Eternals Screenwriters On How Dane Whitman Made It Into The Movie [Exclusive]

"Eternals" teases big things for Dane Whitman, played by Kit Harrington. But for the most part, his decidedly human character takes a back seat to Marvel's team of 7,000-year-old cosmic superheroes. There are no less than ten heroes on that team, so the movie is already overstuffed with new faces. If you're unfamiliar with Whitman's comics history with Sersi (Gemma Chan), you may have wondered what the point of his character was beyond providing us with a love triangle and a "Game of Thrones" reunion between Harrington and Richard Madden, who plays Ikaris.

In his interview with "Eternals" screenwriters Kaz and Ryan Firpo, /Film's Jacob Hall asked about the process that led to Whitman's inclusion in "Eternals," whether it was part of their design, or if uber-producer Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios have greater plans for Whitman. Kaz said:

"I think Marvel has this great gift where there's never a conversation where Kevin comes down, it's the hand of God, he says, this must be. I think it's always a conversation. People are sort of discovering things about their stories. Marvel is an incredible iterator. They sort of treat movies like Pixar movies. And I say this. They treat them like they have this Pixar brain trust where they're constantly refining, making things better, punching jokes, adding new stuff down to the 11th hour. And I think that's the secret sauce that makes these movies really special.

There's no algorithm that makes a Marvel movie great. And in the case, particularly in Dane, it really was like, he has a long comic history with Sersi as, that's her boyfriend, as her illiteral murderer in one crazy run where he tracks her through the multiverse, murdering all the different versions of Sersi."

"There's so much connected tissue to air"

Kaz elaborated further on Whitman's inclusion in "Eternals," mentioning Patrick Burleigh and director Chloe Zhao, who helped co-write the script. 

This part touches on some spoilers from the very end of the movie, so be forewarned:

"[Dane]'s just a character that has a rich connection and there's so much connected tissue to air. And there were drafts we wrote with his boyfriend character where it sort of became obvious that, we spent so little time with him, maybe there's a way to give him that greater significance, more depth, and bring him back, or use him more fully knowing that the structure of this movie, he's going to be this mortal human, this sort of love anchor that gets left behind. And so that became sort of a logical conclusion to say, from Marvel, from Disney, and I think when Chloe and Patrick did their pass and just had this conversation about, can we make this character have some deeper roots? And that's where Dane just became an obvious choice. And then, when you pair him up with Blade, I think they're going to have a fun time."

In "Eternals," Lauren Ridloff's character, Makkari, has Excalibur in her collection of historical artifacts, but it's another sword, the Ebony Blade, that shows up in the post-credits scene. Whitman hovers over it, confirming for us that he's going places as Black Knight. This is something Harrington echoed when /Film's Hoai-Tran Bui interviewed him, saying "Eternals" is "an introduction to a larger story" for Black Knight. Mahershala Ali's Blade chimes in from offscreen, asking Whitman if he's sure he's ready for that. 

"Eternals" is the last place you might expect Marvel's resident vampire hunter to pop up, and hearing Blade's voice isn't quite the same as seeing Samuel L. Jackson in his Nick Fury eyepatch at the end of "Iron Man." However, in terms of introducing connected tissue — which is Marvel's specialty — it gets the job done.

"Eternals" is in theaters now.