The Pseudoscience Classic That Inspired Eternals… and Many Other Movies
Warning: Spoilers for the Eternals movie will be found about halfway into this story. We’ll warn you again when you’re about to hit them! One of the big reasons Marvel Comics characters continue to resonate throughout the decades is their strong mythic underpinnings. For instance, Thor and the Asgardians are taken wholesale from Norse legend; Ghost Rider has his basis in spectral horsemen folklore gathered by the Brothers Grimm; Black Panther takes cues from Egyptian culture as well as 20th Century Afrofuturism; and what is The Hulk but a play on Robert Louis Stevenson’s 19th century classic Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. But what of cosmic superhero team The Eternals, whose own feature film from Marvel Studios arrived in theaters this week? As it happens, one of creative powerhouse Jack Kirby’s final major contributions to the expansive Marvel Universe was riding the wave of a new myth being perpetrated by a German author who began espousing his theories of mankind’s evolution at just the right time. Those new myths would snowball over the ensuing decades into numerous popular sci-fi franchises and a mini-industry of pseudoscience books and documentaries.Chariots of the Gods? Coincidentally arriving the same year as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey depicted a mysterious alien monolith influencing early cave-dwelling hominoid monkey men, author Erich von Däniken’s 1968 book Chariots of the Gods? (the question mark was removed in some later editions) sought to impart daring new revelations of how extraterrestrial life had a sphere of influence on man’s development at crucial stages of civilization. Much of the book’s hypothesis is based around the assumption that earlier eras of man did not possess the capacity to accomplish the wonders they did, with alien intervention being the only probable explanation. Such achievements we were apparently too stupid to hack by ourselves include the construction of the Great Pyramids of Giza, which he suggests would have taken centuries to build with the technology Egyptians had at the time. That’s right, humans could never have thought of using slaves and ramps to haul big stone blocks without a few courteous E.T.s. Other miraculous structures that von Däniken considers to be artifacts of evidence to support his theory include England’s Stonehenge, the Moai statues of Easter Island and the numerous Nazca Lines of Peru. The latter large glyphs visible only from the sky are, in his eyes, replicas of alien…
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