The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had a few brushes with the fantasy genre in its latest productions. From the Thor and Doctor Strange movies to the upcoming Agatha: Darkhold Diaries series, fantasy is becoming a popular accompanying genre in the MCU. However, there is one other character that can take the lore of fantasy and magic to the next level: Dane Whitman. Better known as the Black Knight, Dane Whitman was introduced in Eternals in 2021. Even though his future in the MCU is still uncertain, he has the potential to expand the lore of fantasy and magic in the MCU. He could do so by introducing new fantasy storylines, realms, and characters, such as Otherworld, Avalon and Excalibur.
Fantasy and magic have been regularly seen throughout the MCU’s storyline ever since Thor hit theaters in 2011. With Marvel Studios experimenting with different genres in the Multiverse Saga, Phases 5 and 6 can potentially expand on the importance of incorporating the fantasy genre in the MCU, especially by taking into consideration its role in the comics. The MCU is a traditional science fiction cinematic franchise, but it has shown that it can easily incorporate many different genres and narratives. Fantasy could become the next big thing in Marvel, and the Black Knight gives a glimpse of what it can become.
Fantasy and Magic Are a Big Deal in Marvel Comics and the MCU
Fantasy has been one of the most prominent genres in Marvel Comics, ever since the introduction of Atlantis, Asgard and magic. It has been especially popular in more recent years in the comics, especially with Jonathan Hickman’s and Valerio Schiti’s G.O.D.S. comic series. Some of the most intriguing and powerful characters in Marvel Comics are closely connected with a fantastical storyline. Fantasy has even been present in the MCU ever since Phase 1 with the introduction of Thor’s character. One of the most notable characteristics of the fantasy genre in Marvel is its connection with magic. In the beginning of the MCU magic was portrayed as a form of advanced science or energy manipulation, but it has come a long way since then.
Fantasy and magic have been expanded on during Phase 4 with productions such as WandaVision, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. WandaVision and Doctor Strange 2 delved into the existence of witches and focused on two different kinds of magic — witchcraft and chaos magic respectively. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings took things one step further by introducing the mystical realm of Ta Lo and a plethora of fantastical creatures. Even Ms. Marvel established the existence of the Clandestines, or else known as Djinn, that are supernatural beings that originate from the Noor Dimension. However, the most cryptic fantastical aspect that the MCU has yet to explore is the Black Knight and his Ebony Blade, since it is tied with the most fantastical realm in Marvel Comics: Otherworld.
Who Is Dane Whitman and How He Can Expand the MCU’s Lore?
Despite not knowing much of his background, viewers understood from Eternals that Dane Whitman comes from an ancient British family and that he and his uncle are not in the best of terms. However, most importantly in the Eternals post-credits scene, it is shown that he is in possession of a magic sword. In the comics, Dane Whitman holds the title of Black Knight and wields the Ebony Blade, a magical sword imbued with dark magic. The blade was created by Merlyn who — like the British mythical figure Merlin — in the comics was the advisor of King Arthur, ruler of Camelot. The kingdom of Camelot itself is located in the mythical realm of Otherworld, which is a pocket dimension and a nexus to all the realities of the multiverse.
Initially, Whitman’s bloodline was tasked by Merlin to defeat King Arthur’s illegitimate son, Mordred. However, Dane Whitman became much more than what his ancestry demanded of him. Like his MCU counterpart, he fell in love with the Eternal Sersi. He also became an Avenger and helped countless people, all the while battling the dark influence of the Ebony Blade that sought to corrupt him. The MCU can take inspiration from the comics and set up a similar storyline, while also introducing Otherworld. By doing so, characters like Merlyn can be introduced, as well as other kingdoms such as Avalon, which is associated with another important superhero team: Excalibur.
How the Black Knight Can Make Fantasy a Major Genre in the MCU
The MCU has incorporated many different genres in its storytelling. For example, Captain America: The Winter Soldier had elements of a pollical thriller, and the Ant-Man and the Wasp films are known for their family-oriented comedy. Marvel Studios is slowly giving the MCU a more mature and darker tone through fantasy. Similar to how the Scarlet Witch was corrupted by the Darkhold in Doctor Strange 2, the Black Knight has been similarly corrupted by the Ebony Blade. However, the Black Knight’s significance is not only limited to his character arc. He can also provide new narratives in the cinematic franchise.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is well-known for its interconnective narrative, meaning that each production influences others. If the Black Knight was to introduce Otherworld, it would cause a chain reaction, prompting new threats to spawn and new superhero teams to form. For instance, Excalibur is a team that has usually faced fantastical enemies, almost always under the guidance of Captain Britain. Whoever holds this title is bestowed with mystical powers by Merlyn and his daughter Roma. In addition to being an interesting new narrative to incorporate in the MCU, Otherworld and Excalibur have ties with the multiverse, supervising it and aiding into any fight that threatens it. This way, fantasy and magic can become an important aspect of the Multiverse Saga.
The MCU has countless characters to pick from the comics to establish new narratives and stories. Dane Whitman is but one of them, and he has the ability to make fantasy the most important accompanying genre in the Marvel Universe. However, most fans are bound to not be interested in his story, especially since he is connected to Eternals, which had a lot of backlash. Even so, Black Knight can provide Marvel with a fresh approach to storytelling. Despite being a science fiction cinematic franchise, the MCU has the capacity to grow out of its comfort zone and create a world that can resemble that of the comics.
The Black Knight is a compelling character to use, as he can easily fit in with the darker fantastical tone that the MCU is heading towards. Nevertheless, the Black Knight’s role is still uncertain, since there is no update on whether Kit Harington will reprise his role in the future. Nonetheless, should Marvel Studios finally decide what to do with Dane Whitman, his character is bound to be a rich case study for the MCU’s mystical lore.
Marvel Studios could use Black Knight to strengthen the fantasy genre in the MCU by introducing Otherworld and the superhero team Excalibur. Read More