a VOD service of your choice. However, the simplest (and cheapest) way to watch (nearly) every single moment of the MCU is through Disney Plus (where they stream in 4K HDR).

Every single MCU film to date (bar the two Spider-Man movies and 2008's The Incredible Hulk) is available on Disney Plus. Plus, you’ll also get complete access to the recently released wave of MCU original series including WandaVision, Falcon and Winter Soldier and Loki. 

The platform is also the home of a whole rafter of additional Marvel content including classic animated series and upcoming original shows, not to mention all the Disney, Pixar and Star Wars content available as well. It’s well worth the relatively small monthly subscription cost.

Disney Plus

Disney Plus is the hottest streaming service right now, and the MCU's streaming home. Prices start at £8/$8 CAD/$12 AUD, and gives you access to all the best content from Disney, Fox, Marvel, and Star Wars

Marvel comics to read before Eternals 

If you want to dive further into the world of the Eternals, Celestials and Deviants (think of them like the Eternals' evil opposites) then you’ll want to crack open a comic book. Making their first appearance in the 1970s, the Eternals have a rich history that spans decades. Below are some of the best books to get you a little more familiar with these often under-appreciated characters.  

The Eternals by Jack Kirby: was $39 now $35 @ Amazon

The Eternals by Jack Kirby: was $39 now $35 @ Amazon
See where it all began with the complete collection of The Eternal's original run. Created by comic legend Jack Kirby, this book introduced us to a world of cosmic mythology and warring alien entities. It's a comic book classic for a reason.

Eternals by Neil Gaiman: was $24 now $21 @ Amazon

Eternals by Neil Gaiman: was $24 now $21 @ Amazon
Neil Gaiman took Jack Kirby's original concept and ran with it in this 2006 run. Set against the backdrop of Marvel's Civil War, the Eternals awake from a lengthy slumber and are thrust into a life and death struggle that spans both time and space. 

Eternals: Only Death is Eternal: was $17 now $15 @ Amazon

Eternals: Only Death is Eternal: was $17 now $15 @ Amazon
In preparation for their MCU debut, the Eternals were given a new comic book run for 2021. This first volume collects the first six issues into one book. It's a fresh new take on the classic mythology created by Jack Kirby in the 1970s.

Rory is a staff writer at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics including tech news, deals, gaming, streaming and more. When he’s not writing hot takes on the latest gaming hardware and streaming shows, he can be found watching a borderline unhealthy amount of movies and being thoroughly disappointed by his terrible football team.