Kit Harington’s Marvel Cinematic Universe role is out: The “Game of Thrones” star will play Dane Whitman, better known as the Black Knight, in “The Eternals.”
The news was announced Saturday at Disney’s biennial D23 Expo in Anaheim, California.
Created in 1966 by writer-editor Roy Thomas (best known for co-creating Luke Cage, and taking over as Marvel’s editor-in-chief after Stan Lee), and artists John Verpoorten and George Tuska, the Black Knight is one of Marvel’s more obscure characters and rather unique among his superheroic peers.
Whitman really is the Black Knight, or rather a descendant of the original Black Knight from Arthurian legend. He inherited the Black Knight mantle from his uncle, who was a supervillain and a member of the Masters of Evil. Whitman’s Black Knight joined the Masters of Evil to try to take them down from within, a move that eventually endeared him to the Avengers, which he subsequently joined.
Though Whitman is human, in the comics he falls in love with the Eternal called Sersi, the lead character in “Eternals,” who will be played by Gemma Chan in the film. Whitman becomes Sersi’s “Gann Josin,” which is a fancy term for soulmate. But it’s more than just a ceremonial thing like marriage — this relationship comes with a sort of telepathic union between the two.
Black Knight has no innate powers of his own, but gets some pretty cool abilities from certain possessions and even his relationships. When he’s bonded to Sersi, for instance, he receives a minor boost to his speed, strength and other traits. He’s an expert fighter and swordsman, and wields a magic sword called the Ebony Blade, which gives him immunity to magic — and to death. The Ebony Blade can also cut through most anything short of adamantium — the indestructible metal lacing Wolverine’s bones, which hasn’t been introduced (yet) in the MCU.
Perhaps most intriguing about the inclusion of Black Knight is that his origins are more or less based in Arthurian legend. The original Black Knight was Sir Percy of Scandia, who in Marvel Comics was part of King Arthur’s court in the 6th century, and the Ebony Blade was given to him by Merlin himself. Whitman’s Black Knight rides a winged horse named Strider which was given to him by the Lady of the Lake. So far, the MCU hasn’t established whether or not King Arthur actually existed in that world, but hey, Thor turned out to be real, so…
“The Rider” director Chloe Zhao will direct “The Eternals,” with Matthew and Ryan Firpo (“Ruin”) writing the script. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige is producing. TheWrap also first reported South Korean actor Ma Dong-seok, also known as Don Lee, will make his American film debut in the film.
Created by comic legend Jack Kirby in 1976, the Eternals are an ancient evolutionary offshoot of humanity whose long lives and colorful adventures inspired legends and myths over millennia.