Breaking Down The Significance Of Black Knight's Ebony Blade

Who among us hasn't found themselves in a serious relationship with someone who turns out to be an ageless, seemingly immortal superhero and subsequently discovered that they, too, are destined for greater things as a result of their hidden ancestry and family legacy? Okay, yeah, that's a hell of a lot to throw at one seemingly minor supporting character over the course of a single movie. But hey, a superhero has to get their start somewhere!

Despite being left on the sidelines for almost the entirety of "Eternals," Kit Harington's Dane Whitman has been fully set up for future appearances to delve deeper into his nascent origin story as the Black Knight and wielder of the Ebony Blade. With Marvel's latest superhero movie finally arriving in theaters this weekend, fans and curious observers alike sure have their pick of Easter eggs, surprise appearances, and intriguing end credits scenes to enjoy. 

If you're eager to brush up on everything you need to know about Dane Whitman/Black Knight and his rich comic backstory, you've come to the right place! Be warned that significant spoilers for "Eternals" and its post-credits scenes will follow!

A Brief History of Black Knight

We've known for some time now that there was far more to Kit Harington's Dane Whitman than initially meets the eye, and that his role would only be expanded after "Eternals" introduced him to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Nevertheless, it was still a surprise when "Eternals" pointedly concluded on the shot of his utterly shocked face after the Celestial named Arimesh arrived near Earth to exact judgment on the Eternals. As it turns out, foiling the plans of an impossibly powerful and godlike being by preventing the birth of another planet-killing Celestial tends to have its consequences. Who knew!

The post-credits scene that eventually follows returns to Dane in his university office, nervously pacing in front of a crate that clearly holds special significance and is branded with a telltale symbol of a family crest. Before he's rudely interrupted by a very recognizable off-screen voice, Dane opens the crate to find a mystical sword that almost seems to be calling to him specifically. It's at this point that every comic reader in every audiences probably pointed at the screen and confidently said, "That's Black Knight!" Of course, the medieval-looking sword that captured his attention is very likely the Ebony Blade itself.

So what's the big deal about this reveal?

Well, first it's important to understand that the title of "Black Knight" doesn't actually belong to any one individual — it's passed down through the centuries to whichever descendants wield the magical (and cursed) sword. In Marvel Comics, the very first person to take up the mantle of Black Knight was a fellow by the name of Sir Percy of Scandia, a member of King Arthur's court. 

Though there have been many in the Marvel universe to claim the Black Knight title at one point or another over periods of history, the power-imbuing Ebony Blade eventually made its way to the hands of the villainous Nathan Garrett centuries later and, in turn, ultimately came to his nephew Dane Whitman. Upon passing the sword's test, Dane as the newest Black Knight would eventually battle the evil Mordred during the Crusades, join the ranks of the Avengers multiple times, pursue a love affair with the Eternal Sersi, and even end up fighting Dracula himself. Comics, folks!

The Powers of the Ebony Blade

The MCU has always kept an open mind when it comes to borrowing general ideas from the comics and otherwise adapting or modernizing as the creative team on any given movie sees fit. So, with the caveat that any future appearance of Dane Whitman could diverge markedly from the information laid out here, the Ebony Blade itself has traditionally been forged by the wizard Merlin and Sir Percy from a crashed meteorite. Its basic powers include the ability to slice through any object with ease, make its wielder immune to death, and resist magic. 

Unfortunately, there's also a trade-off (isn't there always?) in that the blade has been cursed to make anyone who dares use it become corrupted, susceptible to vices such as aggressiveness, violence, and a thirst for killing. Think of it as the cosmic opposite to Thor's hammer, Mjolnir. Instead of only the most worthy being able to pick it up, the Ebony Blade feeds on the negative emotions of the "impure of heart."

Broadly speaking, the Ebony Blade helps Black Knight travel through time and space (including into the body of ancestors who've previously used the weapon), gives the wielder a spiffy-looking suit of black armor, and increases strength to an almost superhuman level. It's no wonder Blade (the new Mahershala Ali version of the character, that is) comes out of nowhere in the "Eternals" post-credits scene to warn Dane as he's reaching out to the weapon, "Sure you're ready for that, Mr. Whitman?"

There's no telling how much of this background will be brought to the screen in whatever movies or shows Dane appears in next, whether it be the upcoming "Blade" reboot or a possible "Eternals" sequel or something else entirely. One thing's for sure, though: we haven't seen the last of Kit Harington in the MCU, and the tease of "Blade" indicates Marvel Studios' exciting commitment to going full supernatural on us. Bring it on!