Marvel Studios' Eternals debuted on Disney Plus on January 12, and along with the film's eponymous cosmic heroes, the MCU Phase Four film also introduces us to a couple of surprising Marvel Comic characters.
Even if you haven't seen Eternals yet, as you've probably heard by now in one of the film's two post-credits scenes, a trio of Eternals encounter Eros, the brother of Thanos (played by superstar musician, actor, and burgeoning cultural icon Harry Styles), along with his companion Pip the Troll (played by Patton Oswalt).
Himself an Eternal, the debut of Eros (a sometimes Avenger also called StarFox) makes perfect sense. But Pip the Troll's presence is particularly interesting and odd … and in fact, full of potential.
While he's now playing sidekick to Eros, in his comic book past he's played that same role for Adam Warlock (debuting in the MCU himself in 2023's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 played by Will Poulter). Pip's also a founding member of the Infinity Watch, a one-time band of characters charged with individually serving as guardians of each of one of the six Infinity Stones in Marvel Comics.
Never heard of Pip the Troll? That means you've missed some of Marvel's most eclectic comics of the '70s and '90s (his two heydays with the publisher).
But if you're not, we got your back. For the majority of MCU fans who probably aren't familiar with the larger mythos around Adam Warlock and the Infinity Watch, Newsarama can reveal all the cosmic secrets of their weirdest, wiliest member Pip the Troll.
For more on the new MCU characters and concepts introduced in Eternals, check out:
- Harry Styles' Eros/Starfox has one of the most disturbing Marvel Comics histories
- Black Knight - the Marvel Comics history of Dane Whitman
- Could Celestial vomit bring mutants and the X-Men to the MCU?
- How Marvel Studios solved its Sprite immortality problem
Who is Pip the Troll?
Introduced in 1975's Strange Tales #179 (opens in new tab), Pip the Troll was born Prince Pip Gofern, 260th noble in line for the throne of his homeworld Laxidazia (yes, that's a play on Pip's own libertine, lackadaisical attitude in his time as a prince). With his political station so far removed from real responsibility, Pip became a connoisseur of Laxidazia's many pubs, bars, and party houses while plying his trade as a painter.
But when he fell in with a group of Laxidazian Trolls - a population of cavorting, satyr-like outcasts seen as less-than by Laxidazian society - Pip was transformed into a troll himself after getting drunk on their enchanted liquor.(opens in new tab)
Pip met up with Adam Warlock when Warlock's dark counterpart the Magus and his forces in the Universal Life Church invaded Laxadazia, rounding up the Trolls with plans to execute them all in a horrifying act of genocide. Warlock and Pip came to trust each other, leading the Trolls in a revolt to drive the Magus off Laxidazia.
Warlock and Pip continued traveling together as Warlock fought the Magus, parting ways after Warlock finally defeated the dark entity.
Their reunion came a few years later when Thanos killed Pip in Avengers Annual #7 (opens in new tab) along with Gamora, though Adam Warlock was able to save them both by storing their essences in his Soul Gem (which is of course one of the six Infinity Gems, later renamed the Infinity Stones).
Pip the Troll in the Marvel Universe
After years trapped in the Soul Gem's internal realm of Soul World, Pip discovers the Silver Surfer also inside Soul World. The two pair up to seek out Adam Warlock, who Silver Surfer reveals has also been trapped in Soul World by Thanos who has seized the Soul Gem as part of his quest to assemble all six Infinity Stones.
Pip and Silver Surfer discover Warlock locked in battle with Drax the Destroyer, who is also trapped in Soul World. After settling their beef, Silver Surfer convinces Warlock, Drax, and Gamora to join him and Pip in escaping the Soul Gem to help take on Thanos, who is, by then, deeply embroiled in building the Infinity Gauntlet as part of his plan to eliminate half of the life in the Universe.
(Incidentally, in comic books, Thanos takes on this mission because he is in love with the Marvel Universe's embodiment of Death, a much more twisted motive even than his skewed, violent view of resource management as depicted in the MCU).(opens in new tab)
Adam Warlock, Pip, Gamora, and Drax are reborn and joined by Moondragon, and they assist the heroes of the Marvel Universe in defeating Thanos and undoing his destruction, as shown in the landmark Marvel Comics event Infinity Gauntlet (opens in new tab).
With the Gauntlet disassembled, Warlock assembles a team known as the Infinity Watch made up of himself, Pip, Gamora, Drax, Moondragon, and almost shockingly, Thanos himself. Each character is tasked with holding/guarding one of the Infinity Stones to keep them from ever being assembled again (all six Infinity Stones have since been combined again several times - and Thanos himself may assemble the Infinity Stones in a totally and frightening new way in 2022 - think the Infinity Mjolnir).
Weirdly, Pip himself became a villain in one of the sequels to Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity Crusade (opens in new tab), after he accidentally absorbs a massive source of transformative cosmic power, naming himself 'King of the Universe' until he can be divested from the corrupting power.
Pip the Troll in the MCU
One of the biggest questions in the MCU since Thanos' ultimate defeat and the destruction of the Infinity Stones in Avengers: Endgame (opens in new tab) is exactly what's going to happen to the cosmic power once contained in the Infinity Stones.
After all, while stones were destroyed, there were just vessels. Energy can't be destroyed.
With Adam Warlock following Pip to the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, it's entirely possible that the answer to that question could come in the form of an eventual version of the Infinity Watch, a group dedicated to policing and when necessary containing the power of the Infinity Stones.
If so, Pip the Troll could be a shoo-in for membership - and likely one of the most demanded characters from fans who love the cult-favorite Infinity Watch (opens in new tab) title and team.(opens in new tab)
And even if a formal Infinity Watch doesn't come together onscreen, Pip could make the perfect supporting character for Adam Warlock should he spin-off into his own movie or streaming series, playing just the right amount of MCU humor off the often high-minded and serious Warlock - especially as portrayed by the always hilarious Patton Oswalt.
In fact, Pip himself played a role in the story Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy (opens in new tab), adventuring alongside the team.
If Marvel opens the door to the Infinity Stones once again, that may put all the pieces in place for eventual exploration of Warlock's comic book story - in which Pip is a key player.
The story in which Pip joined Adam Warlock in the Infinity Watch team, Infinity Gauntlet, is one of the most impactful Marvel Comics events of all time.