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Why Marvel’s Eternals Hate Deviants (and Vice Versa) in the Comics

Marvel’s incredibly long-lived Eternals fight an ongoing battle against their sworn enemy the Deviants, but why does each side hate the other?

Warning: contains spoilers for Eternals Forever #1!

Marvel’s Eternals – the latest batch of superheroes to make their way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe – are tasked with protecting the Earth from the Deviants, but why do the groups hate each other? The struggle between the Eternals and the Deviants has lasted for centuries, even millennia, but many – even within the Marvel Universe itself – find their ongoing battle somewhat opaque. In Eternals Forever #1, written by Ralph Macchio with art by Ramòn F. Bachs and colors by Rachelle Rosenberg, a fundamental truth about the rivalry is revealed during a key meeting among Deviants.

In Eternals Forever #1, the issue opens with Ikaris soaring through the skies. Widely known as one of the more physically powerful Eternals (some even say that he’s a pastiche of DC’s other flying brick-type hero, Superman), Ikaris spots a ship flying toward him, and identifies it as “…a Deviant warship! Small, maneuverable – and deadly!” He dodges attacks from the ship and blasts cosmic energy from his eyes at the craft. But the Deviant vessel launches an electrified net, ensnaring Ikaris; the Deviant crew render him unconscious with a Brain Mine and bring him aboard.

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Deep in the Deviant underground of Lemuria, the Deviant leader Lord Ghaur plans to implant a mental tracking device of sorts inside Ikaris’ mind; when he conveniently escapes and returns to Olympia, the Deviants will at last know the city’s location. Lord Ghaur reminds an audience of fellow Deviants – though they call themselves the “Changing People” – that they were once conquerors of the surface world, but the accursed Eternals followed the orders of the Celestials and consistently pushed back the Deviants whenever they decided to move above their station. The Eternals sank their continent and forced them to live below the Earth’s surface ever since.

To the Deviants, this system is unjust and unfair. They see themselves as the rightful rulers of the Earth, not humans or anyone else. They blame the overbearing Celestials for their plight, and see the Eternals as simple instruments of the Celestials themselves. While they can’t attack the Celestials, they can certainly direct their wrath toward the Eternals. For their part, the Eternals hate the Deviants out of obedience to the Celestials; if they are meant to fight an enemy, they must logically be evil.

It’s important to note that in the 2021 Eternals soft reboot, the Eternal Thena was revealed to have fallen in love with Deviants in the past. Thus, this animosity can be overcome – but it seems highly unlikely, given the Eternals have spent more time fighting the Deviants than human civilization has even existed. If the Eternals will ever make peace with the Deviants, it will require a herculean effort on the part of their leaders.

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