The origin of the Celestials has never been fully explained, but there are many theories as to how they came to be. One theory holds they might be survivors of a previous universe. Another states they were created or in some way connected to Eternity. Another one states they were created by and serve an entity called the Fulcrum and help it maintain cosmic balance. Whatever their origin may be, one thing is for certain, they are a race of scientists and engineers who have taken upon themselves to "shepherd" the development of younger, "lesser" races such as The Skrulls, though their reasons for doing so is unknown. One theory suggested is they seek to create the next Eternity. Another theory suggests that doing so somehow serves the Fulcrum and, in turn, the balance between Order and Chaos. When the universe was still young, their race was never known to participate in wars, though they sometimes intervened whenever the probability of their experiments being ruined were too high for comfort. But that all changed when they made first contact with The Watchers, whose views on the controversial subject of older races interfering with the natural development of younger races clashed directly with those of The Celestials. It was their differences of opinion ultimately ignited a war between the two races, unfortunately, the Oath of Non-Interference taken by The Watchers made it forever impossible to stop The Celestials, at least in a direct manner.
Thor witnessed the birth of a new Celestial in the midst of the Black Galaxy, a bio-verse that was made of living matter. Other Celestials assembled its armor, with Hercules captured in its head. Then Stellaris, who hated the Celestials, rammed it at enormous speeds, sparking off a huge explosion, which expanded to reach the edges of the Black Galaxy, then contracted, focusing all of the power of the Black Galaxy into the new Celestial, which then came alive. It is not known if all Celestials are "born" this way.
The Celestials are a Marvel comics book species created by Jack Kirby and first appearing in The Eternals #2 released in 1976. The Celestials first appear in The Eternals #2, and as a concept were created by Jack Kirby. They bare some semblance to Erich von Däniken ideas of giant space gods whose tampering with humanity lead to technological advancement.
Major Story Arcs
The First Host of Celestials came to Earth about one million years ago to do genetic tests and experiments with the Earth's most intelligent life form, human beings. After many tests and experiments, the Celestials created two sub-species of humans, the Eternals and the Deviants. However, their manipulation of human DNA would give humans the potential to gain superhuman powers and also allow them to give birth to Mutants thanks to the insertion of the X-Gene. The Second Host of Celestials came to Earth about 18,000 B.C. to check upon the progress of the First Host's visit. After finding the directions of Deviants counter-productive and in response to Deviants firing on their ship, the Celestials decided to destroy Lemuria, the Deviants' kingdom. The combination of explosions and eruptions sank Lemuria, Atlantis and other similar civilizations into the ocean. This disaster became known as the Great Cataclysm.
It was during this time that Tiamut the Communicator a.k.a. The Dreaming Celestial was framed by a cabal of Celestials lead by Arishem the Judge, who was jealous of The Dreaming Celestials' intimate connection to The One Above All. After a long battle with the treacherous traitors, The Dreaming Celestial was sealed away inside the Diablo Mountains for a crime he never committed, just as Arishem had hoped he would.
The Third Host of Celestials came to Earth around the 10th Century. The Incas, who worshiped the Celestials, built a City of the Space Gods high in the Andes mountains. The Third Host occupied this city as their main base on this visit. The Council of Godheads of Earth confronted the Third Host with the Eternal Ajak speaking for the Celestials. A pact of non-interference with humanity was agreed upon by the Celestials, Earth's Godheads, the Eternals and the Deviants until the arrival of the Fourth Host.
In the late 20th Century, the Fourth Host of Celestials arrived on Earth to judge humanity. Fearing that the Celestials would destroy Earth if they judged against its people, Zuras joined forces with Odin and led the Eternals into battle against the Celestials, who killed them for attempting to betray them. Odin, who had infused a Celestial-sized version of The Destroyer armor with the souls of nearly every Asgardian in existence along with his own, pushed onward and engaged The Celestials in combat. After wiping out Odin and The Asgardians and defeating an enraged Thor, Arishem the Judge came to a decision and prepared to judge the Earth but not before attempting to end Thor's life. Luckily, Gaea arrived at the last minute and offered the Celestials the Young Gods who had been chosen to prove humanity's worth. This convinced Arishem to spare Thor and judge Earth worthy of continued existence. The Celestials then departed for space, taking Gaea's offerings with them. But this would not be the last time anyone would see the Celestials.
