Marvel almost began setting up the Black Knight in 2016's Doctor Strange, four years before his official debut, but the Ebony Blade Easter egg was cut. Marvel Studios has confirmed that Game of Thrones star Kit Harington has been cast as Dane Whitman, better known as the Black Knight. The sword-swinging Avenger will make his MCU debut in next year's Eternals.
The Black Knight will bring a sword-and-sorcery element into the MCU that hasn't been seen before. In the comics, scientist Dane Whitman learned he was the heir to a legacy that runs all the way back to the days of Camelot, when he took possession of the mystical Ebony Blade. Whitman chose to embrace the mantle of the Black Knight, and he became a member - and even an occasional leader - of the Avengers.
The Ebony Blade has almost appeared in the MCU before. Marvel's prop team actually constructed a model of it, as one of the numerous mystical relics housed at Kamar-Taj for Doctor Strange. Propmaster Barry Gibbs told ComicBook.com that it was initially going to be in the film. "That was going to go into a book called the Lexicon of Relics," he explained, "but the Ebony Blade was taken out of the script. I don't quite know why." Based on Gibbs' comments, it sounds like, far from being a background tease (such as the Infinity Gauntlet in Thor), the Ebony Blade was going to have an active role in the film. It may well have been one of the relics used by the Masters of the Mystic Arts in their battle against Kaecilius and his Zealots.
There's some evidence the end sequences of Doctor Strange were rewritten during production, although it's unclear quite how extensive the rewrites were. TV spots included an extended look at the scenes in which the Masters of the Mystic Arts raided the reliquary for weapons, with one shot in which Linda Louise Duan's Tina Minoru picked up what was recognizable as the Staff of One. Given Minoru was cast in part because of her martial arts background yet has no fight scenes, there was likely some action adjustments. The Ebony Blade could have been part of these cut scenes.
Ultimately, while it means Doctor Strange didn't set up Black Knight, it's probably for the best. Marvel Studios love to put comic book Easter eggs in their movies, but sometimes these can backfire in the long run. The aforementioned Infinity Gauntlet Easter egg in Odin's vault in Thor gradually became one of the most confusing continuity problems in the MCU. The Ebony Blade could easily have turned into another issue, establishing its design or powers in a way that didn't work for its proper debut. By cutting this particular Easter egg, Marvel made it a lot easier to introduce the Black Knight in Eternals.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022