Avengers: Infinity War featured the largest superhero cast we've ever seen, with Earth's mightiest heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy running all over the screen.
And Avengers: Endgame promises to bring back even more familiar Marvel Cinematic Universe faces like Valkyrie and The Ancient One, as well as Brie Larson's newcomer Captain Marvel. Assuming all the dusted characters return, that's an awful lot of spandex-clad warriors.
But if a new theory is to be believed, another classic (if little-known) Avengers could make his debut too: The Black Knight.
(Not to be confused with Moon Knight.)
What's the evidence?
Marvel Comics recently announced a series of 'True Believers' reprints of old comics arriving in April and clearly related to Endgame. The links to the Infinity War/Endgame story are obvious in some-Avengers #260 features the first appearance of Nebula, and New Avengers #30 reveals that Hawkeye has returned under his new identity as Ronin.
Two are 'classified', presumably because they might give away too much about Endgame, but one comic in particular had people scratching their heads. Avengers #343 was the beginning of a story called 'The Gatherers Saga', a story about alternate-reality heroes united by a mysterious figure called the Proctor.
It centred on a love triangle between Black Knight and his teammates Crystal (an Inhuman princess) and Sersi (who is expected to star in Marvel's upcoming Eternals film).
'The Gatherers' has no obvious links to anything we know about Endgame, but Black Knight crops up again in the reprint of Avengers #71 aka 'Endgame!' The story involves the team splitting into smaller groups and sent through time on a mission by the villain Kang.
They are eventually saved by-you guessed it-The Black Knight, who then joins the team for the first time. Apart from the story's name, and a nod to the suspected time-travel plot, there's no immediate connection to anything we know about Endgame. But there's Black Knight again.
There have been other rumors about the character coming to the MCU which, though not particularly plausible on their own, could be taken as supporting this theory. One report claims that Black Knight will appear out of the miniature Quantum Realm (though it's not clear how that is supposed to work).
There's been some hinting and talk about Black Knight recently. Apparently Marvel does have a plan for him in the MCU, and they already know how he'll be introduced. pic.twitter.com/rOHHO9hWgU- Jeremy Conrad (@ManaByte) December 29, 2018
We do know that his sword, the Ebony Blade, was supposed to appear as an Easter egg in Doctor Strange. A prop was created for that purpose but was, according to the film's prop master Barry Gibbs, "taken out of the script." Could that indicate that Marvel decided that the Ebony Blade couldn't be in Strange's keeping because it needed to show up elsewhere later? Were they trying to avoid another Infinity Gauntlet situation?
Or are these Black Knight hints just a coincidence or a red herring?
Who is the Black Knight?
The physicist and inventor Dane Whitman is a longstanding Marvel character, having first appeared in 1967's Avengers #47. He is actually the second Black Knight, following in the footsteps of his uncle, Nathan Garrett, an Iron Man villain who on his death bed asked Dane to redeem their family name.
The line of Black Knights were the descendants of Sir Percy of Scandia, who lived during the time of King Arthur, and inheritors of his Ebony Blade.
The Ebony Blade is a magical, indestructible weapon that can cut through anything and protect its owner from mystical attacks. Oh, and did we mention that it's also cursed, thanks to the amount of blood Sir Percy shed with it? The curse has various effects, principally driving its user slowly mad. Still, it can cut through anything, so what's a bit of madness between friends?
Dane rides a genetically engineered flying horse called Aragorn with 'enhanced intelligence'. No downsides/curses here, as far as we can tell.
Black Knight has been a member of the Avengers, Defenders, mercenary Heroes for Hire and magical British intelligence agency MI-13 among various other teams. He has also lifted and re-inherited the Ebony Blade curse once or twice and has occasionally swapped the blade for different magical weapons (including Excalibur at one point) and even a 'photon sword' (basically a lightsaber) that he invented himself.
If he does show up in the MCU, we would expect the story to focus more on his tortured history and the curse rather than his connections to all thing King Arthur – although, given the mystery surrounding Phase 4 and beyond, that could change.
Avengers: Endgame will be released on April 26 in the US.
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