Months after the incident with The Fourth Host, Thor ended up being jettisoned into space where he crash-landed on the planet Pangora which Arishem the Judge had found unworthy of a continued existence, Thor made an attempt at driving the Celestial Judge away, but was ignored by Arishem while he summoned forth Exitar the Exterminator, a 20,000 foot Celestial who wielded the power to destroy worlds and purify entire galaxies. Thor tried to destroy Exitar from the inside by breaking the dome in his head that allowed Exitar to control his armor from hyperspace, where the true forms of all The Celestials resided, unfortunately Thor was unable to succeed in this endeavor and was spat out of Exitar's "mouth" like tobacco. Exitar then proceeded to purify the planet, eradicating only the Space Pirates who had been raping Pangoria and its people for over a thousand years. A clone of Thor created by Exitar explained their true intentions to Thor and told him that had he continued to interfere with their plans, Arishem would have altered his judgment and ordered Exitar to destroy the entire planet. The clone also warned Thor that should he interfere in their personal affairs ever again...they would obliterate him. With that, the clone exiled Thor from Pangoria while Arishem and Exitar enveloped the planet in a shield that would keep extraterrestrial intruders out from now on and then moved the planet to a safe and secret location.
The Celestials encountered The Fantastic Four, The Fantastic Force, Kristoff Vernard and Scott Lang a few years later during a crisis that almost saw an end to the millennia long war between the Celestials and the Watchers, who were saved at the last second by The Invisible Woman after she managed to cut Exitar the Exterminator off from the physical plane by using her connection to hyperspace to destroy the link between his true form and his colossal armor.
Nezzar the Calculator and Ashema the Listener later returned to Earth to force Franklin Richards into choosing which reality, Earth-616 or The Heroes Reborn Universe, would live and which would die. Their intentions were also to take Franklin with them and train him in the proper use of his cosmic power. A power they wished to manipulate for their own personal reasons, however, Ashema's newfound love for Humanity turned her away from this cause and lead her to store the Heroes Reborn Universe inside her own shell, which the other Celestials eventually gathered up and began studying, hinting at the possibility of a second ascension.
The Thanos Imperative and Uncanny X-Men
An army of Celestials were later seen on the front lines of The Fault along with Galactus and The Proemial Gods, only to either fall or be forced into a tactical retreat by Shuma-Gorath's all-powerful Galactus Engine. Later, thanks to Mr. Sinister tampering with the Dreaming Celestial, The Prime Celestial Host was drawn to Earth and touched down outside of San Francisco where The X-Men attempted to communicate with them.
However, they were not acknowledged by the Space-Gods as they were beneath them, luckily, the newly restored Dreaming Celestial stepped in on their behalf and sent his former brethren away as a way of showing his gratitude to The X-Men for saving his life.
The Voldi Incident
Recently, a race of Phoenix Force-worshiping aliens known as the Voldi used an artifact called The Heart of the Void to empower their entire species using the cosmic energy they stole from the Celestials.
Using this power, the Voldi were able to hide from the Celestials, but when Recorder 451 stole the artifact their "cloak" dropped and revealed the location of their world-ship to The Celestials.
Seconds after the cloak dropped, a massive host of angry Celestials descended upon the Voldi and eradicated the entire species within moments.
With their thirst for revenge satisfied, the Celestials departed from the remains of the Voldi homeworld and returned to their standard routines.
During the ritual to be chosen as the next Apocalypse, Genocide summoned a Celestial Gardner to a Starcore station to face judgement and after careful review was found to be a suitable replacement for Apocalypse.
After giving Genocide a Celestial Death Seed, the Gardener was besieged by the Apocalypse Twins, the children of Archangel.
Using an ancient Asgardian axe Jarnbjorn that once belonged to Thor, Uriel Worthington sliced the Celestial in half and killed it, the consequences of which would be most severe. Currently, The Celestials have yet to retaliate.
During their search for The Beyonder across time and space; Doctor Doom, Sharon Ventura, The Thing and The Human Torch came across a reality completely overrun with Celestials. They speculated that perhaps the Celestials originally came from this universe.
In a universe where Korvac conquered the universe, The Celestials were all killed when he absorbed every living thing into himself and tried to become one with Eternity.
Countless generations after the so-called " Evolutionary War" mutated Humanity into a race of super-intelligent psychics; The Celestials judged them a threat to the totality of Creation and tried to destroy Earth. But when they confronted Humanity, the mutated humans used their combined mental might to erase The Celestials from existence.
The Age of Apocalypse
Everything was relatively the same up until a lone Celestial Gardner visiting Earth during the reign of Apocalypse was somehow defeated by the tyrant himself, who stole one of the Life Seeds it cultivated while on Earth. It's old suit of armor, which has more than likely abandoned in favor of a new one, now lies in an undisclosed location somewhere on Earth-295, where it is slowly being consumed by the plants and trees of the forest it lays on top of.
