Marvel's Eternals Writer Explains Kit Harington's Minimal Screentime (Exclusive)

By Russ Milheim Updated:
Marvel, MCU, Eternals, Black Knight, Dane Whitman

Eternals has finally been released after several delays and a global pandemic—it’s about time.

While the film is mostly about the race of god-like immortals who have been on earth for 7,000 years, there is one major character introduced who is just simply a human: Dane Whitman.

Kit Harington’s MCU debut doesn’t amount to much in director Chloé Zhao’s recent release, but the character is a big deal when it comes to the Marvel mythos. If the post-credits scene involving Whitman means anything, it’s that he’ll have a big part to play in the wider MCU down the line.

Given Kit Harington's minimal screentime, fans have wondered: was there ever a version of the project where his character factored into the main cosmic proceedings?

Dane Whitman, Black Knight, & His Place Among Eternals

Eternals, Dane Whitman, Kit Harington
Marvel Studios

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Direct, Eternals screenplay writers Ryan and Kaz Firpo addressed Kit Harington’s Dane Whitman and his minor role in the film’s story.

According to Kaz, Whitman was someone they always wanted to use, a lot of it having to do with the “really complex and interesting relationship” that the character has with Sersi in the comics:

“…[Dane] has a long history with Sersi in the comics. They have a really complex and interesting relationship that goes back in a lot of different runs… what we really wanted with Dane… [was] somebody that had that gravitas… that power, [who] frankly had the potential to be something great… a character that learns the rules of this world, and then still has this love for Sersi, and still has this potential for where they could go… where their characters could end up.”

When it came to factoring Harington’s hero into the story, they never measured how much his character was needed for the plot. Instead, it all revolved around needing a “human [character] relationship with Sersi:”

“So it wasn’t a choice to say ‘Dane should only be this much,’ it was really like, ‘who would this human [character] relationship with Sersi be?' For it to become Dane was this no-brainer once you looked at the mythology of the universe.”

Ryan then confirmed that “there was never an iteration where Dane went on the journey with [the Eternals]:”

“I think that the movie in the present day is a lot of dealing with the demons of the past for the Eternals family. So it was always the intention to keep them alone together because that’s the best way for them to be forced to deal with all of their issues from the past. So there was never an iteration where Dane went on the journey with them.”

The Down to Earth Dane Whitman

When Kit Harington was first announced as Dane Whitman, excitement from fans went through the roof. But many asked the reasonable question, how does he play into a cosmic storyline on the scale of Eternals?

Given how the events of the film played out and the way the Firpos framed the story, it makes perfect sense that he wasn’t a part of the conflict—it was a family matter, after all.

So, while it is a little sad that the amount of Harington was minimal throughout the proceedings, the Firpos did what was best for the story.

His role was all about Sersi; a relationship that will likely continue to play out down the line. If the post-credits scene has anything to say about it though, Dane is about to take a deep dive into this family history first.

Not only that, but Mahershala Ali's Blade will be involved—having used his first words in the MCU to warn Harington’s character about what he’s signing up for. While Sersi had her team of heroes to fight with, Dane might be on his way to becoming a founding member of the Midnight Sons.

Eternals is now playing in theaters worldwide.

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.