Spoiler alert: This article is all about the second credits scene in “Eternals,” so by its nature is a spoiler. While it does not divulge plot details of “Eternals,” if you haven’t seen the movie yet, let us recommend checking out this review or this story on director Chloé Zhao instead.
The Black Knight always triumphs!
The surprise in the second credits scene isn’t that it teases the arrival of the Black Knight. It has been known for some time that the character “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harington plays in “Eternals” is Dane Whitman, alter ego of that hero. It’s the enigmatic ending of the scene that will have Marvel fans abuzz … and confused.
It should be noted that Whitman is the good Black Knight, who first appeared in “The Avengers” No. 47 (1967), not the bad Black Knight (his uncle), who first popped up in “Tales to Astonish” No. 52 (1964), fighting Giant-Man and the Wasp. (It should also be noted this is not the Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975), so don’t expect sudden dismemberings of our hero.)
By the way, “Avengers” 47 has skyrocketed in value with the news the character was coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe; a near-mint copy reportedly sold this year for more than $5,000.
The second bonus scene, which comes after the credits, finds Dane driven by the disappearance of his girlfriend, Sersi (the Eternal played by Gemma Chan) into confronting his birthright, the Ebony Blade. As far as excuses to not move in together go, being kidnapped by, essentially, God before her boyfriend’s eyes is a pretty good one. Thus the opening of the box he seems so reluctant to peek inside. To be fair, who wouldn’t be hesitant when there’s an inscription under the lid that translates to “Death is my reward”?
And what’s in the box? The blade hewn by Merlin — yes, that Merlin — from a meteor (as are all good things in the MCU). In the comics, it went on to have quite a checkered history involving the Avengers, the Inhumans and Dracula, among others.
By legend, the weapon was around in the time of King Arthur; by publication, it predates the Silver Age of Marvel (the 1960s generation of heroes such as Iron Man and Spider-Man who form the backbone of the MCU). It first appeared in “Black Knight Comics” No. 1 in 1955, in the hands of the O.G. Black Knight, Arthur’s bud. One of the Celestials of Marvel the company, Stan Lee, even wrote the story.
The magic sword has a number of abilities in the comics, chief among them indestructibility and the ability to cut through just about anything (including mystical barriers). It also grants its wielder protection from energy blasts and magic attacks. It’s a big deal. However, it is also cursed and has a habit of amping up its user’s bloodlust. What did you expect, with that motto.
While Dane is just one in a long line of Black Knights dating to King Arthur’s Round Table, he’s the first to join the Avengers (and Defenders, and others). Marvel fans knew all this coming into “Eternals,” of course, though the uninitiated may have enjoyed seeing Harington in the apparently flipped “helpless girlfriend” trope, here immortal heroine Sersi’s helpless mortal boyfriend.
As far as Avengers go, Black Knight is one of the least physically powerful. But he’s a great fighter, especially with a sword, who’s in excellent shape for a human. Oh, and he can ride a horse really well.
The real mystery of the post-credits scene comes at the very end when an unidentified voice asks, “Sure you’re ready for that, Mr. Whitman?”
What voice? Who? Where? Or maybe … when?
The scene ends immediately after Dane hears those words; the voice goes by too quickly for positive identification. A Disney representative declined to confirm the speaker’s identity. So …
Could it be Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), back from his holiday in space (space-cation?) to do some early recruiting for the new Avengers team? The Earthbound Avengers are missing some heavy hitters now; to borrow Steve Rogers’ metaphor, they’re not the ‘92 Dodgers, but they sure ain’t the ’27 Yankees.
Could it be Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), back from breaking the multiverse with Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” or getting jiggy with Scarlet Witch in 2022’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”? He seems like the kind of dude who would know when the Ebony Blade was plucked from its creepy box.
Or is it … Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors, from the “Loki” TV series)? That time-traveling weirdo probably was around when the meteor first yielded up its guts and has likely directly witnessed future bad stuff resulting from ol’ Dane picking up the big knife.
Or someone else entirely? Possibly a character not even confirmed to yet appear in the MCU?
We don’t know. We can’t know yet. But if that cuts deep, knowing you’ll have to wait for the reveal in a future Marvel movie, take heart: It’s only a flesh wound.