Richard Madden’s Ikaris is being characterized as the MCU’s very own Superman in Marvel’s Eternals movie, with the connection being strengthened by a direct reference in the film itself. Comparisons between Ikaris and the Man of Steel have been quite common, especially during marketing for the new movie. Footage of Ikaris in television promos and the trailers have linked his familiar powers and abilities to that of the DC Comics icon.
In the comic books, the Marvel counterpart to Superman is Hyperion, but it looks like the MCU may instead be giving that role to newcomer Ikaris. Created by legendary comic book writer and artist Jack Kirby, Ikaris is traditionally the main protagonist in most of Marvel’s Eternals comics, including the original 1976-1977 series. In the MCU, he’ll be one of the ten titular characters. True to the concepts introduced in the comics, Marvel’s Eternals movie is centered on a race of super-powered immortals fueled by cosmic energy. For thousands of years, Ikaris, Sersi, Thena, Gilgamesh, and six others have been sharing the Earth with humanity in secret.
A modern-day battle with their ancient rivals, the Deviants, is expected to force the Eternals into the open. Described as some of the most powerful characters ever to exist, the Eternals will be a forced to be reckoned with when they make their highly anticipated entrance on the big-screen. Gilgamesh is thought to be on par with Thanos, while the comparisons between Ikaris and Superman speak volumes about what the character may be capable of—although there are still many questions pertaining to how accurate this analogy really is. Here’s who Ikaris is in Marvel Comics, what he can do, and how he connects to the Last Son of Krypton.
An Eternals featurette included a surprising moment when it showed a child looking at Ikaris and saying, “that’s Superman! With the cape, and you shoot laser beams out of your eyes!” Ikaris’ response is that he doesn’t wear a cape. The nod to Superman in Eternals immediately turned heads, given that the MCU has never directly acknowledged a DC superhero. Now, it’s confirmed that DC characters like Clark Kent do indeed exist in Marvel’s world, presumably as comic book heroes.
According to Eternals director Chloe Zhao, the purpose of the Superman-Ikaris connection was for it to tie in with the movie’s mythological and cultural themes. Not unlike the comic characters, the MCU’s Eternals are intertwined with mythology, meaning that a number of ancient stories were inspired by their adventures. Zhao explained that Superman and Ikaris are “modern reinterpretations of characters that exist in different cultures”. That’s why Zhao wanted to “pay tribute to the really iconic version that we’ve all grown to love and has influenced us”.
The Marvel Comics version of Ikaris is depicted as the foundation for a Biblical tale as well as a story in Greek mythology. Apparently, Ikaris was the “dove” that helped guide Noah’s Ark to safety thousands of years ago. He was also a figure in the myth about Icarus, the boy who built his own wings and died while flying too close to the sun. In Marvel’s retelling of the story, Ikaris was the boy’s father. For the most part though, the character didn’t really have much of a hand in shaping human history. Ikaris and the Eternals were bound by a pact made with the Celestials that dictated that they stay out of human affairs. These rules were respected for centuries, but stopped being an issue when it came time for the Celestials to pass judgment on the Earth.
Although Ikaris was not the original leader of the Eternals, he did take center stage in their efforts to save both their own kind and humanity. Years later, Ikaris emerged as a gung-ho figure amongst the Eternals in regards to his attitude toward the Deviants. Devoted to defeating the villains, Ikaris spent much of his time seeking them out and foiling their plans, even if he didn’t always have the support of his allies. His actions resulted in frequent clashes with Thena, who had taken a passive approach to the conflict. Eventually, the two had a falling out. Furious with Thena, Ikaris successfully challenged her to a fight and usurped her to become the new leader of the Olympian Eternals.
Eternals as a species possess a wide range of superhuman powers in the comics, which encompasses super strength, flight, the ability to shoot cosmic blasts out of his hands and eyes, telepathy, and transmutation. Some Eternals, however, stand out from the rest on account of having additional powers or a better version of a specific ability. Sersi, for instance, outclasses them all when it comes to manipulating matter, and Makkari has super speed, which is something that no other Eternal has in the Marvel Universe. As for what makes Ikaris special, he doesn’t have unique powers of his own per se, but the majority of his abilities are superior to those of his fellow Eternals. He’s also arguably the second strongest Eternal behind Gilgamesh.
For the MCU, Marvel is seemingly dropping some of Ikaris’ comic powers, such as transmutation and telepathy, but is keeping the cosmic eye beams, super strength, and flight. Obviously, it’s these three that serve as the basis for why he’s regarded as the MCU’s Superman analog. But even though he had those powers in the comics, Ikaris was never considered to be a Man of Steel clone. That’s primarily because all of the Eternals were originally comparable to Superman, rather than just Ikaris. In classic comics, characters like Gilgamesh and Sersi would also fly around in battle, shooting cosmic eye rays at their opponents. Every Eternal was capable of these feats before the MCU made significant changes to the Eternals’ powers in an effort to establish that each character is inherently different.
Plus, most of the comparisons to the DC Comics character were attributed to Hyperion, who was a much more obvious Superman caricature in the 1970s and 1980s. However, Hyperion doesn’t exist in the MCU and is far from a household name. By limiting its Superman-esque abilities to Ikaris, Eternals is drawing more attention to the similarities between them than the comics ever did. He may not be faster than a speeding bullet, but his other powers will go a long way toward giving the audiences the feel that going forward, the MCU has its own Big Blue Boy Scout out there keeping the Earth safe.