Gotta love Kit Harington – even after leaving Westeros and Jon Snow far behind him when Game of Thrones ended, the boy still loves getting involved with a magic sword.
Or at least that’s how it appears in new Marvel movie Eternals, which stars Harington as side character and love interest Dane Whitman, who mainly exists to tease his girlfriend Sersi (Gemma Chan) without getting too involved with her world-saving antics.
However, the film’s second post-credits scene sets up Whitman as someone rather more important, based on his possession of a very special weapon.
Watch out – we’re dealing with some fairly big Eternals spoilers in this one.
What is the Ebony Blade?
During the course of the Eternals movie, an infamous sword – The Ebony Blade – is namechecked by a couple of the team when clearing through old artefacts now held in their spaceship. The sword they’re looking at isn’t the Ebony Blade as it turns out – it’s Excalibur – but the real thing turns up in the film’s second post-credits scene, in the possession of one Mr Whitman.
Kept wrapped up in a chest stamped with his family crest, the sword is clearly a family heirloom. But Dane is reluctant to pick it up, only beginning to do so (before being stopped by another mystery man) when he believes he can use it to save Sersi from her abduction at the end of the film.
So what makes this sword so special? Well, in the original comics it’s an ancient and partially cursed blade, created by Merlin (yes, that one) and handed down through the generations of Dane’s family. It’s capable of dispelling magic and protecting the user from harm, but on the flipside it also turns whoever holds it into a vicious, bloodthirsty brute who lives for death and vengeance (hence its motto in the film – “death is my reward”).
In other words, you can see why Dane might be a bit wary of picking it up. But somehow, we think he will take hold of it, and become his Avenging comic-book alter-ego The Black Knight.
Who is the Black Knight in Marvel comics?
There have been a few Black Knights in Marvel comics over the years (including a villainous version, Dane’s uncle, who is teased in Eternals) – but the main one to focus on is Dane Whitman. Essentially, in the comics Dane takes up his family sword and uses it to become a superhero modelled on the Knights of old, initially posing as a villain to take down his uncle’s old allies before going public and becoming a member of the Avengers.
Over the years Dane’s membership and heroism waxed and waned depending on the Ebony Blade’s influence on him. Once or twice he put it aside and fought with other weapons to protect his mind; other times he was able to fight off the curse with outside help; sometimes he did begin to lose himself, and had to step back from hero work.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the MCU version of Whitman follows this same trajectory, and where he might crop up next. Is he set to be a big part of an Eternals sequel, or could he be the Avengers’ new recruit?
Either way, one thing’s for sure – fans of Kit Harington looking a bit miserable in quasi-medieval gear are in for a good few years ahead of them. Who needs the King of the North when you have the Black Knight anyway?
Eternals is in UK cinemas now. For more, check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or our full TV Guide.