Ikaris and the Black Knight: Who do Richard Madden and Kit Harington play in Eternals?

Last week, Marvel released the first official trailer for Eternals, one of Marvel’s big tentpole movies for 2021. About a group of super-beings who have been on Earth for millennia subtly guiding humanity towards progress, the movie has been delayed for a long time thanks to the coronavirus, but it’s finally ready to make its debut:

Under the direction of Chloé Zhao Academy Award winner Chloé Zhao, the movie looks good, and kinda different from what we’ve come to expect from Marvel. For Game of Thrones fans, it’s notable that it reunites Richard Madden (Robb Stark) and Kit Harington (Jon Snow). What’s more, it looks like their characters — Ikaris and Dane Whitman, aka the Black Knight — are involved in a love triangle with a woman named Sersi; it’s so perfect it almost sounds made up.

But it isn’t. Although neither are household names, both Ikaris and the Black Knight have long histories in Marvel Comics. While we wait for the movie to arrive, we thought we’d write a little primer on who these heroes are and where they might fit in the MCU.

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 04: Richard Madden attends the “1917” World Premiere and Royal Performance at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on December 04, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

Richard Madden as Ikaris

Like the other Eternals, Ikaris is thousands of years old. In the comics, he’s often the leader of the Eternals on Earth, and it looks like the movie will follow suit. Good-hearted and well-intentioned, he tries to be a just and fair leader, and distinguishes himself from some of his contemporaries by wanting to take a more active role in protecting the people of the planet, even though Eternal tradition holds that they not interfere. In the comics, he takes on an identity as a professional wrestler — “Iceberg” Ike Harris — so he can live among the people, but I’m not sure the movie will adapt that part.

He sounds like a stand-up guy all around, a hero, if you will. He also has pretty traditional superpowers. Ikaris can fly, shoot energy blasts from his hands and eyes, can read minds, regenerate wounds at a fantastic rate, and more. Again, I’m betting the the movie might leave a few of his powers on the cutting room floor, but we’ll see.

Ikaris was first introduced in 1976, so there are a lot of adventures the movie could choose from. He’s been known to come into conflict with the Eternal Thena, who’s played by Angelina Jolie in the movie, so that’s a possible avenue to explore. There’s also an incident involving the Eternal Sersi and Dane Whitman worth mentioning…

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 03: Kit Harington attends “Game Of Thrones” Season 8 Premiere on April 03, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, the Black Knight

Dane Whitman is not an Eternal. He’s an ordinary human guy born into a wealthy New England family who gets a few advanced degrees in psychics. He’s also the descendent of a medieval hero known as the Black Knight, as well as the nephew of a supervillain who took on the title of the Black Knight and stained it. Armed with his sword-fighting skills, his scientific know-how, and an enchanted sword passed down through the generations, Dane Whitman gets out there and tries to restore honor to the name of Black Knight through various acts of superheroism.

The character does some wild stuff in the comics. He rides a genetically modified winged horse, goes back in time, and works a lot with the Avengers, even becoming their leader for a while. Perhaps he’ll get to all of that in future movies, but I’m guessing the version of Dane we meet in Eternals won’t be thinking quite so big.

But based on the trailer, he will get involved with the Eternal Sersi (Gemma Chan). In the comics, these two are lovers, but complications arise when Sersi contracts an incurable disease. Sersi asks that Ikaris perform a ritual that bonds her to Dane. He doesn’t like the idea, but does as she asks in the hope of stabilizing her, without consulting the Black Knight.

There’s more to the story, but the gist is that there’s some messiness between Ikaris, Dane and Serisi. I don’t know how precisely the movie will translate the comics to the screen, but I’m expecting some tension with this trio.

Eternals comes out in theaters on November 5.

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