March 30, 2022

Before You Watch Marvel's 'Moon Knight'

Before You Watch Marvel's 'Moon Knight'

It all started with WandaVision, now Marvel and Disney+'s first 2022 show Moon Knight is here! Featuring a lesser-known Marvel comics character than the prior Disney+ shows, here's (mostly) everything you need to know before watching.

Sidenote, be sure to tune in every Friday as we break down and recap every episode of the series anywhere you get your podcasts!!

What is the show basically about? No spoilers!
In Moon Knight, Oscar Isaac plays a hero that has DID (dissociative identity disorder) and a supernatural connection with the Egyptian god Khonshu. Together this creates four different personalities in addition to Moon Knight. If that doesn't sound different enough from your average Marvel hero, this six-episode limited event is, in a way, self-contained within the MCU. In the past, Disney+ shows dealt with heavy "Blip" or Infinity Saga consequences. Isaac recently told Empire magazine that Moon Knight is a character study the likes of which the MCU has rarely seen. 

Photo via Disney

Moon Knight
 seems to be set to go where no Marvel property has gone before and to shine some "moonlight" on lesser-known comic characters - Ethan Hawke as cult leader Arthur Harrow and May Calamawy as archaeologists Layla El-Faouly.

Who is Moon Knight?
Moon Knight was created by writer Doug Moench and artist Don Perlin. The character first appeared in Werewolf by Night #32 (1975).

Moon Knight first appearance Werewolf by Night #32
Photo via Marvel Comics

*Sidenote: Werewolf by Night is coming to Disney+ for a Halloween Special!
It was the first part of a two-ish-issue arc that put a silver-cloaked mercenary against the comic’s top Werewolf, Jack Russell (yeah, like the dog). The conception of Moon Knight makes sense, an antagonist for a werewolf with silver and moon-shaped gear. A big difference here compared to the current Moon Knight is that the costumed mercenary is the alter ego of Marc Spector, the DID wasn't developed into the character till later on. 

After his short Werewolf by Night introduction, Moon Knight appeared in other high profile comics: Marvel Spotlights, Spider-Man, and Daredevil. Creator Doug Moench liked the character so much he was joined by artist Bill Sienkiewicz to create Moon Knight's first solo run. The 1980 run fleshes out Spector’s backstory: Marc Spector heads to Egypt while hired by mercenary Raoul Bushman, Moon Knight’s soon-to-be nemesis, as a hired gun. This guy is terrifying, he paints a white skull/face on his face. The job goes sideways when Bushman murders civilians. Spector tries to stop him and is killed. He's then resurrected in the tomb of Khonshu, the Egyptian moon god, and he awakens with a new purpose. Before leaving the tomb, he takes the white cloak from the statue of the god to become the Fist of Khonshu—a knight for the vengeful lunar deity.

First Issue of Moon Knight
Photo via Marvel Comics

Moon Knight “creates” two new personas to infiltrate the different classes and crime levels of NYC. Moon Knight’s first personality is millionaire playboy Steven Grant. He uses this identity to infiltrate New York’s high society. He also creates the personality of Jake Lockley, a cab driver whose ear is a bit closer to the lower end of crime. 

A New Moon Knight
In the beginning, Marc initially would alternate between different identities, like Batman and Bruce Wayne. As time went on more and more writers used this character as an opportunity to explore Marc's DID (dissociative identity disorder). Of course, not all stories have handled DID respectfully or with care, even using it as more of a gimmick (Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev 2011). In recent years the subject of DID has been handled better and even centered an entire story around it. ( Read Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood’s 14-issue series 2016).

Photo via Marvel Comics

As far as Moon Knight's powers, they have gone through just as many phases as the moon (not sorry about the puns). With long, complicated, and the recons of it all, it can be a task to keep up with the character's powers and abilities. To put it simply,  he has had enhanced strength in accordance with, you guessed it, the phases of the moon, but not most of the time. Also if you count being resurrected a few times by Khonshu as a power then he definitely has that.

The Many Faces of the Moon...Knight
It is believed that Marc's connection to Khonshu is also connected to his DID. Khonshu based on the actual Egyptian moon god, has four aspects: pathfinder, embracer, defender, and watcher of overnight travelers. Moon Knight typically has three personalities Marc Spector, Steven Grant, and Jake Lockley - counting Moon Knight makes four. The show seems to be changing this a bit, instead of Marc Spector being the lead, Steven Grant seems to be taking center stage.

The show also seems to be adding another alternate to the field, Mr. Knight. Aside from ditching the cape and hood for a sick white suit and mask, Mr. Knight is more of a detective than his vigilante counterpart.

Wrapping Up
Marvel's Kevin Fiege told Empire magazine "We’re not pulling back. There’s a tonal shift. This is a different thing. This is Moon Knight.” Which seems absolutely fitting for the character, here's to hoping that the "not pulling back" applies to the handling of DID. Over the course of six-episodes Moon Knight has the chance to explore different types of stories and really push the superhero viewing experience. 

I hope that this helps prepare and has made you that much more excited for the series! Be sure to subscribe and listen to 'A Bite Of' Moon Knight episode by episode breakdown and recap when the series premiers, anywhere you get your podcasts!