Now that Eternals is streaming on Disney+, can we please talk openly about that wild post-credits scene and what it means for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Harry Styles’s acting career? It’s been two months since the world found out that the most famous musician/heartthrob on Earth was cast as Marvel’s most notorious lothario. Harry Styles is Eros, a.k.a. Starfox, potential Avenger and brother of Thanos. This… is unexpected.

It’s unexpected because of the Harry Styles of it all, sure, but it’s doubly unexpected to Marvel fans because we know who Starfox is. Starfox is, without a doubt, one of the last characters Marvel fans ever thought they’d see on the big screen. Why? Because the character is the definition of problematic — almost irredeemably so! Hell, even the comics have often struggled with how to use ol’ Eros in modern (re: post-1990) times. And now he’s appearing in the MCU? I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Before we get into Starfox/Eros’s sordid origin, let’s start with what we see in Eternals.

Who is Starfox in Eternals? Who is Eros in Eternals?

We only see Eros in the mid-credits scene, where he is introduced by his companion Pip the troll (voiced by Patton Oswalt) as the prince of Titan and brother of Thanos. Eros emerges from the shadows, reveals that he looks like Harry Styles, and tells the Eternals that their friends are in danger but he knows how to find them. It’s not a meaty scene, but there’s a lot to unpack here.

Harry STyles in Eternals
Photo: Disney+

Who is Eros in the Marvel Comics?

Eros debuted in Iron Man #55, published in 1972. That same issue, written and illustrated by Jim Starlin, introduced Drax and Thanos as well, thus kicking off the trippy, groovy expansion of Marvel’s cosmic canon that would ultimately lead to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie. For the first decade of his existence, Eros didn’t have much going on. He was always a supporting character, almost always depicted as fighting alongside his father Mentor against whatever stunts Thanos was trying to pull. It was inferred in Eros’ early appearances the his dalliances in ancient Rome inspired the stories of Eros, the Roman god of love. Still, Eros’ promiscuity was never at the forefront of any of these stories.

That all changed in 1983’s Avengers #231 when a new writer, Roger Stern, drafted Eros into the Avengers. Freed from having to share every story with his dad, evil brother, and massively powerful heroes like Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock, Stern was able to give Eros a mischievous, rakish personality that matched his name. And since he was joining the Avengers, Wasp gave him the codename Starfox because he’s a “pretty foxy guy” and he came from the stars.

So here’s the deal: as readers rather quickly learned Starfox was a flirt. A shameless flirt. A nonstop, shameless flirt — and he was on a team with Wasp, She-Hulk, Scarlet Witch, and Monica “Captain Marvel” Rambeau. He flirted with all of them, including other heroes like Tigra.

Starfox flirting with teammates
Avengers #236 (1983) by Roger Stern (writer), Al Milgrom (artist), Joe Sinnott (inker), Carl Gafford (colorist), Janice Chiang (letterer); Avengers #240 (1984) by Roger Stern, Ann Nocenti (writers), Al Milgrom (artist), Joe Sinnott (inker), Christie Scheele (colorist), Jim Novak (letterer)Photo: Marvel Comics

He also flirted with an EMT to try to get information on a crime scene, and was late to an Avengers meeting because he was having a picnic with a random woman.

Starfox flirting with civilians
Avengers #233 (1983) by John Byrne (writer, artist), Roger Stern (writer), John Byrne (artist), Joe Sinnott (inker), Christie Scheele (colorist), Jim Novak (letterer); Avengers #235 (1983) by Roger Stern (writer), Bob Budiansky (artist), Joe Sinnott (inker), Christie Scheele (colorist), Diana Albers (letterer)Photo: Marvel Comics

Starfox loves love — is that so wrong? Well, being an Avenger is a job and flirting with co-workers — and Wasp was his boss, BTW — is not exactly a wise course of action. But all of this flirtation was reframed in Avengers #237 when Starfox wondered when he should reveal his secret power to the Avengers — if he should reveal it at all!

