Marvel's Eternals introduced former One Direction band member turned solo superstar and pop culture icon Harry Styles in a surprise role as one of Marvel's strangest cosmic beings - Eros. And now, Eros has made his comic book return in AXE: Judgment Day #3, ahead of a solo one-shot tying into the crossover.
The sometimes-Avenger Eros is also known in Marvel Comics as Starfox (yes, the same as the unrelated videogame character) and is a member of a whole other society of the ancient Eternals seen in the film.
Eros's sect of Eternals calls Saturn's moon Titan home, which also happens to be the home planet of the ultimate MCU final boss Thanos, who Eros's Eternals companion Pip the Troll (Patton Oswalt behind heavy GCI effects) announces is Eros's brother.
The world knows who Thanos is, of course. Thanks to Avengers: Endgame, MCU fans have even gotten small glimpses of his past including the wreckage of his homeworld of Titan (which unlike the Marvel Comics version is not one of Saturn's moons). But Thanos's family - and we mean his actual biological relations, not his adopted daughters Nebula and Gamora - remained unseen in the MCU.
Until Eternals, that is…
Styles/Eros made his heartthrob debut appearance in one of the film's two credits stingers alongside Pip, another cosmic adventurer from Marvel Comics.
In their brief introduction, Pip fully announces Eros as "the Royal Prince of Titan, brother of Thanos, the Knave of Hearts, defeater of Black Roger, the great adventurer, Starfox of Mystery Planet."
So who the heck is Eros, and what's his connection not just to Thanos and the Eternals, but to a potentially whole new generation of Avengers being established in the MCU? We got your 4-1-1 right here, but fair warning - his "Knave of Hearts" title has had some troublesome implications in his Marvel comic book past...
For more on the new MCU characters and concepts introduced in Eternals, check out:
- Mutants are Deviants? New Marvel Comics Judgment Day info doubles down on potential MCU game changer
- Black Knight - the Marvel Comics history of Dane Whitman
- Pip the Troll - his Marvel Comics hard-partying history explained
- Could Celestial vomit bring mutants and the X-Men to the MCU?
- How Marvel Studios solved its Sprite immortality problem
Who is Eros of the Eternals?
Born on Saturn's moon Titan, home to a population of Eternals all its own, Eros is the biological brother of Thanos the Mad Titan. Unlike his brother Thanos who was born with the genetic markers of the Eternals' ancient enemies the Deviants, Eros spent most of his youth as a libertine adventurer, taking lovers and finding mischief rather than worrying over his increasingly violent brother's misdeeds.
In fact, Eros was originally named Eron by his parents, but when his penchant for romance and sexuality was discovered in his youth, they renamed him 'Eros' in honor of the Greek god of love from actual human mythology.
Interestingly enough, the name Thanos is also derived from the Greek word for the personification of death, 'Thanatos,' meaning that the brothers are effectively named Love and Death - names that correspond with their respective obsessions.
Eros isn't the only name used by the Eternal either, as he's often gone by the name Starfox, given to him by the Avengers, when operating as a superhero among the people of Earth (though that name has become much less prevalent since the character's 1972 debut in Iron Man #55, thanks to Nintendo's Star Fox video game franchise).
Eros' carefree attitudes changed when Thanos went on a destructive rampage across Titan, killing many of the world's population of Eternals, including his own mother.
Though the circumstances of the story aren't quite the same as what's been explained about Thanos' past in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the results are similar: Titan and its population are left devastated and in ruins, with Thanos going on to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet as part of his plan to wreak his destruction throughout the entire universe.
Following Thanos' attack, Eros becomes a somewhat more serious person, eventually finding a friend and ally in Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel, and his own allies the Avengers in their first major fight against Thanos. After Thanos' initial defeat by Mar-Vell and the Avengers, Eros winds up falling in with the Avengers as a full member of the team, taking up the aforementioned superhero codename Starfox.
Eros stuck with the Avengers as Starfox for a time, before his wanderlust and constant desire for new romantic conquests became too much, and he returned to his spacefaring adventures. Over the years since, he's rejoined the Avengers for a mission here and there a few times, usually when Thanos enters the picture.
