Eternal finally brought the Celestials into the MCU, a huge boon for fans of the cosmic side of Marvel Comics. But people who know Marvel Comics but are not connected to the cosmology of their sprawling universe might wonder about a possible connection between the Celestials, the giant space gods who threaten to destroy the earth, and Galactus, a giant space god who threatens, destroy the earth that often appears in Fantastic Four books (and could very well appear in their own Marvel Studios) Fantastic Four Restart film).
But is Galactus a heavenly one like Arishem and Tiamut in? Eternal? No. But he’s not far from these larger-than-life characters.
How to tell them apart.
A story of the heavenly ones
There so much of Eternal focuses on the birth of Tiamut the Celestial, let’s start with these big boys. Created by Jack Kirby on the pages of The Eternals In 1976, the Celestials are a race of gigantic, ultra-powerful cosmic beings created by the First Firmament, an embodiment of the first cosmos that ever existed. First Firmament created life, resulting in two races – the aspirants who wanted First Firmament approval and obey its desires, and the Celestials who wanted to take their existence into their hands to shape the universe around them. The heavenly ones rebelled against their Creator and shattered the first firmament into the very first multiverse known as the second cosmos, and the heavenly ones have survived this cycle of destruction and rebirth many times (A cosmos consists of all of reality, every universe in the multiverse and everything outside of it). For example, Marvel’s comic book timeline began in the seventh cosmos and is currently the eighth cosmos.
Celestials visit inhabited planets to experiment on “lower” life forms in groups known as “Celestial Hosts” to create Eternals and Deviants of all kinds. On earth this evidently led to the eternal and deviant that we have come to know (or the species Homo immortalis or Homo descendus, which arose from Homo sapiens). More interesting in its impact on the MCU, they also introduced a gene that led to homo superior – that is, mutants – eventually to exist. After their experiments, the Celestials leave for a while before returning to assess the planet. Should they find that the planet is missing, they will destroy it.
How is Galactus different from a Celestial?
Galactus was not created from the First Firmament. But he is from a previous incarnation of the cosmos.
Galactus first appeared on the pages of as a world-going threat Fantastic Four, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. And the duo would find its origin story on the pages of Thor: Originally a man named Galan, Galactus was born on an incredibly advanced planet called Taa, at a time very near to the end of the existence of the Sixth Cosmos. The Taaians discovered that the universe, just like the universe started with a Big Bang, would end with a Big Crunch – the entire universe would collapse, destroy everything, and start the cycle for the next cosmos from the beginning. Galan was sent to search space to find a way to prevent the Big Crunch and was unsuccessful. Instead, Galan somehow survived this breakdown of it all and emerged in the Seventh Cosmos as the Devourer or the Worlds, an agent of universal rebirth.
How exactly this happened is controversial as comics sometimes conflict with one another and Galactus’ own story differs from that of any other entity from the Sixth Cosmos. But the common thread is that Galan von Taa survived the collapse of the sixth cosmos and appeared as Galactus in the seventh.
Galactus’ function also separates him most from the heavenly. As the devourer of the worlds, Galactus needs Eating planets to survive. He doesn’t experiment with his food, he’s not here to judge anything. He simply starves, transforms a planet into pure cosmic energy with his gigantic spaceship and celebrates. Galactus does Occasionally drink a mortal with the cosmic power and recruit him to serve as his herald and seeker for new planets to consume. But he doesn’t share the same intentions as the Celestials and doesn’t function on the same scale at all.
But just because he’s gigantic, from a previous universe, and has a stupid hat doesn’t mean Galactus is one of the Celestials. And he could still play his own role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – whenever that Fantastic Four movie finally gets going. With giant cosmic beings obviously at play, anything seems possible on the Marvel movie side of this colorful universe.