The Avengers have had their share of epic romances in the pages of Marvel Comics. First, there was Ant-Man and Wasp. Then, the star-crossed lovers Scarlet Witch and Vision. But another great Avengers romance is finally making it to the MCU. And it’s one that doesn’t get celebrated enough. It is the epic love story of the Eternal Sersi and Dane Whitman, the Black Knight. And we’re finally going to see this story play out in Eternals. Gemma Chan plays Sersi, and Kit Harington plays Dane Whitman.
The Sersi and Black Knight romance isn’t from one of their more iconic runs of Avengers. It took place over the course of the early ‘90s run on the title by writer Bob Harras, artist Steve Epting, and inker/colorist Tom Palmer—an era less than fondly remembered these days. In fact, when people refer to this Avengers run now, it’s mostly to mock the team all wearing bomber jackets with an “A” emblazoned on them. It’s a definite attempt on capitalizing on the unprecedented success of the Jim Lee era X-Men costumes. Particularly Rogue and Cyclops.
But Sersi and Black Knight’s romance is a highlight of this run. Black Knight joined the Avengers in issue #71 in 1969, long before many other now-iconic members. As the wielder of the mystical and ancient Ebony Blade, he was a perfect candidate for the team. But that first run was relatively brief. He came back to the team with a vengeance though in the mid-80s, and by the early ’90s was a premier member.
It was during this time that Sersi joined the team at Steve Rogers’ request. Her Eternal sibling Gilgamesh was briefly an Avenger himself. After Gilgamesh was seriously injured, she took his place on the team. Sersi quickly became a powerhouse for the group, effectively replacing the Scarlet Witch. At this time, members like Iron Man and Thor were absent from the main Avengers title, so characters like Sersi and Black Knight could both truly shine.
Their true bond formed when Sersi became afflicted with a type of madness which only ever happens to the Eternals. Her fellow Eternals decided that Sersi needed to be killed to stop the disease from spreading any further. In an effort to save her life, she formed a soul bond with teammate Dane Whitman. The Eternals call this kind of bond the “Gann Josin.”
What she forgot to mention to Dane is that the Celestials expressly forbid Eternals from going through this mind meld (to borrow a Star Trek term) with mortal humans. Because of this, Sersi’s Eternal companion Ikaris altered Dane’s DNA, thus making him a suitable companion. Sersi and Dane became soulmates, in a manner of speaking—whether or not the Black Knight wanted to be. That seemed beside the point. And as he was in love with his teammate, the Inhuman princess Crystal, he definitely did not want to have feelings for Sersi. Remember, comics are soap operas, kids.
Eventually, though, Dane developed true feelings for Sersi. But in stories like this, things become complicated when an “evil twin” shows up. The villainous Proctor, an evil variant of Black Knight from another universe, killed multiple iterations of Sersi across the multiverse. And he did so by using their Gann Josin bond to drive her mad before taking her life. He eventually arrived on Earth 616, where he and the Avengers’ Black Knight fought. But it was Sersi who killed Proctor, with his own Ebony Blade. In the aftermath, she and Dane walked off together into another dimension, leaving the Avengers.
This is where things get even weirder for the couple. See, at this point in the ‘90s, Marvel Comics had acquired rival comic company Malibu Comics. They had their own line of heroes, and their own version of the Avengers called Ultraforce. For a brief time, Marvel published the “Ultraverse” titles, and they thought they could give the Ultraforce series a boost by adding in two former Avengers. So Sersi and Black Knight joined the team. But it wasn’t enough to save Ultraforce, and Marvel canceled the title. They did so despite Ultraforce even having a cartoon.
Eventually, they returned to Earth 616, although in the wrong time period. (Oops). Eventually, after their way out of the 12th century AD, after a battle with Apocalypse, they came back to their proper time. But the love seemingly faded between them, and the two split up. But soulmates with an eternal bond (pun fully intended), do not shed feelings like that so easily. Comics always find a way for couples to find a way back to each other.
In more recent comics, Dane Whitman has seemingly moved on from his love of Sersi. But towards the end of one of his most recent series, he reckoned with the fact that a soulmate bond is hard to break. And this he will always have feelings for the immortal Sersi. (Although she is currently “dead,” but we doubt that will last). It remains to be seen if they will rekindle this romance in the pages of the comics but we have a sneaking suspicion that they will.