You Know Nothing…about the Black Knight.
So it seems that the Black Knight is joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in The Eternals. This is a bit surprising considering that the classic Marvel Comics Black Knight really has very little to do with the world of the Eternals. But, Dane Whitman, the Avenger known as the Black Knight, is a great character with a rich and surprising history that stretches back to the early days of Marvel. Now, there is some history with the Eternals which we will get to in a bit, but not enough to make the Black Knight’s inclusion in the movie anything but surprising.
So, let us go on a regal and honorable quest and check out the history of Marvel’s latest cinematic champion: the Black Knight. Along the way, we’ll indulge in some speculation on how this swashbuckling swordsman could impact the MCU and The Eternals.
The First of His Name
Dane Whitman wasn’t the first hero to hold the name. The first Black Knight was Sir Percy of Scandia, a knight of Camelot. This early Marvel legend first appeared in Black Knight #1 (May 1955) and was created by Stan Lee and Joe Maneely. There were very few costumed heroes in these bygone days of the ’50s, so Black Knight remains a little explored gem of a comic.
Sir Percy was a Knight of the Round Table who proudly served King Arthur and fought threats like Mordred and Morgan Le Fey, two villains who would appear years later in the Marvel Universe. The Black Knight wielded the Ebony Blade, a magic sword carved from a meteor by Merlin himself. Later, it is revealed that Percy was killed by Mordred and the mantle of the Black Knight began to be passed down to the fallen knight’s descendants. Some did him proud, but one darkened the once heroic name.
The Blackest of Nights
The Black Knight who would go on to join the Masters of Evil first appeared in Tales to Astonish #52 (1964) and was created by Stan Lee and Dick Ayers. One of Percy’s descendants, Nathan Garrett, a brilliant research scientist, led a spy ring until he was defeated by Giant Man (that’s Hank Pym, folks). Disgraced, Garrett ran to Europe where he found the tomb of Sir Percy. Garrett was rejected by the Ebony Blade because of his dickheel tendencies. Embittered, he became a new Black Knight, but profaned Percy’s good name by becoming a villainous facsimile of Camelot’s champion.
Instead of wielding the magic of Camelot, Garrett built weapons like a blaster lance and other hi-tech medieval nonsense. He also created a genetically engineered flying horse named Aragorn because I guess even villains like Tolkien? But yeah, dude, don’t sell your method of making flying horses to make cheese, rob banks! The second Black Knight was a douche. Anyway, Garrett was again defeated by Giant Man, the Avengers, and Iron Man. In his final battle with Tony Stark, Garrett fell from Aragorn and was mortally wounded. Dying, Garrett summoned his nephew Dane Whitman which brings us to our man of the hour…
Avengers, Hero, Eternal?
So is Dane Whitman, the third Marvel character to use the moniker of Black Knight an Eternal? No, he is not. So who the hell is he?
Whitman is the nephew of Nathaniel Garrett. When the evil Black Knight lay dying after his battle with Iron Man, he summoned Whitman to see his side. There, Garrett made a face turn and begged Garrett to take the mantle of the Black Knight to restore honor to Sir Percy’s legacy. Whitman created his own costume, adapted some of Garrett’s weapons, saddled up Aragorn and became the new, modern Black Knight.
This all happens in Avengers #47 (1967) by writer Roy Thomas and artists John Verpoorten and George Tuska. In his first adventure, the Avengers mistake Whitman for Garrett and a superhero smackdown ensues. To prove his worth, Whitman infiltrates the Masters of Evil and helps the Avengers. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes offer Whitman membership and the heroic legacy of Black Knight begins again.
Over the years, Black Knight has appeared in a handful of memorable stories. He was the catalyst of The Avengers/Defenders War when each team raced to find a cure after Whitman turns to stone thanks to a kiss by the Enchantress. Black Knight focused stories were few and far between even though the character was seemingly ever present in Avengers and early issues of Defenders. The first major change to Whitman came in Doctor Strange #68–69 (1984) by Roger Stern and Paul Smith where Whitman finally finds the Ebony Blade, the Merlin-forged sword of Sir Percy.
The Ebony Blade is more of a curse since if the sword draws even a drop of blood, Whitman will be horribly cursed. With this tragic twist, Whitman rejoins the Avengers and becomes a member in good standing until Namor uses the sword to draw blood. Whitman is cursed and begins to transform into the same metal used to forge the Ebony Blade. What’s with Black Knight petrifying? It’s a whole thing.
Anyway, Whitman is cured by the ghost of Sir Percy and creates a high tech laser sword for himself. Yes, essentially, Black Knight began wielding a lightsaber. I swear to Kirby, if Kit Harington wields a lightsaber in these movies…
So What is the Black Knight Connection to the Eternals?
So where does all this fit in with Eternals lore? At one point, Black Knight became the leader of the Avengers. At the time, the roster experienced a major shakeup with a number of new members that included Crystal of the Inhumans and Sersi of the Eternals. As members of the Avengers, Black Knight and Sersi became lovers as the Eternal sorceress took a liking to the scion of Camelot. Sadly, a love triangle begins when Whitman develops feelings for Crystal and a whole mess follows. A villain named Proctor complicated matters further. This convoluted baddie was an alternate universe version of Whitman possessed by the Ebony Blade. To battle Proctor, Sersi and Whitman undergo an Eternal process called gann josin which bonds Sersi and the Knight together.
So, for a short time, Whitman gains Eternal power and really, the whole thing is an overwritten mess because that’s ’90s comics for ya. But, this whole gann josin stuff creates a bond between Black Knight and Eternals lore. Could the film versions of the Knight and Sersi be lovers? In the comics, Sersi had a profound impact on Whitman. After they bonded, Sersi turned Black Knight’s heart to “stone” (again with the petrifying!) so he could remain emotionally removed from humanity and better serve the world as a champion.
The Eternal Future
As if this wasn’t crazy enough, Black Knight eventually joined a team known as MI: 13, a British agency that battles the supernatural. There, Whitman believes he once again bonds with the Ebony Blade, but it turns out the sword is a fake forged by Dracula (!) with the purpose of corrupting Whitman. The Black Knight is too strong for the blade and uses the vampiric sword to battle Dracula’s forces. At this time, Black Knight also meets and falls in love with Faiza Hussain, a doctor who becomes Black Knight’s squire and eventually wields the blade Excalibur because good lord comics are awesome.
So what role can be play in Marvel’s The Eternals?
Could the braintrust of the MCU combine the legacies of Percy and Whitman, revealing that Whitman is immortal, an act that would truly make Black Knight Eternal? Think about it, the Black Knight could have fought in Camelot as Sir Percy (and don’t forget, Black Knight’s armor showed up as an easter egg in Spider-Man: Far From Home) but also live in the modern world as Whitman. Will Sersi and Whitman continue their troubled romance? I guess we’ll learn next November as the saga of Marvel’s Black Knight takes a giant step forward when Eternals hits theaters.
As long as Whitman doesn’t turn to stone in the first act.
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