Most recently, in the story Guardians of the Galaxy: The Final Gauntlet, Eros' body was almost taken over by the consciousness of his then-dead brother Thanos, leading Thanos' adopted daughter (and therefore Eros' adopted niece) Gamora to stab him in an attempt to prevent Thanos' resurrection.
Sadly, Thanos returned anyway, and Eros has so far remained dead - until AXE: Judgment Day #3, in which he's rescued from a cosmic prison by his fellow Eternals.
What are Eros' powers?
We won't lie to you. When it comes to Eros' actual superpowers, they're more than a little problematic and kinda creepy - and the implications of that creepiness have been explored directly on the page in Marvel Comics.
So what can Eros actually do?
Well, in addition to the usual Eternal powers of long life, super strength and toughness, and other general superhuman qualities, Eros specifically has the power to psionically stimulate the pleasure centers of the brains of living beings - with all the weirdness and potential abuses that entails.
In comic books, Eros has been depicted as using this power to manipulate people's perceptions of him and others, to cause them such physical bliss that they're unable to move and become paralyzed, to form psychic bonds between people, and yes, horrifically, even to coerce people into sexual acts.
If that last bit sticks out to you, it stuck out to Marvel Comics too - to the point that in 2006's She-Hulk #6, Eros is actually put on trial for sexual assault due to allegations that he used his powers to seduce and assault a married woman. Eros is represented by his former Avengers teammate She-Hulk, with whom he shared a sexual tryst in their time as teammates, due to the law firm she was working for at the time taking on villainous clients, much to her chagrin.
During the trial, Eros is removed from the courtroom after being accused of using his powers to manipulate the jury in his favor. While being cross-examined by She-Hulk in a remote location, Eros refuses to answer questions about whether he used his powers on her when they were sexually involved, leading She-Hulk to beat him to a pulp after realizing she may have been coerced by his powers.
Thanos shows up, along with he and Eros' father Mentor, demanding a trial be conducted in accordance with the laws of the Eternals, as Eros is a citizen of Titan, not of Earth. In the course of the trial, it's revealed that while Eros didn't use his powers on She-Hulk to seduce her, he did use his powers to make her fall in love with John Jameson (son of J. Jonah Jameson).
At the same time, in the course of the trial, Thanos tricks Eros into believing that Eros is responsible for Thanos' obsession with the embodiment of Death through the use of his powers, meaning that he'd also be indirectly responsible for Thanos' murderous actions.
Though this is a lie meant to hurt Eros, Thanos' manipulation, combined with the evidence against him that he has a habit of using his powers to do harm to people, leads Eros to ask the psychic Avenger Moondragon to psionically shut down his powers, which she does - though he's later seen using them again without a clear explanation.
Eros in the MCU
With the Eternals now having debuted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - and with Thanos having long been a presence - it seems that more branches of the Eternals family tree could be introduced in the MCU in future films.
Adding Eros to the MCU could bring in some complicating elements for the legacy of Thanos as a villain, or even possibly provide a path for his return, as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy: The Final Gauntlet. And he could also make for an interesting if potentially troublesome teammate for a future Avengers roster.
Speaking of which, the newest generation of MCU heroes is shaping up to look a lot like the Avengers team that Eros was a part of when he was using the name Starfox, including She-Hulk, Black Knight (who has the beginnings of his own MCU superhero origin in Eternals), and Monica Rambeau.
That could mean that when he (and Styles) returns to the screen, Eros could be the perfect member of a new Avengers roster to add a touch of cosmic flair and an unexpected connection to the larger legacy of the original team.
When will that return be? We don't actually know yet, though Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has teased more appearances for Styles-as-Eros in the near future. However even the actor himself is playing coy about what could be in store, joking in a Rolling Stone interview "It'd be funny if that was it, wouldn't it?"
All of that said, any attempt to adapt Eros - especially as a hero, let alone an Avenger - is likely to include a major revision to his powers and history. Marvel Comics already balked at Eros' incredibly problematic powers over a decade ago, and Marvel Studios is likely more than keen to follow suit, especially with Harry Styles in tow.
Eternals is currently streaming on Disney Plus.
Eros' Marvel Comics (now undone) death appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy: The Final Gauntlet, one of the best Guardians of the Galaxy stories of all time.