We’ve known about the MCU’s upcoming Eternals movie for a while, but we didn’t know the Black Knight would be appearing in it until Disney’s D23 Expo this year. Game of Thrones star Kit Harington has been cast to play the character alongside his old co-star, Richard Madden. When he got his own series in the comics, it was canceled after five issues, due to low sales. With any luck, Harington’s casting will make him more popular with MCU fans than he was with comic book readers.
The Black Knight’s real name is Dane Whitman. Before he took on his superhero mantle and decided to carry on a legacy that started in medieval England, he grew up in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Since he’s a medieval-themed superhero who wears black all the time, some fans have joked that Kit Harington has been typecast as an old-timey warrior clad in black. Dane Whitman and Jon Snow are two very different characters, but aesthetically, there’s very little distinguishing them – especially now that fans will visualize both of them as Kit Harington. But hey, he plays that role well, so why not?
As with pretty much every Marvel superhero, there have been more than one person to take on the mantle of Black Knight. Dane Whitman is the version that Kit Harington will be playing in the MCU, but he’s the third incarnation of the character. The first version was around in actual medieval times – whereas Whitman just has medieval-themed powers and clothes in the present day – and his name was Sir Percy of Scandia. The second Black Knight used his powers for evil and was a supervillain; this version is Whitman’s uncle. Whitman works to restore the honor to his family that his evil uncle took away.
Sir Percy of Scandia’s time as the Black Knight bestowed an honor upon the Whitman family. However, the honor was destroyed when Nathan Garrett took up the mantle of the Black Knight and used his newfound powers to become a supervillain. When Nathan was fatally wounded by Iron Man, he retreated home, where he confessed all of his crimes to his nephew Dane Whitman.
He gave Dane the mystical, cursed sword he inherited from Sir Percy and told him he had to become the third Black Knight in order to restore honor to the family. This suggests that Tony Stark could return to the MCU in a brief flashback.
Signature weapons are a trademark of the MCU, from Captain America’s vibranium shield to Thor’s hammer Mjolnir to Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet, so it’s only fitting that the Black Knight has his own pair of weapons: the Sword of Light and the Shield of Night. The Shield of Night can be used to absorb energy from each blow, and then the Sword of Light can be used to transfer that energy back out at the assailant. This is a little like Shuri’s latest Black Panther suit, which does the same thing, absorbing energy when it gets hit and then reflecting that energy back out.
The original Black Knight was around during King Arthur’s reign, and his arch nemesis was Mordred (sometimes known as “Mordred the Evil,” inspired by the Mordred of Arthurian legend), the king’s illegitimate son who betrayed him. The first Black Knight defeated Mordred, but his spirit was reincarnated by the Celtic nether gods that he serves. This allowed him to return to Earth in the present day and fight Dane Whitman, the current Black Knight. This rivalry could lead to some great MCU team-ups, since the Black Knight has faced Mordred alongside such MCU favorites as Doctor Strange and Valkyrie in the comics.
The Black Knight lives in a magical dimension called Weirdworld, where he rules over his own kingdom called New Avalon. He’ll be the next in long line of kingdom-ruling MCU heroes – Thor of Asgard, Black Panther of Wakanda, Valkyrie of New Asgard, Doctor Strange of our tangible reality etc. When the city in a bubble was spotted in one of the Quantum Realm scenes in Ant-Man and the Wasp, a lot of MCU fans expected the Black Knight to be revealed to be living there. Maybe this will be the MCU’s version of Weirdworld, and the city is New Avalon.
Like a lot of characters in the MCU, Dane Whitman is a scientific genius – in the field of physics, specifically – as well as having the brawn to kick ass alongside the Avengers. Physics is Dane’s specialty subject, since he has a master’s degree in it, but he’s actually shown himself to be well-versed in a number of different scientific fields.
This could lead to some very interesting team-ups in the MCU as he works on projects with Hank Pym or Shuri or Bruce Banner or even characters who have yet to join the franchise like Reed Richards and Charles Xavier.
The Black Knight’s Shield of Night and Sword of Light are not the only two weapons in his arsenal – they’re just the only two magical ones. He also has a handful of weapons that are powered with tech that his evil uncle create for his own tenure as Black Knight. He has a suit of armor, a power lance that can fire energy blasts, and a genetically enhanced winged white horse named Aragorn. All the best MCU characters have an unspoken bond with a non-human companion – Doctor Strange has the Cloak of Levitation, Rocket has Groot, Iron Man has J.A.R.V.I.S. – so Black Knight is starting off on the right foot.
Due to his roots in medieval legend, there’s a mystical element to the Black Knight’s character. His weapons are powered by magic and he has his own magical senses. He’s not a Master of the Mystic Arts or a magically gifted mutant – he can’t create an impenetrable shield or fend off a tidal wave or move matter with his bare hands – but he does have magical abilities. This would make a team-up with Doctor Strange or Wong or Scarlet Witch (or all three) very interesting. For all we know, Marvel is planning such a team-up via the multiverse for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The Eternals movie, due to hit theaters in late 2020, will be the first appearance of Black Knight in the MCU, but it won’t be his last. Producer Kevin Feige suggested that the character has a bright future: “We were so happy when [Kit Harington] agreed to join, and it is a part that could perhaps grow into something else in the future.” Marvel fans have been dying to see the Black Knight make his way to the big screen for years (with some expecting him to turn up in Avengers: Endgame before that was debunked by the film itself), so this is certainly an exciting prospect.