Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Marvel Studios' Eternals.
After four Disney+ shows and two theatrical debuts in 2021, Marvel Studios is now fully invested in the theatrical run for its 26th full-length movie Eternals. Under the leadership of Academy Award-winning director Chloé Zhao and featuring the talents of about a dozen Hollywood A-listers, this new adventure is already making its impact on the MCU's past while also pushing ahead to the future.
By the end of the movie's 157-minute runtime, the MCU world as a whole is feeling the effects of a halted Celestial birth while the remaining Eternals adjust to their new life outside the control of their creator. However, as is the case with every MCU movie, this is far from the end of their story with hints of big things coming in the future.
This started in the movie's mid-credits scene with Patton Oswalt's Pip the Troll heralding Thena, Makkari, and Druig to the arrival of Harry Styles' Starfox, the newly-introduced brother of the Mad Titan Thanos. Then, after the credits finished rolling, fans got the first tease of Dane Whitman's transformation into the Black Knight as Kit Harington heard a voice in his head pushing him along.
Even with the shock that came from Harry Styles' debut as Starfox, nobody expected the voice in Dane Whitman's head to be that of Mahershala Ali's Blade. After Eternals' long-awaited debut, director Chloé Zhao gave some insight into Kit Harington's new hero and his game-changing post-credits scene.
Dane Whitman Meets the MCU's Blade
Variety spoke with Eternals director Chloé Zhao following the film's release about the post-credits scene featuring Kit Harington's Dane Whitman, which teased his evolution into the Black Knight.
During pre-production for Eternals, Zhao recalled how she knew Harington would be "great to play" Dane Whitman thanks to his time as Jon Snow on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones:
“I go, ‘Who’s that? Black Knight? Oh, there’s an actor who’d be great to play that!'”
Although Whitman will eventually become a key player in the MCU, Zhao wanted to focus on his human side in this movie. That also came on top of Marvel telling Harington initially that he wouldn't play a huge role in this movie outside of helping Sersi with her ties to "a human character:"
“I was a big fan of that character. I thought he would be very interesting to have a human character also with his own complicated [history]. You can sense he doesn’t know what’s going on [with the Eternals], but there’s something special about him. It’s fun.”
The post-credits scene featured Whitman opening the box with his classic Ebony Blade for the first time while he read a carving translating to "Death is my reward." It wasn't until during this scene that fans realized the Ebony Blade wasn't the only "Blade" involved, as the voice that replied to Kit Harington's character was revealed to be that of Mahershala Ali in his MCU debut as Blade.
Harington revealed to Variety the day after the Eternals premiere that he only learned of Ali's inclusion three weeks previously. Praising the Academy Award-winner, the Games of Thrones actor admitted the vampire hunter's subtle cameo in this movie "really excited" him:
“I knew the line that was being said, because it was said out loud and it was in the bit of script that I got. I only knew that was Mahershala’s voice just about three weeks ago. Chloé texted me saying that’s what they were doing. It really excited me, hearing that. He’s one of my favorite actors out there at the moment.”
Harington then revealed his hopes to tease Dane's future as the Black Knight with the way the character spoke about the Ebony Blade. While his limited screentime in Eternals painted him mostly in a positive light before this moment, Harington was enthralled by the idea of Whitman quickly falling into a struggle with "addiction" to the power of the weapon in front of him:
“Up until that point, all we’ve seen is a really good guy that we hopefully like. I like the idea that this thing is not good for him. With that sword, and what I’ve read about it, what I wanted to capture in that moment was this idea of addiction.”
Blade and Dane Whitman do have some history with one another in Marvel Comics. Harington confirmed that, early on, he was aware of Marvel Studios' ambitions to connect the two characters in the MCU as well:
“I had some inkling that there was going to be a kind of crossover there, from early conversations."
But, as is usually the case with the MCU's future, Harington is in the dark about a possible team-up between himself and Ali, even though he joked about how many people assume that he would know something about it:
“I don’t know what the future is, and I have no idea. There’s nothing written. Nothing I’ve been told. I haven’t got a clue. Honestly, genuinely. It’s funny, isn’t it? You say these things, and people are like, ‘You do! You know!’ And I have no idea. I’m assuming that that would be the case. But who knows?”
Mysterious Future for Black Knight and Blade
Mahershala Ali's first true inclusion in the MCU was announced at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 as Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige brought him on stage with a Blade cap. Following that monumental moment, the word has been quite mum on production details outside of Marvel hiring head writer Stacy Osei-Kuffour and director Bassam Tariq for Eric Brooks' MCU debut
With Eternals having unexpectedly introduced Ali during the post-credits scene with Dane Whitman, the clock now starts ticking on when fans will see the widely-popular daywalker suit up for his first full MCU action. Filming for his solo movie will reportedly begin in July 2022, but with at least two years until that movie comes and this tease already being out in the world, fans are hoping for more vampire glimpses before then.
As for Harington, it seems abundantly clear that his Dane Whitman will take on the mantle of the Black Knight sooner rather than later, although his next scheduled MCU appearance is a mystery for now. With no signs pointing to when the Eternals will come back and no indications toward when a sequel film will come, Whitman's return will likely be part of another project.
No matter what the immediate future holds for Dane Whitman and Blade, Eternals is doing its part to set up huge events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Marvel Studios' Eternals is currently playing in theaters.