After wearing the black cloak of the Night's Watch on Game of Thrones for years, Kit Harington will portray Dane Whitman, Marvel's Black Knight in Eternals. As revealed today at Disney's D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, Harington will portray one of the few non-Eternal characters in the film, which will focus on a race of powerful, near-immortal aliens in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Although the Black Knight has never been Marvel's most celebrated character, the hero has a history that stretches back to the era before Marvel was even called Marvel Comics. Whitman, who is just one of several Black Knights, has also had a lengthy superhero career that's seen him lead the Avengers and travel around the Marvel Multiverse. Now, CBR is taking a look back at this mystical warrior and his very close connection to one of the Eternals.
WHO IS THE BLACK KNIGHT?
The original Black Knight was created by Stan Lee and Joe Maneely for Atlas Comics, Marvel's precursor, in 1955. Years before heroes like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four established the Marvel Universe, Black Knight followed the medieval adventures of Sir Percy of Scandia as he fought the evil wizard Morderd the Evil. In his quest, Percy used armor that had been enchanted by Merlin the Magician and the Ebony Blade, a mystical sword Merlin carved out of meteorite.
Although the series only lasted five issues, the Ebony Blade became cursed to slowly drive its users mad, due to all of the blood that it was used to spill.
In 1964, Stan Lee and Dick Ayers introduced a present-day Black Knight in Tales to Astonish #52. Professor Nathan Garrett, Percy's descendant, found the Ebony Blade but could not use it, due to his evil inclinations. Enraged by this, he developed several hi-tech medieval-style weapons and became the villainous Black Knight.
After fighting Giant-Man and the Avengers and joining the Masters of Evil, he died after falling off his flying robot horse during a fight with Iron Man.
WHO IS DANE WHITMAN?
As Garrett lay dying, he summoned his nephew Dane Whitman and asked him to atone for his life of crime as a heroic Black Knight. When Dane debuted as the Black Knight in Roy Thomas, George Tuska and John Verpoorten's Avengers #47, the Avengers initially mistook him for his villainous uncle before making him an on-and-off provisional member of the team.
After floating around the Marvel Universe for years, Dane joined the Avengers for a few years in the mid-1980s, where he dealt with the corrupting influence of the Ebony Blade. After a few years away from the team, Dane started his most notable stint on the Avengers in the early 1990s, where he served as the team's leader when Captain America wasn't around.
BLACK KNIGHT'S ETERNALS CONNECTION
During his 1990s with the Avengers, Black Knight had a close romantic relationship with Sersi, one of the Eternals. This quickly turned into a love triangle when Dane found himself infatuated with the Inhumans' Crystal, who was also on the team. Although Sersi was one of the team's strongest members, she grew increasingly mentally unstable due to the influence of an evil, alternate reality Black Knight named Proctor.
Black Knight and Sersi eventually left the Avengers and traveled to the Ultraverse, an alternate reality where they encountered Loki, the Infinity Stones and the heroes of Malibu Comics. On their way back to the Marvel Universe, Dane and Sersi fought the X-Men villain Apocalypse in the 12th century before getting separated in the timestream.
After returning to the Marvel Universe, Dane joined Luke Cage and Iron Fist in the Heroes for Hire before moving on to European super-teams like New Excalibur, MI: 13 and Euroforce.
As the Ebony Blade took an increasing toll on his sanity, Whitman found himself pursued by the Avengers in his short-lived 2015 series Black Knight, by Frank Tieri and Luca Pizzari. Although that story left him as the ruler of the kingdom of New Avalon in the other-dimensional Weirdworld, he eventually returned to the Marvel Universe to lend a hand in crossovers like Secret Empire and War of the Realms.
BLACK KNIGHT IN THE MCU
While the announcement of Black Knight's role in Eternals was unexpected, it wasn't a total surprise. Despite his relatively minor role in the grand scheme of the Marvel Universe, his presence in the MCU was rumored late last year. That rumor also suggested that he may have a connection to the Quantum Realm, although that remains to be seen.
At the same time that Harington's role in Eternals was announced, Marvel revealed that Captain Marvel star Gemma Chan would be joining the film as Sersi. Given their lengthy shared history, Dane and Sersi seem likely to have some sort of connection or relationship in the MCU. With his history of traveling through dimensions, Whitman could also play a role in the MCU's increasingly important multiverse.
While the MCU has lost iconic heroes like Iron Man, Steve Rogers and (possibly) Spider-Man, the presence of Black Knight and Sersi gives the MCU two more classic Avengers, who are likely to find themselves on a future incarnation of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Directed by Chloé Zhao with a screenplay by Matthew and Ryan Firpo, Eternals stars Gemma Chan as Sersi, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Barry Keoghan as Druig, Lauren Ridloff as Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Don Lee as Gilgamesh and Angelina Jolie as Thena. The film arrives in theaters on November 6, 2020.