Why Gilgamesh From Marvel's Eternals Looks So Familiar

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Why Gilgamesh From Marvel's Eternals Looks So Familiar
Marvel Studios/Disney

Marvel’s “Eternals” is the upcoming Phase Four movie from director Chloe Zhao that will introduce audiences to a corner of the Marvel universe that casual fans might not be familiar with. The Eternals are a group of benevolent, immortal aliens created by the Celestials, (aka the divine beings who give Marvel superheroes their superpowers), and have been living among humans for generations. The story begins when Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet Snap awakens the Deviants, another immortal race that can also tap into cosmic powers. The Deviants were also created by the Celestials, and they’re sort of like Eternals, but with bad intentions. That brings the Eternals out of hiding and puts them on a path toward a showdown with their longtime enemies.

The Eternals include Ajak (Salma Hayek), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Thena (Angelina Jolie), Sersi (Gemma Chan), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Druig (Barry Keoghan), and last but not least, Gilgamesh. He’s is both the strongest and the kindest of the Eternals, and he’s played by South Korean actor Ma Dong-seok.

While “Eternals” will be Ma’s Hollywood debut, if you’re familiar with South Korean cinema, there’s no doubt you’re familiar with Ma’s work. Here’s where you may know him from.

His international breakout came in Train to Busan

Why Gilgamesh From Marvel's Eternals Looks So Familiar
Next Entertainment World

Even if you’re not familiar with South Korean cinema, you’ve probably heard of “Train to Busan.” The 2016 zombie-themed horror film was the first South Korean zombie movie, and the first South Korean movie to surpass 10 million audience members (via K Drama Stars). Overall, it grossed more than $92 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo).

The story follows a group of passengers who get stuck on a high-speed train headed for the city of Busan right when a virus causes a zombie outbreak, forcing them to work together to survive. Ma Dong-seok plays Yoon Sang-hwa, who’s best remembered as the guy with the pregnant wife who held the train doors shut with his body, sacrificing himself to save the other passengers. Ma Dong-seok, who also goes by the name Don Lee, won the Best Supporting Actor award from the Korean Film Reporters Association for the role (via KoreanFilm.or.kr).

He played a well-dressed talent manager in Familyhood

Why Gilgamesh From Marvel's Eternals Looks So Familiar

2016 was a big year for Ma Dong-seok. In addition to “Train to Busan,” the busy actor also starred in the gritty crime thriller “Derailed” and the showbiz comedy “Familyhood.” The story of the latter follows Go Joo-yeon (Kim Hye-so), an actress in her early 40s whose A-list status is starting to slip. After her much younger boyfriend cheats on her, and she discovers that she’s hit menopause, Joo-yeon hatches a scheme to get revenge and put her career back on track: pretend to be pregnant, and then adopt the baby of a pregnant teenager.

Ma Dong-seok plays Pyeong-goo, Joo-yeon’s flamboyant manager and childhood best friend. As reported by Han Cinema, the role required 24 wardrobe changes. Ma, who isn’t particularly interested in fashion, found all his outfits uncomfortable. Ma also used makeup to conceal his strong physique, which is usually one of his most distinct features in film. “Familyhood” went on to gross almost $15 million in South Korea (via Box Office Mojo). 

He was a cop you don't want to mess with in The Outlaws

Why Gilgamesh From Marvel's Eternals Looks So Familiar
Megabox Plus M

In addition to his acting ability, Ma Dong-seok has experience with both combat and combat training — he’s a former middle school boxer, and he’s trained MMA fighters like Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman. When Ma was cast in the 2017 crime thriller “The Outlaws,” he was able to put both of his skills to good use.

“The Outlaws,” from director Kang Yoon-sung, is a dramatization of the Heuksaka Incident, gang turf war that led to a 2007 clash between South Korean law enforcement and Chinese-Korean gangsters (via Korea.net). Ma plays one of the lead characters, Ma Seok-do, a Seoul police officer who’s tasked with stopping the Heuksapa gang. As he told The Korea Times, Ma prepared for the role by doing extensive research about real police officers who fought gangsters. Using his own combat training, Ma also contributed many ideas to the script. “The Outlaws went on to gross more than $52 million, with nearly all of that coming from the South Korean box office (via Box Office Mojo).

Though many of his most familiar films are Korean at this point, we’ve got a feeling “The Eternals” will put him on the Hollywood map for good.

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