While traveling through time, The Avengers caught a glimpse of Arishem the Judge making his way through a desolate canyon at some unknown point in history. They never learned what he was doing there nor did they have any time to investigate before they were forced to move on to another time period.
In this reality, The Celestials were driven insane by their own power and came to believe that they were the true Gods of their Universe and all others beyond it.
When they began forcing the lesser races to worship them, the Reed Richards of their Earth attempted to stop them on his own but failed and was captured where they spent hours torturing him while sifting through his memories.
Through their Reed, they discovered the existence of The Council of Reeds and extracted every bit of information they could about it and the things they kept stored in their Citadel like handfuls of Ultimate Nullifiers and even three Infinity Gauntlets.
Their dreams of Multiversal conquest would be realized should they manage to take control of The Council's resources.
A host of Celestials, lead by Arishem the Judge, attacked The Council and attempted to force them into submission, when they realized that the Reeds were not going to yield to them, Arishem and the others began systematically killing off each and every Reed in their sight.
One Reed, who could access other realities using his own body as a portal, sacrificed himself so that the last Infinity Gauntlet-wielding Reed could unleash its power upon them and create a distraction large enough for his fellow Reeds to escape.
Earth-616's Reed along with many others began making their escape only to find Eson the Searcher hot on their tail, who promptly ignored most of the other Reeds and focused his attention on Earth-616's, who managed to return to his Universe and slice Eson's hand off by closing the portal behind him just seconds before the immense Celestial managed to snatch him up. Reed of Earth-616 returned shortly afterward with a plethora of weapons capable of harming and temporarily exterminating their Celestial adversaries.
When their ranks began to diminish, the Celestials retreated and escaped into other universes, with several Reeds hot on their tails. Sometime later, Valeria Richards of Earth-616 discovered the still active portal leading to The Council's citadel and ventured within to find Eson the Searcher and three other unnamed Celestials surrounding the citadel, as if they were waiting for something.
After managing to slip past them unseen, Valeria found the brain-damaged versions of Doctor Doom the Reeds had been keeping locked away in their basements running amok, though the racket they were causing did not capture the attention of The Celestials.
It wasn't until the remaining versions of Valeria's father emerged from hiding that The Celestials began to react. With time to spare, some of the Reeds and Valeria managed to flee from them before one of the unnamed Celestials' heat blast could incinerate them.
The Celestials of Earth-4280 are currently in control of the Citadel and expanding their "religion" and influence across the Multiverse. On a list of numerous potential threats to Earth-616 compiled by Reed, their invasion of Earth via "The Bridge" was set at Medium status.
Valeria's later recollection of the events that took place following the escape to Earth-616 indicate that the Celestials of Earth-4280 have the ability to combine into a single entity. Knowing somehow that Earth would unwillingly play host to the mad ones, Galactus had become increasingly concerned about the being within The Galactus Seed, whom he feared would be unleashed should The Celestials annihilate Earth in a fit of mad rage.
To ensure that he could get back to Earth before things get too far out of hand, Galactus gave Reed Richards an "Arc" to summon him when the time is right. Later, Doctor Doom, Kristoff Vernard, The FF and the last survivor of the interdimensional Council of Reeds confronted four of the mad ones occupying the Council's old citadel and engaged them in battle with the robot armies of Latveria to aid them.
The fight eventually came down to Franklin Richards facing off against the mad ones and though for a moment it seemed he might win, the mad ones shrugged off the alterations he made to reality during their fight and infiltrated his mind, filling his mind with strong negative thoughts that shut him down in a matter of seconds.
Now that they stood triumphant, one of the mad ones proceeded to force the gateway to 616 permanently open by detaching its fingertips and jamming them in the portal.
Realizing that invasion was now imminent, the group fell back to 616 with the exception of Doom and the last of the Reeds, who stayed behind to hold the mad ones at bay so that the others would have more than enough time to find a way to close the portal and prevent the mad ones from crossing over.
Franklin, using his abilities, was able to dislodge the fingers of the Celestial keeping the portal open but shortly afterward the fingers combined to form a "Hand of God" which quickly took hold of Leech and fused with his body, turning him into a mini-Celestial of sorts programmed with one sole directive: keep the portal open and stop anyone who tries to close it. Meanwhile, the alternate Reed attempted to use The Ultimate Nullifier on the Mad Ones, specifically Eson.
However, Reed was unable to maintain his focus on killing Eson and was destroyed by the imploding Nullifier. Afterward, The Celestials stopped their assault and instead offered Doom a choice: move aside and let them through or die in agony. Doom chose the latter by refusing to move and was promptly incinerated by all four of them.
