Welcome back class, and thanks for coming back so soon. Those of you who haven’t seen Eternals can be excused as the rest of this lesson contains some spoilers. &Let’s begin.
We start right off going into the aforementioned spoilers, so if you haven’t seen &Eternals&, this is your last warning. (Slight admonishing finger shaking). &Firstly,& your professor was wrong about which Eternal would perhaps be responsible for helping the superhero team connect to the MCU. Obviously, it will not be Gilgamesh. Since Gilgamesh and Sersi have both been Avengers before though, it looks as if that task will be reserved for Gemma Chan’s, Sersi, or perhaps even the subject of this lesson: Dane Whitman.
&So who is Dane Whitman and why is his family history so complicated? He teased this fact in the movie and he’s not wrong at all. In fact, the uncle that Sersi advised Dane to mend fences with, Nathan Garrett, is the former, more villainous version of the Black Knight. He also goes unnamed in the film but since you guys are special, I decided to fill you in on that little bit of trivia. So what exactly makes a Black Knight? Good question, I’m glad you asked. We actually saw the responsible item in the final post-credit scene: The Ebony Blade.
In the scene, we see Dane, conflicted and angry that his girlfriend Sersi was just kidnapped by Arishem, struggling on whether to grasp the blade, which appears alive and somewhat liquid. As he is about to grasp it and become the Black Knight, an off-screen voice throws a cautious warning his way. Thanks to Academy Award-winning director Chlo&é Zhao, we now know this voice belongs to another Oscar winner, Mahershala Ali, or Blade as we will learn to call him shortly.
First appearing in the comics within the pages of 1967’s Avengers #47 , The Black Knight is a pivotal figure in the books and has been at the heart of several stories and battles. He also touts a rather impressive arsenal. Dane has a winged steed he calls Aragorn, as well as an energy projecting javelin, and has even wielded Excalibur itself. The Ebony Blade though, his main weapon, is a double-edged sword indeed. The sword, itself is a double-edged weapon, but more than that, it possesses immense power, but at a cost. The sword contains within it a curse that for so long as you use it and as it spills blood on enemies, you lose your soul to it, slowly. Erratic behavior, fits of rage and violence, all side effects of a very powerful object indeed.
The powers are quite vast though. The user becomes immortal, can absorb energy, as well as enemy souls, making the blade and user stronger, offers protection from the mystic arts, produces an armor that specifically resembles a Klyntar (Venom’s race of beings), as well as much more. Dane eventually figures out that the weapon is cursed, and builds a ‘faux’ version of the blade. This version spares the cost to his soul, while at the same time obviously sacrificing some of the power and abilities the original contains. Additionally, Dane himself is a fairly strong individual without power ups. He has a great understanding of physics, possessing a high degree in the field. He is also an excellent swordsman.
Coming to no surprise to anyone, a character that has been around since 1967 with a lineage that goes back to Medieval times has a lot of ground to cover. From being a Hero for Hire, to a Defender, an Avenger, and even at one time, while perpetuating a trick, he was a Master of Evil. He has indeed covered a lot of ground, but there are a couple of very interesting stories that he was very much the main figure in. The stories are especially interesting because it involves a direction in which the MCU is currently headed and involves a story that can be easily changed to adopt an appropriate backdrop.
First let’s look at the story that could possibly be changed to help introduce Dane to the rest of the MCU, even using his relationship with Sersi to accomplish it. There is a story that involves them both as well as an evil version of the Avengers called The Gatherers. Sersi and Dane explore their relationship after some intense events. It starts with an attack on the Kree homeworld by the Avengers. Dane himself lands the killing blow to the leader of the Kree. These events create a rift in the Avengers causing Captain America to leave and casting Dane into the role, albeit temporarily, of leader of the group. Here is where he falls in love with Sersi, but just like an episode of Jerry Springer gone wrong, he develops feelings for Crystal, a member of the Inhumans. Much like Angelina Jolie’s, Thena, in &Eternals&, Sersi starts becoming unstable and more aggressive due to a virus called the Mahd W’yry.
A process called Gann Josin is used to bond Sersi and Dane, which does enhance his abilities. He resents this bond being imposed on him, and during the bond realizes his feelings for Crystal. It’s eventually revealed that Proctor, the leader of The Gatherers instilled the disease in Sersi in a mission to kill all Sersis from all universes. In the end, Dane goes into a pocket universe with Sersi to help her through the crisis and to avoid coming between Crystal and her husband. Examining this, there are a couple of ways this can be adjusted to the current MCU. While I doubt they will use The Gatherers, Marvel would likely elect to employ The Thunderbolts for the role. It’s no secret that Marvel is actively putting that team of ‘heroes’ together for future use, and this would be a great story to tell.&
One of the main storylines we see Dane in, however, is one that involves the next big bad of the MCU: Kang the Conqueror. Dane will likely be of great use to the team as they come closer to the conflict with Kang. In the comics, Kang is given the ‘power of death’ over the Avengers, a gift bestowed upon him by Grandmaster, Jeff Goldblum’s character in the movies. At the time of the story, The Black Knight was not a member of the Avengers. As the time-traveling villain is giving our heroes fits, Dane steps in and is easily able to defeat him, as Kang isn’t aware of who he is, or what he is capable of. This will likely be used, at least in part, as we get closer to the final conflict with Kang which is still quite a while from now, as his variant has only been introduced thus far in &Loki&.
&There you have it, a look at The Black Knight. When we will likely see him next has not been confirmed, but more than likely it would be &Ant-Man and the Wasp III: Quantumania& or &Blade&. &Were you excited about this character, played by Kit Harrington? Drop your comments below, and let me know which upcoming characters you might like to read a Comic Book 101 about. Class dismissed.