Marvel's Eternals is set to introduce Kit Harington as the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Black Knight - a concept that predates Marvel Comics itself. Marvel Studios has always prided itself on bringing some of the more obscure comic book characters to the big screen; as a result, the MCU has included lesser-known characters such as Dum-Dum Dugan, Jimmy Woo, and Nakia.
The Eternals movie was already a deep cut into comic book lore, with Marvel Studios introducing a race of immortal beings who were created millennia ago by the Celestials. At D23, Marvel announced that the film will also introduce another C-list character: Kit Harington will be making his MCU debut as the Black Knight, wielder of the Ebony Blade. The Black Knight is one of the lesser-known Avengers, even though he led the team for a time in the '90s.
Surprisingly, there's a sense in which the Black Knight predates Marvel Comics itself. The original Black Knight was created by the late, great Stan Lee and artist Joe Maneely back in 1955, in a sword-and-sorcery comic set in the days of Camelot. It was published by Atlas Comics, a comic book label run by publisher Martin Goodman, which eventually evolved into Marvel.
The first Black Knight was Sir Percy of Scandia, and he starred in a sword-and-sorcery book set in the days of Camelot. Recruited by the wizard Merlin, Sir Percy was granted the mystical Ebony Blade, an enchanted sword forged from a meteorite; Sir Percy could not be harmed so long as he held the Ebony Blade, making him invincible in battle. He adopted a classic double identity, feigning incompetence in his "civilian" role, while secretly working against Arthur's traitorous nephew Mordred as the Black Knight.
Although the original Black Knight run only lasted five issues, Lee liked the concept, and chose to incorporate it into his superhero comics in the '60s. He revealed that the Ebony Blade had been passed down through the generations; it was initially wielded by a criminal called Nathan Garrett, and in 1967 Roy Thomas had the mantle passed on to the heroic Dane Whitman. That's the character Kit Harington is playing in Eternals.
All this means that Marvel Studios is now working with characters and concepts that actually predate Marvel Comics. It's as yet unclear whether or not Marvel will introduce Dane Whitman's heroic ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia, but given the MCU's love of Easter eggs it's likely there'll at least be a reference to him. Meanwhile, it's pleasing to see one of Joe Maneely's creations make his way on to the big screen. The artist tragically passed away in a train accident in 1958, and Stan Lee reflected that he believed Maneely would have been a household name like Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko had he been alive in the '60s. Now his legacy lives on, but on a scale Maneely could never have imagined.
- 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