Kit Harington’s ‘Eternals’ Character Is a Marvel Mainstay

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Photo credit: Marvel Studios
Photo credit: Marvel Studios
  • The teaser trailer for Eternals showed a lot, including one brief glimpse of Kit Harington in character.

  • The movie will be directed by Academy Award-winner Chloé Zhao and will be the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • Harington is playing Dane Whitman, a longtime Marvel Comics hero with the alter ego of Black Knight.

If you were watching the first teaser trailer for Eternals, and thought you saw a quick glimpse of Jon Snow himself—Kit Harington—but with a new haircut, do not be alarmed. You are not losing it; the Game of Thrones star is, indeed, in Eternals, perhaps even with some scenes making for a long-awaited reunion with fellow Thrones star and Eternals castmate Richard Madden.

The teaser for Eternals, is, well, a teaser, so we don't get too much information on what the movie is about, or what anyone's character is really all about. But while we see multiple glimpses of Gemma Chan's Sersi or Madden's Ikaris (for just a couple answers), we really just get a second of Harington, here playing Dane Whitman/Black Knight.

One thing you can feel certain about from the trailer, though: like many Game of Thrones episodes, Eternals will be wonderfully directed. Chloé Zhao, who is the reigning Best Director Oscar winner for her work on Nomadland, littered the teaser trailer with wonderful visuals, and even Harington's brief moment next to Chan (as Sersi) is striking.

But in case if you wanted to know a little bit more about Harington's first post-Thrones blockbuster, we've got you covered. His character goes way back in the comics, but has never reached the popularity of someone like Spider-Man or Captain America. Perhaps his entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe can change that.

Photo credit: Marvel Studios
Photo credit: Marvel Studios

Kit Harington is playing Black Knight in Eternals

When it first leaked in August 2019 that Harington would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it wasn't immediately clear which movie he was signing on for, or which character he would be playing. Some speculation even wondered if perhaps he could be the MCU's new Wolverine; Harington, listed at 5'8'' on IMDB (and that's probably a bit generous) would be a lot closer to the X-Men icon's comic height (in the 5'3'' to 5'5'' range) than Hugh Jackman ever was.

Alas, this wasn't the case; Harington was revealed at the 2019 D23 Expo to be playing Dane Whitman, the third iteration of the Black Knight, in Eternals. While Whitman does sound similar to Harington's iconic turn as Jon Snow, the actor seems to think that outside of some of the more obvious aesthetic similarities, the comparisons should mostly stop there. (Even just broadly, Whitman is a contemporary character, while Thrones is of course set in a different time and setting.)

"Now I'm going with a Marvel movie. I'm going on to play a superhero, which is cool. I don't know what I can say about it, I'm scared to sort of even mention it," Harington said during a panel back in 2019, according to Comic Book. "I'm trying to choose things as far away from Jon Snow as possible, but I'm playing a superhero and he's got a sword."

Who is Dane Whitman/Black Knight in the comics?

In Eternals, Harington will play a man named Dane Whitman, who has the superpowered alter ego of Black Knight (and no relation to the 2001 Martin Lawrence comedy of the same name). This is an old Marvel Comics character, having first been introduced in The Avengers #47 way back in December of 1967.

Photo credit: Marvel Comics
Photo credit: Marvel Comics

The Dane Whitman Black Knight, who Harington will be portraying in the film, is actually the third version of the character in the traditional Marvel Comics canon; the original Black Knight was a Medieval-era knight, and one of that Black Knight's descendants was a man named Nathan Garrett, who becomes a supervillain under the same name. Garrett, as it turns out, is Whitman's uncle; after he's mortally wounded during a fight with Iron Man, he gives his same gear—particularly, a mystical sword, to Whitman, and tells him to restore honor to the Black Knight name.

Photo credit: Men's Health
Photo credit: Men's Health

While he's gotten and lost some minor abilities over the decades of comics, Whitman traditionally doesn't have any powers—he's just a smart guy who's really good at swordfighting.

The character had been parts of various teams (including different forms of The Avengers, The Defenders, Ultraforce, and Heroes for Hire), but he didn't have his own solo series until 2015.

What's next for Whitman and Harington in the MCU?

While Eternals hasn't even come out yet, it's easy to speculate on the future of this character based on the long history, and the ascending status of the person playing him. Harington is a big actor, and after Thrones he's only getting more famous. And as he showed in the 2005 HBO film Seven Days in Hell, he's actually funny, too; if Harington's role in Eternals is well-received, it would be a very on-brand move for the MCU to develop a solo Black Knight film or Disney+ series. At the very least, we would expect to see him pop up as a supporting character in future movies—that is, if he survives Eternals first.

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