Marvel Comics just reconfigured the famous ebony sword of the Black Knight, and it could herald his role in the next Eternals movie. Spoilers notice
Marvel Comics just turned the Black Knight into the only man who could potentially destroy the Eternals. The first Black Knight was created by Stan Lee and Joe Maneely in 1955, published by Atlas Comics, the company that eventually became Marvel. Sir Percy of Scandia was a Camelot knight who dedicated himself to protecting King Arthur, wielding a mystical ebony sword.
Decades later, Marvel brought the Black Knight back to their current timeline when they revealed that Sir Percy's descendants had inherited the Ebony Blade. The best known Black Knight, and the one who today serves alongside the Avengers, is Dane Whitman; a scientist who was drawn to the world of magic and sorcery. The character will make his debut in the 2021 Marvel Cinematic Universe in the movie The Eternals, played by Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), and it looks like he will have a leading role; All the evidence suggests that the romance between Black Knight and Sersi will greatly drive the narrative.
Empyre: Avengers # 3 released this week in the US has just reconfigured Dane Whitman's iconic weapon. The Ebony Sword was forged by Merlin using the metal of a meteorite and was enchanted to grant superhuman powers to its wielder. Unfortunately, he also acquired a curse due to all the blood spilled by Sir Percy with the blade, which means that the sword is now hungry to shed blood and exerts a powerful influence on the man who is destined to wield it. But according to Empyre: Avengers # 3, the ebony sword isn't just hungry for blood; consumes souls. In this issue, the ebony sword has been used to pierce Ka-Zar's chest and Scarlet Witch and Shanna are able to resurrect it by removing the soul from the ebony sword before it can be digested. It's actually quite an important retcon, giving the sword more power than ever. Interestingly, it makes Dane Whitman the only man who could kill an Eternal.
Why could the Ebon Blade kill an Eternal?
The Eternals are, evidently, immortal beings; they can live forever and, as a result, have had a profound influence on human history. His immortality was put to one last test in Neil Gaiman's classic story of The Eternals, when one of them – Ikaris, played by Richard Maddenen in the MCU – was subjected to brutal torture by the Deviants who tried everything to kill him. But his body proved capable of surviving and quickly healing from the most terrible wounds. Drowning doesn't work either, because the Eternals can extract oxygen from the water if necessary. They bathed Ikaris in acid, dipped him in a foundry, and he was still unharmed. Finally, the Deviants tied Ikaris to the end of a cyclotron, and that seemed to work; converting it to atoms. Incredibly, even they got back together. It seems there is no way to kill an Eternal forever.
But this retcon means that the ebony sword is the only thing that can get the job done. If the sword hits a living being, it not only spills blood; consumes the soul. The idea is almost biblical, reminiscent of Hebrews 4:12, which declares that the Word of God is a sword that can separate the soul from the spirit and the flesh. Consequently, if the ebony sword is used to defeat an Eternal, it is reasonable to assume that it would consume his soul. Even if your body is resurrected as a simple biological function, your mind and soul will be gone. Suddenly, the Black Knight has become the greatest threat to the Eternals, and right at that moment, Marvel Comics is resurrecting the Eternals again. Surely that is not a coincidence.
This may also explain the role of the Black Knight in the Eternals
Marvel Comics has always tried to establish a synergy between the comics and the movies, often adjusting the characters in the comics to make sure they broadly match their big-screen counterparts. That task is easier than ever given that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is also the creative director of Marvel Entertainment. So it wouldn't be a huge surprise if this subtle rewrite was a harbinger of the Black Knight's role in the film.
If the ebony sword also has this power in the MCU, it would clearly explain why Kit Harington's Black Knight is involved in the conflict between the Eternals and the Deviants. Presumably, these two races have been at war for millennia in the MCU, just as they have in the comics. The Deviants would undoubtedly seek the ebony sword, coveting its power to slay their former foes. Also, it's possible that The Eternals will be based on the Gaiman period rather than the original Jack Kirby comics, which would mean that a rogue Eternal could be the main villain; that would certainly explain why Marvel doesn't seem to have cared much about the Deviants, because they could be secondary villains. If that's the case, the Black Knight will actually be the only person who could potentially stop an evil Eternal forever.
One thing can be said with certainty; Marvel will not have rewritten the Black Knight like that by accident. The Black Knight has been in the comics for a long time and has been neglected as a character. But it's about to get a lot more important, with the UCM giving it much-needed brand recognition. Marvel Comics will be hoping that the incarnation of Kit Harington will lead to a resurgence of interest in the Black Knight, just as the MCU transformed the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy into top brands. It's surely only a matter of time before Marvel announces the next Black Knight series. Given that is the case, the new ebony sword retcon might well be just what is needed to breathe new life into a series.
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