With Doom out of the way, the Mad Ones forced their way through the tiny portal, tore apart Doom's Castle and immediately located the being they referred to as the "Final Anarchist" (Earth-616's Reed Richards) and then teleported away.
The Mad Ones reappeared moments later in the midst of a major conflict between the allied forces of The Inhumans, The Annihilation Wave, The Fantastic Four and Galactus who were fighting The Kree at the time and assaulted Galactus directly, who referred to them as "his true reason" for being present at the site of the battle.
The Celestials, having not anticipated Galactus' presence on the battlefield, became rather perturbed and uneasy. They were quick to threaten Galactus with a painful death should he not leave at once. When Galactus revealed that he was fully aware of their most secretive plots, one of the Mad Ones freaked out and together with his brethren dog piled on top of Galactus and began viciously attacking him.
Galactus managed to kill one of The Celestials, but upon doing so prompted the others to merge with their fallen brother and become a massive "Super-Celestial" who, with a single burst of energy, injured Galactus gravely and sent his limp body crashing to Earth. The Combined Mad One then arrived on Earth to finish Reed Richards off. Luckily, he was able to use The Anvil to separate The Mad Ones from one another.
After a quick moment of silence for their fallen brother, The Mad Ones retaliated with extreme force and wrecked The Anvil. The Human Torch attacked them with a supernova-styled attack that was shrugged off even by the Celestial whose armor had been torn into.
The Celestials retaliated and overwhelmed Johnny without even trying. With Johnny defeated, The Celestials turned their attention on the others and knocked most of them unconscious, including their target, who they were very eager to get their hands on.
However, before they could the still very-much awake Invisible Woman tore into the arm of the one who was inches away from crushing Reed and stood before them in defiance.
The Celestials began attacking her without mercy, pelting her with one blast after another, but amazingly her shield managed to block most of the attacks. Ultimately, however, the constant barrage of energy blasts pushed The Invisible Woman beyond exhaustion making it impossible for her to defend Reed any further.
The Celestials gave her one final warning to move aside, but she once again refused by telling them to go to Hell. The Celestials then powered up for one final attack only for it to be interrupted by a brightly shining light coming from above.
When they looked up, the Mad Ones saw future incarnations of Franklin and Valeria emerging from a rift in time, both ready to strike at the Mad Ones with their own brand of cosmic power.
Perplexed by the sight of another Franklin, they made a revised observation of the same observation they made of the younger Franklin...only this time they considered him to be a greater threat than his younger self.
The future Franklin forcefully teleported the Mad Ones into a nearby gas giant to give everyone a bit of respite before the final conflict could begin. The Mad Ones returned moments later and engage Franklin in fierce combat. The Purple-Blue Celestial was the first to fall before Franklin's might, which further enraged the remaining Mad Ones.
Eson and The Gray-Green Celestial began speeding up their attacks in an attempt to finish Franklin off faster before he could get another chance.
Unfortunately for The Celestials, Franklin was able to rejuvenate Galactus and supercharge his powers using the power given to him by his younger self thus placing the two Celestials at a serious disadvantage.
The Gray-Green Celestial died shortly after Galactus' arrival while Eson was destroyed by Franklin's ultimate sacrifice. With Eson's destruction assured, the threat to our existence posed by The Mad Celestials had finally ended, at least on Earth-616, that is.
During the conflict Nathaniel Richards explained that all of the events that lead up to the final fight with The Mad Celestials had actually happened countless times before in other realities prior to occurring in 616 and that he was always forced to watch Reed die at the hands of The Mad Celestials.
An outcome which was prevented on 616 thanks to the choices Reed made in life, specifically the ones that lead to Franklin's birth. Despite all of this, however, the outcome in which The Mad Celestials won the final conflict continues to affect the futures of other universes and will continue to do so until the end of time.
Whether any of the other Mad Celestials will one day venture to 616 to avenge their fallen brethren is uncertain. What is certain, however, is that they will always be out there, spreading their insanity further and further across the Continuum.
In an alternate future that has been destroyed by the Fault, the Badoon enslaved the Celestials using the last Cosmic Cube and created what they called the Celestial Engine.
The Celestial Engine surrounded The Fault and used the combined power of The Celestials, the Cube and the Sun to create a force field strong enough to hold the Fault from consuming what remained of the universe.
The Engine was destroyed by the Guardians of the Galaxy of that time and some members of the Guardians from the 616 reality. After it broke it's alignment, this reality was consumed by the Fault, killing all of The Celestials.
