At last, Marc Spector is coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At D23 in Anaheim, Marvel Studios announced Moon Knight, a new live-action series that will premiere on Disney’s streaming service, Disney+.
A release date for the series was not announced.
A cult character often considered to be “Marvel’s Batman,” Moon Knight differs from the Dark Knight in several key characteristics. (And no, it’s not just that he wears white.) Emerging in the 1970s when anti-heroes started populating comic book shelves, Moon Knight ranks among among Marvel’s darker, more aggressive heroes — like Blade, Punisher, Wolverine, and Daredevil — and developed a loyal following through some plain dope comics.
Here’s all you need to know about Moon Knight, and how he may be the first mentally ill Marvel superhero, before his arrival to the MCU.
Meet the Moon Knight: Avatar of Khonshu
If you think Moon Knight saw his parents gunned down in an alley and trained to become a crimefighter to avenge their deaths, well, think again.
Born in Chicago to a Jewish-American rabbi, Marc Spector is a former U.S. Marine who grows up to become a soldier of fortune. During a job in Egypt, Marc is betrayed by his employer, Raoul Bushman and left to die in the desert.
Wandering Egyptians who worship the lunar god Khonsu (spelled “Khonshu” in the Marvel Universe) find Marc and take him in to their temple. Before a statue of Khonshu, Marc sees a vision of the god who offers to bring Marc back to life in exchange for becoming his avatar on Earth. Awakened and reinvigorated, Marc finds and defeats Bushman and returns to America.
Now stateside, Marc invests his accumulated wealth into a fortune, making it possible to arm himself with gadgets and gizmos to become Moon Knight.
From Werewolf Hunter to Superhero
When Marvel readers first met Moon Knight, he was an unwitting weapon hired to hunt down Werewolf by Night, a horror superhero created by Marvel in 1972. Moon Knight, who debuted in Werewolf by Night #32, is initially portrayed as a villain, but his popularity with readers encouraged creators Doug Moench and Don Perlin to recast him as a hero, only having accepted the job of hunting Werewolf by Night to infiltrate his shady employers, known as “The Committee.”
As if his background as a soldier for hire and hallucinating gods in Egypt weren’t enough to differentiate Moon Knight from Batman, there’s one key psychological component of Marc Spector that makes him unlike the great detective: Dissociative Identity Disorder.
Furthermore, what makes Marvel’s portrayal of DID in Moon Knight different from generally more problematic portrayals, like in M. Night Shyamalan’s Split or the Nintendo video game Killer 7, is that Marc’s DID doesn’t give him unique superpowers. No matter which ego takes over Marc, he’s still Moon Knight. He just has a hard time figuring out who he’s supposed to be underneath the mask.
The origins for Moon Knight’s DID began with function. Originally, Marc Spector developed different identities simply to infiltrate specific circles. When he’s on the streets, he’s Jake Lockley, a New York cab driver. When he needs to rub elbows with the one percent, he’s millionaire Steven Grant. These two “egos” were just masks for Marc to wear in order to gain information useful for his superhero activity as Moon Knight.
But then, things got weird. First, in West Coast Avengers #29 in 1988, Moon Knight began hearing the voices of his personalities during a fight with Taurus.
Thus began a new, textual theme for Moon Knight that Batman writers have only suggested in subtext: Moon Knight was mentally ill. This would effect Moon Knight during events like Civil War, where applying for Superhuman Registration meant passing a psych exam (which is left ambiguous as to whether Marc actually faked his illness or not).
In 2011, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, who were renowned for their reinvention of Daredevil some ten years earlier, went harder into Moon Knight’s DID in a twelve-issue series that saw Marc hallucinate himself as Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wolverine. The specificity of Moon Knight imagining himself as three of Marvel’s biggest characters didn’t stick, but the idea that Marc doesn’t have a complete grasp of reality sure did.
In 2014, Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey swerved Moon Knight away from his Avengers hallucinations. This time, it’s the actual Moon Knight who had split personalities, shifting from traditional vigilante superhero to sharp-dressed killer, to a bonafide host for a godlike deity to beat up ghosts.
Then, in 2016, Jeff Lemire tried something really different: In a new volume of Moon Knight, Lemire challenged all of Moon Knight’s history, proposing that Marc Spector — who wakes up in a mental hospital with no memory or powers — may have imagined his entire superhero career. It was One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for the Marvel Universe, and it was consistently one of the best reads that year.
Powered by the Moon: Powers of the Moon Knight
While it remains in question whether Marc Spector really is a superhero, if you ask him, his powers come from the phases of Earth’s moon. The fuller the moon, the more Moon Knight’s strength, speed, and endurance are enhanced.
Furthermore, Marc’s “mental illness” works as a shield against psychic powers; a psychic mutant named “The Profile” found it hard to look at and be around Marc on account of Khonshu’s supernatural presence — or Marc’s unnatural belief in Khonshu that it disrupted Profile’s powers.
Marc’s wealth and association with the cult of Khonshu also afford him an arsenal of ancient and high-tech gadgets and weapons, including crescent moon boomerangs and axe-shaped lassos. In modern comics, Marc would add martial arts weapons like nunchucks and retractable Bō staffs to his arsenal.
In the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, he wielded escrima sticks which he used to fight Spider-Man.
Who Will Play Moon Knight?
Because of the recency of Marvel’s announcement of the Moon Knight TV series, there is currently no actor publicly attached to the role. One can only assume the casting process is underway.
Furthermore, it’s hard to guess who could play Marc and his many personalities in the MCU. The franchise has a history of not only recycling actors for multiple roles, but also casting unknowns. Remember: Robert Downey Jr. was a “risk” choice to play Iron Man, while Chris Hemsworth was “unknown” when Vulture reported his casting as Thor in 2009.
But for a handful of reasons, fans think Keanu Reeves would be the perfect star of Moon Knight. Besides the fact we’re heavily into “The Keanussance,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige revealed in an interview that the studio regularly courts Reeves for a role in the MCU.
“We talk to him for almost every film we make,” Feige told ComicBook.com. “I don’t know when, if, or ever he’ll join the MCU, but we very much want to figure out the right way to do it.”
Given that Moon Knight’s a handsome white guy, it’s not exactly the hardest thing to fan cast an actor for Moon Knight. One requirement would have to be that they’re somewhat older, however; late 30s to their 40s is about the range you should want for Moon Knight, as Marc’s lived a long life even before he ends up in Egypt before Khonshu.
Purely for fun, let’s just spitball some names: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Andrew Lincoln, Luke Evans, Jon Hamm, Damian Lewis, John Krasinski. Absolutely none of these actors are unknowns, but they’re all exciting to imagine suiting up as Moon Knight to tackle one of the most intriguing roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far.
There is no premiere date set for Moon Knight on Disney+.