Who Is Black Knight? Kit Harington's MCU Character Explained

  A photo-shopped image of Kit Harington from Game of Thrones (2011-2019) with the Marvel Studios logo behind him (red background, white logo, with slight, black vignette)

Originally written By Thomas Bacon for Screen Rant

Kit Harington will make his MCU debut as the Black Knight in Marvel's Eternals, which releases on November 6, 2020. In the comics, Black Knight has hardly been an A-list superhero; although he's served as a member of the Avengers, he's never had the same kind of prominence as the likes of Iron Man and Captain America. For all that's the case, though, Black Knight is shaping up to be key to the MCU's future.

The first Black Knight was created by Stan Lee and Joe Maneely back in 1955, and was published by Atlas Comics, the company that eventually became Marvel. These early adventures were set in the days of King Arthur. Decades later, Marvel Comics recognized the concept's potential. They incorporated a modern version of the Black Knight into the present day - and that character, Dane Whitman, is the one who's been absorbed into the MCU.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has embraced magic and the supernatural since 2016's Doctor Strange, but the Black Knight brings an Arthurian element that's not been seen before. Here's everything you need to know about Marvel's ultimate sword-and-sorcery hero.

BLACK KNIGHT’S COMIC ORIGIN

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A scientist swept into a world of romantic adventure and mysticism, Dane Whitman is heir to a legacy that stretches back to the days of King Arthur. The first Black Knight, Sir Percy of Scandia, was a champion who had been chosen by Merlin himself. Merlin gave Sir Percy a gift, an enchanted blade forged from a meteorite, and Sir Percy used it in Camelot's defense. Unfortunately, the so-called Ebony Blade acquired a terrible curse because of all the blood Sir Percy shed with it. After Sir Percy's untimely death at the hands of Mordred, the Ebony Blade passed down his line through the generations.

Dane Whitman first learned of the Ebony Blade when he was summoned to his ancestral home, Garrett Castle, by his uncle Nathan Garrett. To Dane's surprise, his uncle confessed that he was secretly the supervillain who called himself the Black Knight, and that he'd pursued a life of crime to spite his ancestor. The dying Garrett charged Dane to adopt the mantle in his honor, and to attempt to redeem the name of the Black Knight. Taking up the Ebony Blade, Dane Whitman did just that, soon proving himself to be a capable ally - and ultimately member - of the Avengers.

BLACK KNIGHT’S COMIC POWERS

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Dane Whitman is an ordinary human being, albeit a brilliant physicist. His weapon of choice is the Ebony Blade, an apparently indestructible enchanted sword that can cut through any substance and disrupt energy fields due to its mystical properties. Unfortunately, long-term use of the Ebony Blade has a negative effect of the mental stability of the wearer, a result of the blood curse. The Ebony Blade's malevolent influence is strengthened by the shedding of blood, for which it has an insatiable appetite; at one time it actually turned even the noble Dane Whitman into a serial killer. 

Whitman's Black Knight is known for wielding certain other mystic weapons as well, notably the Sword of Light and the Shield of Night. These were gifts from the Lady of the Lake, and are enchanted to act in concert; the shield can absorb energy directed at it and the sword can be used to project said energy as destructive beams. In the '90s the Black Knight briefly chose to ditch magic and use a laser sword that Whitman had developed himself instead.

As the heir to Sir Percy's legacy, Dane Whitman sometimes has help from an unexpected source; the ghost of Sir Percy of Scandia, who acts as an adviser to all those who carry the mantle of Black Knight. There have also been times when the Black Knight has rode a magical winged horse, akin to those used by the Valkyries.

BLACK KNIGHT’S CONNECTION TO THE ETERNALS

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Dane Whitman actually became leader of one incarnation of the Avengers, and it was while there that he wound up in a slightly confused romantic relationship with the Eternal named Sersi. The Eternals suffer from a mental condition referred to as the Mahd Wy'ry; a result of their immortality, their still-human minds break down under the strain of their almost limitless knowledge. Sersi began to suffer from the Mahd Wy'ry, and in order to save her, the Eternals bonded her psyche with the Black Knight's. Dane was unwilling to become bonded to Sersi this way and resented it, but he was far too chivalrous to openly object.

Unfortunately, the result was a very strange, confused romance that ran over the course of the next few years. Making matters worse, Sersi developed the ability to traverse dimensions, and soon Black Knight and Sersi were exploring the Multiverse together. The bond was eventually broken, but many of the Black Knight's most important stories feature Sersi as a love interest.

KIT HARINGTON PLAYS BLACK KNIGHT IN THE MCU

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Kit Harington has been cast as the MCU's Black Knight, and the actor is certainly no stranger to the sword-and-sorcery genre; he's best known for his performance as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, a role for which he's received significant acclaim and even two Emmy nominations. There's a sense in which Marvel is casting to type, but Black Knight offers a lot of variance from the put-upon Bastard of Winterfell.

BLACK KNIGHT IN MARVEL’S ETERNALS MOVIE (& BEYOND)

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Marvel's long toyed with introducing the character of the Black Knight. In fact, their prop team designed the Ebony Blade for 2016's Doctor Strange, where it was intended to be one of the relics kept at Kamar-Taj. In the end, they didn't use it, perhaps because Marvel Studios decided they'd want to introduce the Black Knight himself sooner or later. Kit Harington's Black Knight will make his MCU debut in Marvel's Eternals in 2020, reuniting with Game of Thrones co-star Richard Madden, who plays the Eternal named Ikaris. The casting choice was announced with great fanfare at D23, seeming to suggest that the Black Knight has a future as an MCU brand of his own. Given the MCU looks set to go Multiversal in Phase 4, it makes sense for Marvel to introduce a hero known for traveling through both time and space.