Black Knight: Who is the Avenging Knight?

‘Tis But A Scratch

Black Knight:As long as the Black Blade blazes brightly in my hand, I must fight on… no matter the cost!

Marvel Super-Heroes #17

A swarm of monsters attacks a city. Nightmares of every description run rampant and kill everyone they encounter. A flock of wyverns chases a young couple and their daughter. One of the beasts snatches the child and soars into the air as her parents scream for help. The wyvern roars in triumph before a dark blade severs its head.

A gauntlet-clad hand grabs the falling girl and pulls her to a saddle atop a winged horse. Looking up, she sees a knight in black, who cuts down two more wyverns while leading the horse to her parents. The girl dismounts and runs to her parents. The Black Knight spies another flock and takes flight with a bloodthirsty gleam in his eyes.

The Black Knight is one of the most morally ambiguous Avengers. He is the latest in a long line of Black Knights and seeks to redeem the title’s honor. So who is he? How did he become a knight? What is the Ebony Blade? To arms, squire! It’s time to find out.

Knightfall: The Black Knight’s Backstory

Dane:Long-forgotten stories tell of an original Black Knight who stood between King Arthur and the evil ambitions of his nephew, Mordred. I don’t know if they are true or merely glittering legends. Still, how I long to battle Magneto by myself and prove that I am worthy of being called a knight!

The Avengers #48

There have been five Black Knights in Marvel comics, but we’re focusing on Dane Whitman, the version appearing in 2021’s movie The Eternals.

The Black Knight debuted in The Avengers #47 in 1967. He was created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, who drew inspiration from the archetypal character from Arthurian legend. Later writers gave The Black Knight a personality remarkably similar to the hero of Michael Moorcock’s The Elric Saga. His cursed Ebony Blade is a dead ringer for Elric’s demonic sword, Stormbringer. So is this artistic inspiration or character theft? You make the call!

Dane Whitman was a scientist who was summoned to his family’s ancestral home. His dying uncle told Dane that he was a descendant of the legendary Black Knight. The uncle had used the identity to commit crimes until he was mortally wounded fighting Iron Man. Dane accepted his uncle’s last wish to redeem their honor by becoming the new Black Knight.

Black Knight battled The Avengers, who mistook him for his uncle. He convinced them to give him a shot, earning their approval by infiltrating The Masters of Evil and saving them from Kang the Conqueror. 

Dane eventually discovered the Ebony Blade, the Black Knight’s traditional weapon. Unfortunately, the sword was cursed and drained the wielder’s sanity if it was used to draw blood. Black Knight created a laser sword and only drew the Ebony Blade when its powers were needed.

Curse of the Knight: Black Knight’s History

Black Knight: “[The Avengers] …they’re strong and they’re good. That’s their whole thing. A-and that’s the problem. That’s why I’ll never have their respect. I want to be good like them. I want to change the world for the better… but I’m only strong when I’m hateful.”

Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #1

Black Knight grew close to Sersi, his Avenger teammate and member of The Eternals. She eventually created a psychic bond between them, strengthening him and allowing them to communicate telepathically.

Several missions forced Black Knight to use the Ebony Blade. This eroded his sanity and left him prone to berserker rages. He eventually found his way to a parallel dimension called Weirdworld, where he deposed an evil king and founded New Avalon. The Avengers accepted this coup because his reign seemed to help his mental condition and he was improving his subjects’ lives.

Black Knight learned the truth about the Ebony Blade’s curse during the event The King in Black. A dark god called Knull revealed that the blade was never cursed. It is an evil sword that can only be used by someone who is corrupt. The revelation shook Dane, and he began searching for information about the weapon’s origins.

The Ebony Blade: Black Knight’s Powers and Personality

Knull:That’s the legacy of your kin, boy. You’ve had it wrong the whole time. The Ebony Blade can only be wielded to its mightiest potential by those impure of heart.”

King in Black: Black Knight #1

Dane Whitman is a skilled scientist, swordfighter, horse rider, and inventor. He created a lightsaber-esque “neural blade” and has used a photon shield and his uncle’s power lance. He owns three genetically altered winged horses that he rides into battle.

The Ebony Blade is the Black Knight’s signature weapon. It can cut through nearly anything, deflect lasers, absorb energy and souls, and wound intangible foes. At full power, it manifests a suit of armor around the wielder, allowing them to fly and resurrect if killed. Knull has implied the Ebony Blade has more powers that Dane has not discovered.

The Ebony Blade’s downside is that it is self aware and delights in corrupting those who use it. The “curse” that only activates when it sheds blood seems to have been a game. The Ebony Blade will turn its wielder into a mindless monster intent on nothing but slaughter if given the chance.

Despite his impure heart, The Black Knight is a hero. He comports himself with honor even as his sanity erodes. He approaches everything with a scientific mindset and holds himself to a high standard.

The Actors Who Play Black Knight

Kit Harrington – The Eternals

Didya Get All That?

Marvel’s Dark Knight.

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