The MCU teased a mysterious future for its “Mr. Whitman” character in Marvel’s Eternals movie. Who is Dane Whitman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Played by Kit Harington, Dane Whitman was one of the only two humans in the movie to have an important role in the story, with the other being Kingo’s valet, Karun (Harish Patel). However, being a mere mortal doesn’t mean that Harington’s Dane Whitman won’t end up making a mark on the MCU at some point or another.
Introduced as Sersi’s boyfriend in the modern era, Dane was revealed to be a historian and a professor who worked at the Natural History Museum. Before the battle with the Deviants even began, Dane was able to deduce that his girlfriend was much more than what she appeared to be. He was placed on the sidelines while Sersi (Gemma Chan) went off to save the world. Dane only had a minor presence in Eternals, but it eventually became clear that he has a story of his own to be told.
Dane’s comment to Sersi about having a “complicated” family history and a secret he needed to tell her signaled that Marvel was setting up a big reveal with his character. In the post-credits scene with Dane looking at the black-bladed sword, the voice of Mahershala Ali’s Blade asked “Mr. Whitman” if he was sure he was ready for it. Here’s why someone like Blade would be interested in Dane, what his “complicated” family history really is, and which Marvel Comics character he’s fated to become in the MCU’s future.
Dane Whitman Is Black Knight In Marvel Comics
Who is Dane Whitman in Marvel Comics? In the 1960s, Hank Pym and Iron Man battled Nathan Garett aka Black Knight, an evil scientist who wielded an energy-powered lance and rode a mutated flying horse. Following his death, his mantle was taken up by Dane Whitman, who was introduced as an American physicist and Garrett’s estranged nephew. Dressed in a redesigned version of his uncle’s armor, Dane assumed the “Black Knight” title and discovered an ancient sword known as the Ebony Blade in his uncle’s castle. Years later, Dane became a full-time member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and a principal character in Marvel’s Avengers comic. Before long, he earned a reputation as the greatest swordfighter in the Marvel Universe.
As his relationship with the team and his fellow heroes deepened, Black Knight’s role grew. By the early 1990s, Black Knight was the field leader of the Avengers and the face of their comic book title. Featured at the center of several of their biggest stories in the decade, Black Knight formed a love triangle with Sersi and Crystal and led the Avengers through several adventures. But the problem that has plagued him for the longest is without question the Ebony Blade, which carries a blood curse. Because it feeds on his soul every time it sheds blood, Dane spent much of his time resisting the sword’s evil taint and avoiding killing.
Who Dane Whitman’s Family Is In Marvel Comics
Marvel’s Eternals movie secretly referenced Dane’s comic book predecessor when Sersi brought up his strained relationship with his uncle. It seems that whatever happened when Dane spoke to his uncle is what brought the sword into the picture. Obviously, the sword is the Ebony Blade that Dane wielded through most of his superhero career. In both the comics and now the MCU, the Ebony Blade is linked to Dane Whitman and Nathan Garrett’s bloodline. It was explained in the comics that the characters are direct descendants of Sir Percy of Scandia, the original Black Knight from the 1950s comics and a defender of Camelot.
During the Arthurian era, the Ebony Blade was forged from a black meteorite and enchanted by Merlin. Eventually, it was discovered that the sword secretly bore an evil curse that slowly corrupts its wielders. This was a secret that Merlin kept from Sir Percy. After Percy died, the Ebony Blade and the Black Knight mantle was passed down for generations. Unfortunately, many of Sir Percy’s successors didn’t match his moral character and succumbed to the sword’s dark influence. One such character was Garrett, who was a respectable scientist before the curse ruined him. Determined to restore his uncle’s good name and redeem the tattered legacy of the Black Knight, Dane strove to do better than his ancestors. Admittedly, Dane has stumbled a few times along the way, but even now, he still maintains his heroic reputation in Marvel Comics.
What Dane Whitman’s MCU Future Could Be
Dane obtaining the Ebony Blade indicates that the MCU is in the process of transitioning its take on the character into the sword-wielding superhero he’s known to be in the comic books. Based on his exchange with Sersi concerning his uncle, it appears that the circumstances behind his Black Knight transformation will be inspired by the comics. Why Dane didn’t get along with his uncle wasn’t explained, but it’s possible that the reason was linked to the effects of the Ebony Blade’s blood curse. Now, the sword has seemingly been passed from the MCU’s Nathan Garrett to Dane. As for his trademark armor, it’s possible that he’ll acquire that from Garrett as well.
