Black Knight is a title held by several Marvel Comics characters, but is primarily used in reference to Dane Whitman, created by Roy Thomas, John Verpoorten, and George Tuska, first appearing in The Avengers #47 (dated December 1967).
A descendant of the first Arthurian Black Knight, Sir Percival, Whitman assumed the title from his villainous uncle, who entrusted him with restoring honor to their family legacy after being mortally wounded by Iron Man. After helping them to defeat Kang the Conquerer, Whitman was made a full member of The Avengers, placing him among the first new additions to the team, and the last one to join them in The '60s.
During his time as an Avenger, Whitman sometimes served as their field leader in Captain America's absence. He also began a romantic relationship with teammate Sersi of The Eternals, and the two are often associated with one another for their longstanding on-and-off dynamic. Outside of the Avengers, Whitman as also been a member of The Defenders, Excalibur, MI13, Heroes for Hire, and even the Masters of Evil, though in the latter's case it was for infiltration purposes.
Black Knight (Dane Whitman) appears in:
- The Eternals (Dane Whitman) (2020), portrayed by Kit Harington
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! (2011) note
Black Knight (Dane Whitman) provides examples of:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Ebony Blade is an evil counterpart to Excalibur, so this comes with the territory.
- Battle Couple: With his Avengers teammate Sersi.
- Black Knight: Not the trope namer, just one of many examples of fiction.
- Color Character: Black Knight.
- Cool Horse: Aragorn, Valinor, and Strider have all served as his mounts.
- Cursed with Awesome: The Ebony Blade is pretty evil, and does mental damage to its wielder, but it is pretty awesome.
- Dark Is Not Evil: He looks imposing with his dark attire, but he's one of the more heroic Black Knights in their lineage.
- Disney Villain Death: This was how his predecessor, Nathan Garrett, who was a villain, died. During a fight in the air with Iron Man, Garrett was knocked off his horse and took a long fall to the ground. While Garrett did survive to tell Dane what he had done, he ultimately expired not long after.
- Evil Weapon: The Ebony Blade, also known as the Anti-Excalibur. An ancient sword fueled by a horrific blood curse that corrupts the owner, the more blood they take with it, the stronger the curse gets. The Black Knights have been guarding the world from it for over a millennium. Later retcons make it so that it's not a curse - the blade is just like that anyway.Captain Britain: This is the Ebony Blade, the Anti-Excalibur. Sword of the other Britain. The one that sneers at "chavs" and "scroungers", and pours hate and fear on those who need kindness.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: Dane once spent some time in the Crusades, which is where he learned to speak a number of foreign languages. This comes up when he meets Faiza Hussain's family, with her father revealing that while he's not as much of a superhero fan as his daughter, he does know his superheroes, and thus where (and when) Dane learned Urdu, before irritably wondering if it was an intentional offence or institutional incompetence.
- Interspecies Romance: With Sersei, an Eternal.
- Master Swordsman: Not to be confused with the Marvel character named Swordsman, but his proficiency with a sword is above average.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Before becoming Black Knight, Whitman was specifically a physicist, but he also displays knowledge of genetics and mechanical engineering.
- Other Me Annoys Me: Goes a little beyond "annoys", but during the 90s Dane met Proctor, an evil and insane version of himself from another reality, who'd killed Sersei and gone on a multiversal rampage after every other version of her.
- Redeeming Replacement: His uncle and predecessor, Nathan Garrett, was a founder member of the Masters of Evil, and he would eventually infiltrate them for the Avengers.
- Retcon: There've been a few with the Ebony Blade. Originally, the sword was cursed. This changed in the mid-00s to the sword just being naturally evil. Also, Nate's status as a legacy character. Originally, the lineage just went back to Sir Percy of Scandia, an Arthurian knight. New Excalibur changes it up so that Percy wasn't anywhere near the first to wield the sword.
- Science Hero: Downplayed, but lots of Whitman's equipment as Black Knight is derived from science and technology, such as his Neural Sword, and Aragorn, a genetically-modified winged white horse.
- Token Minority: If being the only American in the midst of a British main cast of MI13 counts, then yes.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A horrifying aversion plays a part in Dane's exclusion from Age of Ultron - the blade doesn't care about the nature of the life being taken. Even Ultron's drone army is just alive enough to push the curse into overdrive.