But they did not seem to mind this fate, for they were finally free of the Badoon's control, free of the pain and agony they experienced as they spent millennia keeping the ever-expanding Fault from consuming Earth's Solar System. They were at peace now and could rest easy as they moved on to their next lives.
Earth-9997 (Earth X)
How The Celestials began as a human-like race from the same universe as Galactus, their hunger for greater knowledge was so immense that they developed at a rather quick pace, so quick that they reached the apex of technology and understanding of the Universe faster than they expected. With the threat of stagnation on the horizon, The Celestials became desperate to find something else they could study and learn from.
Their own bodies proved to be their salvation, because they had focused all attention on learning about everything else, The Celestials knew very little about the inner workings of their own unique biology. Thus began a long series of experiments that resulting in their ascension into immortal beings made of pure anti-matter energy. Unfortunately, their actions had resulted in the loss of their ability to reproduce and ability to maintain cohesion on a physical plane of existence.
To fix the latter problem, they built massive armored suits which they could control remotely from hyperspace in order to interact with the physical world, however the threat of stagnation was still approaching and then, the rotted pillars holding their birth-reality together collapsed. Apparently, their experiments had destabilized the very fabric of time/space, causing it to implode.
However, their actions also lead to The Enigma Force transforming Galan of Taa into Galactus, a young woman into the physical embodiment of the new Death Abstract and the rise of The Phoenix. Not only that but it had saved them from stagnation, with all of the new realities created in the wake of the original universe's death, they could literally do anything they wanted and feed their hunger for knowledge in the process.
In this reality, the first encounter between the Celestials and the Watchers resulted in the enslavement of the latter species due to their failure to stop the birth of the original Galactus. As punishment, The Celestials forced them to watch over the embryos they laid inside the hearts of planets. When a Fifth Host arrived to destroy Earth and bring about the birth of a new Celestial, they were driven back by Galactus (Franklin Richards), who then removed the embryo from the heart of the world and consumed it.
When The Celestials and Elders of The Universe were shut off from the worlds they were once able to freely manipulate, they focused all their rage on Franklin, who was saved by the new Eternity, a combination of his own Father and the fully restored Cosmic Consciousness of Captain Universe.
Earth-1610 (Ultimate Universe)
In the Ultimate Universe, The Celestials are not nigh-omnipotent armored space gods but rather a group of forcibly-evolved humans that willfully serve under the benevolent rule of Kuyan-Yin a.k.a. Xorn in the "Celestial City" portion of Tian. Which is home to their all-enlightened ideologues.
When Liz Allen, Karen Grant and Derek Morgan of "Ultimate X" learned more about how life in Tian worked and that by staying they could finally break free from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s control and escape Humanities prejudice and hate towards them, asked for asylum, which Xorn granted without a second thought.
Powers and Abilities
Standing well over 2,000 feet tall, each Celestial possesses godlike powers beyond imagination, capable of manipulating matter and energy on an immeasurable scale. The Celestials have shown the ability to move planets at will, lay waste to entire worlds that they deem unfit for survival, destroy artifacts that are thought to be indestructible, such as the Asgardian Destroyer Armour, and even contain and destroy entire universes.
When the Skyfathers of Earth's dimension: Odin, Zeus, and Vishnu combined their energies into a single attack powerful enough to reduce an entire galaxy to nothingness and attacked the Celestial leader known as Arishem the Judge, the combined might of the Skyfathers failed to even faze Arishem in the slightest. Arishem the Judge responded by threatening to permanently seal off the dimensional links to Asgard, Olympus, and Nirvana along with the rest of the realms belonging to other Godheads, which frightened the Skyfathers to the point that they went down on their knees and acknowledged their inferiority to the all-powerful Celestial leader.
Despite their great power, it is still possible to "injure" a Celestial. One such instance was when a 2,000 feet tall Odin while wearing the Asgardian Destroyer Armour infused with the souls of all the Asgardians (except for Thor), wielding the Odinsword managed to cut off Nezzar's arm, although the Celestial regenerated instantly. Tiamut the Dreaming Celestial has gone as far as stating that it is impossible to truly kill a Celestial. However, a Celestial can be imprisoned by its fellow Celestials.
Nathaniel Richards suspected that the source of the Celestial's powers were from Hyperspace. This theory would prove how Invisible Woman was able to crack a hole in Exitar the Exterminator's armor and cut off his link to the physical realm, destroying his immense armor in the process. The Celestials are also capable of communicating with their counterparts from every reality and timeline in existence no matter what points in time they are inhabiting while communicating. This includes Past to Present, Past to Future, Present to Future and vice versa.
In Other Media
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The severed head of a Celestial appears in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. It is shown being used as a space station called Knowhere.