Marvel raised some interesting questions about why Dane will become Black Knight by incorporating Blade into the character’s MCU arc. His warning to Dane implies that he understands the cost of picking up the sword. For this reason, he might be in a good position to dissuade Dane from using it. That being said, it could be that certain events – such as Sersi being captured – might convince Dane to ignore the consequences and become the new Black Knight regardless. Either way, Blade could as a guide on his journey. If that happens, Dane could have a role to play to in Blade’s upcoming solo movie.
Blade isn’t the only option available to Marvel when it comes to Dane’s future after Eternals. Aside from a potential Eternals 2, there’s also a chance that the studio may be interested in giving the character his own Disney+ series. Given all the efforts Marvel has made to expand its TV show lineup, Black Knight certainly feels like a candidate for his own MCU project. If he were to be the central character, the show would have sufficient time to dive into the history of his ancestors, the Ebony Blade’s blood curse, and more. Perhaps in an addition to a Black Knight TV series, Dane could wind up on the roster of the MCU’s next Avengers team. In Avengers 5 (or later), Dane could follow in the footsteps of his comic counterpart and lead Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Black Knight’s Powers Explained
Eternals features several characters with the potential to become Avengers-level threats, but in reality, the most dangerous factor that Eternals drops into the MCU is the extremely powerful and cursed Ebony Blade, the source of Black Knight’s powers. Forged from Starstone meteorite by the hands of the legendary Merlin, the Ebony Blade is able to cut through any non-enchanted material and bestow various magical powers upon its wielder. However, all this comes at a heavy price. As the chest containing the Ebony Blade in Eternals‘ post-credits scene reads “Death is my Reward.” While the Ebony Blade essentially allows Black Knight to become a god, it also slowly corrupts whoever uses it, causing them to lust for bloodshed and death. Should the wielder succumb to this blood curse, both the wielder and the Ebony Blade will only become more powerful. That said, as the Ebony Blade draws its power from the wielder’s soul, Marvel Comics’ Dane Whitman was able to use it to become a hero and even lead the Avengers. It remains to be seen whether the MCU’s Dane Whitman will become more of a superhero or succumb to the bloodlust to transform into an Avengers-level threat.
Eternals‘ Ebony Blade continues the deliberate inclusion of magical elements in the MCU, as heavily featured in WandaVision and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Essentially existing as the dark counterpart to Marvel’s Excalibur, the only materials that the Ebony Sword cannot cut through are enchanted objects and Black Knight himself. While wielding the Ebony Sword, Black Knight can still be injured, but he can only be killed by another weapon forged from Starstone. As Dane Whitman is of Arthurian blood, the Ebony Sword can resurrect him, provided he’s holding the blade when he dies. The Ebony Sword can also deflect and absorb magical attacks to make the Black Knight stronger, and in full power, the sword encases its wielder in black armor. Because the sword and the wielder’s soul are linked, Black Knight has the power to move the blade with his mind, or teleport to the sword’s location. Lastly, Black Knight can use the Ebony Blade’s dark energies to open doorways to other dimensions, similar to American Chavez’s powers in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Although Dane Whitman only had a minor role in Eternals, Black Knight’s MCU future will be game-changing.
Black Knight Nearly Appeared In Moon Knight
Dane Whitman was almost featured in the 6-episode Moon Knight series after Eternals, but head writer Jeremy Slater ultimately decided against it because there was no space in the series to introduce and establish two potentially major superheroes. In an interview, Slater explained that if Kit Harington “doesn’t suit up and he doesn’t kick ass, as a fan I’m pissed off. If I see him show up I want to see him go full Black Knight.” Indeed, considering how the series had to focus on worldbuilding to lay solid foundations for Moon Knight‘s complex MCU future, there was simply no room for Dane Whitman’s Black Knight to also suit up in the first two episodes. Though both Dane Whitman and Steven Grant work in museums, this wasn’t enough for the connection to make sense, so Black Knight’s Moon Knight appearance was ultimately scrapped. That said, Dane and Steven’s mutual interest in ancient history could still put them in each other’s paths somewhere down the line.
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