As with any Marvel movie, the marketing rollout for Eternals was seriously massive, with countless trailers, clips, images and cast interviews making the rounds in the weeks and months up to its November 5th release.
Also like other MCU efforts, these teasers kept the lid on some of the biggest plot developments in the film – well, mostly. Because weirdly, when you actually sit down to watch Eternals in the cinema, one of its biggest twists is subtly spoiled in the opening seconds of one of the trailers.
Warning – spoilers for Eternals from here on out. Look away now if you haven’t seen the film…
The twist in question – and we really hope you clicked away if you haven’t seen the film yet – is that the Eternals’ powerhouse second-in-command Ikaris (Richard Madden) was actually working against his teammates for the entire film, hoping to distract them for long enough that the Emergence (aka the birth of a godlike Celestial from inside Earth, killing everyone on the planet) took place despite their misgivings.
In the course of this campaign, it’s revealed in flashbacks that he killed team leader Ajak (Salma Hayek) who had decided to try and save the planet, planting her body at her ranch and then “discovering” her alongside Sersi (Gemma Chan) and Sprite (Lia McHugh) when they went to find her.
This interaction between Ikaris and Ajak is only revealed much later in the film, and informs the final clash between Ikaris and his Eternals family – but anyone who remembered the film’s trailers (see below) might have got an inkling a little earlier that something was off. You see, the Eternals main trailer actually included the flashback scene between Ikaris and Ajak where they discussed the emergence, shortly before the scene where he kills her.
Of course, when just watching the trailer this doesn’t spoil anything – why shouldn’t Ajak and Ikaris meet up for a chat? – but when watching the film, it’s clear something isn’t right. If Ikaris only discovered Ajak’s body with Sersi and Sprite in the early scenes of the film, why was he hanging out with her shortly before? It’s certainly implied that he hasn’t seen any of them for some time, and the content of their conversation explicitly states it takes place about a day before the main action of Eternals kicks off.
For anyone who had recently seen this clip (which was also featured on The Graham Norton Show in the UK when Hayek was a guest) and remembered it, this lost interaction between Ikaris and Ajak stuck out like a sore thumb. Yes, Eternals has plenty of flashback scenes – but why would Ikaris keep their meeting a secret if not for some nefarious reason?
It’s a subtle spoiler that only occurs when you’re actually watching the film, but it’s there. Often, filmmakers have little to no say about which parts of their films are included in trailers, so it might be that director Chloé Zhao wouldn’t have highlighted that scene herself if given the option.
To be fair, it’s easy to see why it was included – it delivers some handy introductory exposition about the threat facing the Eternals, and shows off Zhao’s natural lighting. And it’s the kind of spoiler that only occurs when you’ve already bought a ticket and sat down in the cinema – so who’s to say whether it actually does any damage to a film’s box office even if you do notice it?
Still, for those who were looking the twist is there. Clearly, even in official trailers, we’re not entirely safe from spoilers any more.
Eternals is in UK cinemas now. For more, check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or our full TV Guide.