Starfox wondering about his pleasure power
Avengers #237 (1983) by Roger Stern (writer), Al Milgrom (artist), Joe Sinnott (inker), Christie Scheele (colorist), Joe Rosen (letterer)Photo: Marvel Comics

That power? His pleasure power. Let’s just emphasize that: Starfox has a pleasure power. And yes, he did keep it a secret from the Avengers until issue #250 — nearly 20 issues after he joined as an Avenger-in-training! He just failed to mention to his teammates that every time he was flirting with or even just talking to them, he may or may not have been using his superhuman ability to enhance a person’s pleasure centers, thus making himself sexually irresistible. When Wasp found out about this, she was justifiably creeped out a bit!

Starfox powers revealed
Avengers #250 (1984) by Roger Stern (writer), Al Milgrom (artist), Joe Sinnott, Ian Akin, Brian Garvey, Roy Richardson (inkers), Christie Scheele (colorist), Jim Novak (letterer)Photo: Marvel Comics

To give these 1980s comics the benefit of the doubt, the only times Starfox is explicitly shown using his pleasure power is on bad guys — literally guys — in order to calm them down and make them less murder-y (Avengers #243, #246, #250, etc.). But still… a pleasure power.

Fast forward 20 years and Marvel Comics revisited Starfox’s cringe-inducing powers in an unflinching storyline in 2006’s She-Hulk #6-7. In it, She-Hulk is tasked with defending her old teammate Starfox when he is accused of using his coercive powers to sexually assault a woman. It’s as dark of a story as you can imagine, as it adds new context to Roger Stern’s 1980s Avengers run and looks at it with a modern (for 2006) critical eye.

She-Hulk confronting Starfox
She-Hulk #7 (2006) by Dan Slott (writer), Will Conrad (artist), Dave Kemp (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer)Photo: Marvel Comics

The story concludes in She-Hulk #13 when it’s revealed that Thanos was responsible for screwing around with his brother’s powers, making him unable to control them and unaware that he was out of control. When this is revealed, Starfox willingly has his powers blocked.

Starfox giving up his powers
She-Hulk #13 (2006) by Dan Slott (writer), Rick Burchett (artist), Cliff Rathburn (inker), Dave Kemp (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer)Photo: Marvel Comics

This She-Hulk storyline did something that few supervillains can do: it knocked Eros out of commission for almost a decade. After his appearance in She-Hulk #14, published in December 2006, Eros did not appear in main Marvel continuity outside of a few flashbacks until the publication of Avengers: Rage of Ultron in April 2015. Starfox was just gone for almost 8.5 years. He started appearing regularly again a year later in the pages of Thanos, and most recently popped up in a stretch of issues of 2019’s Guardians of the Galaxy comic. So, Marvel Comics remembers that Starfox exists, but they aren’t exactly using him all that often. But since there are plans to use him in the MCU, comic readers better get ready to see modern writers try to figure out how the hell to use this superhero character responsibly!

What is the future of Starfox in the MCU?

That’s an even bigger question. Clearly Marvel wouldn’t cast Harry Styles and just use him as a post-credits character. He has to show up somewhere, and the fact that he’s Thanos’ brother immediately elevates the character’s status. Every sentient being in the universe knows who Thanos is and probably wouldn’t mind having a word with his brother.

Eros could obviously show up in an Eternals sequel, if one’s in the works. It’s more likely that he and his companion Pip (voiced by Patton Oswalt) will appear in 2023’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. After all, Pip was on a team with Gamora and Drax for a long time in the comics, and Eros adventured around with Adam Warlock (a new character in GOTG3 played by Will Poulter) too.

Harry STyles as Eros
Photo: Disney+

It’s even possible that Styles could one day assemble on an all-new Avengers team. After all, the 1980s lineup that he was part of is mostly present and accounted for in the MCU: Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany), and versions of Wasp (Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne) and Captain America (Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson). And, I dunno, toss in Ant-Man while you’re at it. Hey — it could happen!

avengers team card
Photos: Disney, Marvel ; Illustration: Dillen Phelps

The question is: how will the MCU deal with a character whose power is, uh, hypnotic sexiness? The MCU’s already ignored Hank Pym’s incredibly awful comic book history and kept that canon from distracting from the fun, family-friendly Ant-Man series. If they can sidestep Pym’s problems, maybe they can do the same with Starfox? Maybe they just ignore the whole pleasure power thing and let Harry Styles be Harry Styles? After all, looking like and talking like and moving like Harry Styles is a superpower, and it has nothing to do with extraterrestrial brainwash-y coercion.

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