But will this actually be a glorious Stark reunion, or just a casting coincidence? How closely are Harington and Madden’s characters likely to actually interact, and what are they like in the comics?
Well, before we answer all that, it’s time for some background…
Who is Ikaris, Richard Madden’s Eternals character?
The comic-book version of Ikaris (Marvel)
While it’s unclear exactly how closely the Eternals movie will follow the comics (it’s not a super-popular property, so there wouldn’t be too many fans up in arms at changes), Ikaris – the character played by Madden in the film – is one of the more notable members of the super-powered human offshoot race.
In the comics, Ikaris is near-invulnerable and possesses an accelerated healing factor, making him functionally immortal and able to live much longer than the majority of life-forms in the galaxy. He also possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility and reflexes, can fly, can transmute matter and teleport and read minds.
Oh, and he can also manipulate cosmic energy, the source of many of his other abilities, but also a power he can use to project energy at enemies.
In other words, he’s a pretty tough guy who can do almost anything, and has spent around 20,000 years helping people and having adventures (including intruding on some mythical events).
Who is The Black Knight, Kit Harington’s Eternals character?
Notably, Harington is the only announced member of the cast to NOT be an Eternal, with his character Dane Whitman instead existing in Marvel as an ordinary human with great combat skills and a magic sword called The Ebony Blade, which is indestructible, can cut through anything and absorb or deflect energy.
Created in 1967 by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, the Whitman of the comics is the latest in a long line of Black Knights within his family, stretching back to the court of King Arthur, and wielded a cursed sword called the Ebony Blade in battle. Over the years, it emerged that the sword fed on blood and turned the user mad, and several times over the decades Whitman has tried and failed to cure the sword or cast it aside, only for it to return to him again.
Other Black Knights have included Whitman’s evil uncle, Nathan Garrett, and his ancestor Sir Percy of Scandia, whose spirit often guides Whitman through his adventures.
Over the years, Whitman flitted around various Marvel comics, joining the Avengers for a time then the comic book version of the Defenders, then becoming trapped in time in the 12th Century, then coming back to the present and joining the Avengers again – which is where he met the Eternal Sersi, a friend of Ikaris and a key character in the new film.
Bringing us straight on to…
Will Richard Madden and Kit Harington meet in The Eternals?
Look, we get it – Marvel movies are big productions with huge casts, and just because two actors are in the same franchise doesn’t mean they’ll have the sort of significant actions fans may want. Just look at Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, both of whom have significant roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but have yet to share screen-time in a sop to Sherlock fans.
Accordingly, fans may be wondering whether Ikaris or Dane Whitman will even share screen-time at all in The Eternals for a Game of Thrones reunion – but happily, based on the comics ,it seems like they very well might.
You see, when both were a part of the Avengers, Whitman (Harington) and the molecule-manipulating Sersi (played by Gemma Chan in the new movie) began a relationship, which turned sour when a dimension-hopping alternate version of Whitman called Proctor (yes, really) began tormenting Sersi.
To help stabilise her, Madden’s Ikaris bonded Whitman and Sersi’s minds in a process called gann josin, which Whitman resented given that they didn’t ask permission (and he also started fancying someone else).
The Eternals cast (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)Jesse Grant / Getty Images
Anyway, as the comics continued, Whitman and Sersi fell out, got back together again, travelled to other universes, turned mad and evil and back again and much more – but it was Madden’s character Ikaris who played such an important early part in their relationship, so it’s feasible that in director Chloe Zhao’s new version of the story, his role could be similar.
Yes, we’re sure a LOT of this storyline will be changed – frankly, it’s not entirely clear if Whitman is even a superhero in the Eternals movie, or whether he’s an ordinary joe who struggles with his love for an immortal superwoman – but given that they are including him and Sersi in a fairly central way, it seems likely that this aspect of their relationship will remain an important story point.
Accordingly, it seems like two Kings in the North will share the screen in at least one scene, maybe more, when Eternals comes to cinemas. Just like Sean Bean would have wanted.
The Eternals comes to cinemas on the 6th November 2020