Angelina Jolie’s Eternals Movie Character Explained: Who Is Thena?
Here’s everything you need to know about Angelina Jolie’s new MCU character Thena, who is set to make her debut in the Eternals movie in Phase 4.
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Acclaimed actress Angelina Jolie has officially joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this year’s Eternals – but who exactly is her character, Thena? As Eternals is a lesser-known property in Marvel Comics, most of the heroes and villains in Eternals comics are extremely obscure characters, and Thena is no exception.
Confirmed during San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Eternals is the second film in Marvel’s Phase Four slate. The film was originally scheduled for release in November 2020 before the ongoing pandemic delayed it a full year, with a new release date of November 5, 2021. Alongside Jolie, the film’s star-studded cast includes Salma Hayek as Ajak, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Gemma Chan as Sersi, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Kit Harington as Black Knight, and more. Directed by Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao, the movie will give the MCU its third big-screen superhero team by introducing the Eternals, a race of immortal aliens created by the Celestials, ancient cosmic beings, and sent to Earth to protect it from the Deviants, their villainous counterparts.
The characters and concepts from the film originate from the legendary Marvel Comics writer and artist Jack Kirby. The team debuted in Kirby’s Eternals comic book series in 1976. Thena made her first appearance in the comic’s fifth issue and has been a central character in nearly every Eternals story published since. She was later retconned to be the Timely Comics character Minerva, who debuted in 1940. This means that, in a way, Thena is one of the MCU’s oldest heroes. Here’s everything to know about the Eternals character, including what to expect from her role in the upcoming film.
Angelina Jolie Will Play Thena In The MCU
In March 2019, it was reported that Angelina Jolie had been cast as Sersi in Eternals. This was proven incorrect when the movie and cast were officially announced at SDCC 2019, with Jolie playing Thena instead. It was later confirmed that Captain Marvel’s Gemma Chan is playing Sersi in the Eternals film. At Disney’s D23 Expo, Jolie stepped onto the stage with the rest of the cast, with concept art behind each of the stars revealing their characters’ costumes. Jolie’s Thena will don the character’s classic gold outfit and will even sport her long blonde hair.
While the cast of Eternals features several well-known actors, Angelina Jolie is, of course, the most recognizable. Among the films Jolie has starred in include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Maleficent, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Salt, and The Tourist. Her work in Changeling and Girl, Interrupted earned her Academy Awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. There is no doubt Jolie will bring a lot of nuance to the role. Eternals will see Thena arrive on Earth 7,000 years ago with the other members of her team. She and the Eternals are tasked with protecting humanity and viewers will get to see Thena throughout the centuries as the film will cover various eras.
Thena’s Origin Story In Marvel Comics
A long time ago, the Celestials created two offshoots of the human race: the immortal and god-like Eternals and the hideously deformed Deviants. The Eternals were born on Earth, but some branched off and settled in other areas of the universe. One Eternal, Zuras, became the leader of the Earth-based Eternals and founded the city of Olympia in the mountains of Greece. He fathered a daughter, Azura, who he later renamed Thena. In time, Thena became a trusted member of the Eternals and second-in-command to her father Zuras (who has not been confirmed to be in the MCU film).
Some of Thena’s actions in human history have become a part of Greek and Roman mythology, with Thena often being mistaken for the goddesses Athena and Minerva. During her early years, Thena became discontent with relations between the Eternals, the Deviants, and the humans, as well as the “balance” that her father sought to maintain between them all. Thena longed to have the Deviants destroyed and make the humans equal with Eternals. Things changed for Thena when she entered into a forbidden, doomed romance with the evil Deviant, Warlord Kro. Their love story, which spanned two thousand years, is responsible for much of the heartache that Thena has experienced in her long life.
Thena’s Powers & Abilities Explained
All Eternals are fueled with cosmic energy, giving them access to a vast number of abilities. So like all other members of her race, Thena’s powers include flight through levitation, shooting beams of energy from her eyes and hands, manipulating matter, telepathy, and teleportation. She also possesses superhuman strength, speed, and agility. And as an immortal, Thena is nigh-invincible and nearly impossible to kill. Eternals are able to use their cosmic energy to train their abilities, which is why some Eternals are more powerful than others. Thena has honed many of her powers over thousands of years, thus making her one of the most formidable members of her race.
Thena doesn’t just rely on her natural-born powers to win her battles, though; she is also highly skilled in weaponry. Since the Eternals possess advanced technology, Thena occasionally carries a special crossbow that fires bolts of cold energy into combat. Her signature weapon, however, is actually a spear. Thena is rarely seen without her golden spear, which can emit heat energy and deploy an anti-gravity field when thrown. In the Eternals trailers, Thena is shown forming her spear and shield to fight and train, while she’s seen wielding a sword in another scene, one she likely created through energy manipulation.
Thena’s Most Important Comic Book Stories
During the 1980s, a 12-issue Eternals miniseries put considerable focus on Thena, who had just lost her father. After Zuras’ death, Thena assumed the role of Prime Eternal to become their new leader. Her brief stint as leader was marred by an accusation of treason from Ikaris, who believed that she had let her relationship with Kro, the leader of the Deviants, prevent her from leading the Eternals into war with their evil counterparts. Ikaris’ accusation turned out to be correct. Thena tried to stop the two races from fighting, even though the Deviants were conspiring against the Eternals.
Thena and Kro even had children together after the two crossed paths in the Vietnam War, but this was kept a secret from both of their species. Her romance with Kro is the crux of Thena’s story in the comics. Thena has always loved Kro, despite his evil intentions for the Eternals and humans. It was Thena’s long-held belief that Kro was different from the rest of his kind, and on rare occasions, Kro has indeed displayed noble qualities. Neil Gaiman’s 2006 Eternals miniseries reimagined the core characters, including Thena, by erasing their memories and providing them with new lives in the world of humans. With Thena’s old persona washed away, she was an employee of Tony Stark, as well as a wife and a mother to a human child. After her memories were restored, however, Thena decided to keep the child, even though her fellow Eternals disapproved.
In the final Eternals trailer, Thena is seen with Kro and it’s possible the film will explore her complicated romantic history with him. What is clear, however, is Thena’s love for humanity, which is at the heart of her conversation with her love, who threatens that she and the other Eternals can’t protect them at all. What’s interesting about Thena is that, besides Gilgamesh, with whom she seems to share a deep friendship, she is isolated from the other members of the Eternals and has been for centuries. She reunites with them, however, when the Emergence happens — Hulk’s snap that brought back the half of the population that disappeared at the end of Avengers: Infinity War — and the looming threat of the Deviants finally arrives. Whether or not Thena and Kro will have to fight each other in Eternals remains to be seen, but it seems the character will have her hands full regardless.