Marvel Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Marvel shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry explores Moon Knight Episode 2 (“Summon the Suit”) and considers how the new Mr. Knight costume builds character. Yes, prepare for SPOILERS.
Most superheroes are not much different than us. Batman, Superman, Spider-Man – they put on the spandex just as we would, one leg at a time. Moon Knight, however? He’s fancy. He summons the suit.
Whichever personality is driving the bus, Marc Spector or Steven Grant, when it comes time for the Body to throwdown against demon dogs, he invites the ceremonial armor from Khonshu’s temple upon him. Seemingly oozing from his pores, the suit slowly envelops the Body. A minute earlier, the creatures faced a man. Now, they face a fellow monster.
This dramatic costume change experienced throughout Moon Knight Episode 2 significantly departs from the comics. And it further removes him from the other caped crusaders already patrolling the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Moon Knight is not on a personal revenge quest or a dead uncle guilt trip. No, he serves as a fist for a vengeful god. He’s a right hook, deployed when required.
Traditionally, Moon Knight has a rather ordinary relationship with his costume. It’s a thing he wears, his chosen style. In 2011’s Secret Avengers #11, the fashion possibilities altered when artist Michael Lark and writer Warren Ellis designed a new get-up for Steven Grant.
In this storyline, Grant dons a white business suit and mask. No hood. The only real reasoning behind the updated look was that it better suited the comic’s 007 super spy vibe. Grant was a sharped-dressed man, and the new figure popped on the page in a way his old duds didn’t. The previous Moon Knight had become ordinary, dismissable.
A few years later (2014), Ellis wrote the new Moon Knight solo series. He and artist Declan Shalvey brought the sharped-dressed man look back, re-grounding the character as a street-level protector, watching over those who travel at night. He works hand-in-hand with the police, but they dare not acknowledge their cooperation with a vigilante. They can’t bring themselves to call the masked man Moon Knight, and instead, they address the bruiser who punches on Khonshu’s behalf as “Mr. Knight.”
Don’t worry; the cape and hood return. While the cops aren’t looking, Grant swoops into combat wearing his battle suit. No scum is safe−unless they’re undead. In the Ellis and Shalvey series, when Moon Knight squares off against some ghostly punks (of the CBGB variety), he adorns magical garments, including a big bird beak helmet that mimics Khonshu’s visage. This blessed wardrobe allows his fists to connect with the specters.
After Ellis and Shalvey left the book, Moon Knight relaunched a few more times, with one new number one issue coming after the next. If you think reboots are bad in movies, you better steady yourself before entering the comics scene. The writers who followed slowly developed the Mr. Knight costume into another persona.
Running “The Midnight Mission,” a sanctuary for the lost, Mr. Knight operates as a composed, slightly aloof ass-kicker who delights in bashing vampires, zombies, and other supernatural ghouls. The suit distracts from the obvious hellraiser who wears it. When Mr. Knight is in the room, the baddies relax a bit, distracted from the obvious beast in front of them. When Mr. Knight disappears and the hooded Moon Knight arrives, there’s no denying the impending melee. The hooded costume is a war suit.
Moon Knight readers frickin’ adore the Mr. Knight iteration, and the minute Disney+ alluded to his arrival in the series, their anticipation hit a frenzy. Now, Moon Knight Episode 2 is here, and Oscar Isaac’s Mr. Knight is not exactly what we expected.
As depicted in this week’s episode, the meeker Steven Grant persona called forth the suit while controlling the Body as the tougher Marc Spector persona remained trapped in the passenger seat. It’s the show’s way of explaining the costume change. Mr. Knight is a reflection of Grant’s personality, not Spector’s. The result is something a touch goofier and a little more playful. He’s not the wrecking ball Ellis and Shalvey once imagined in Moon Knight #5. A comic every fan of The Raid should read.
Grant’s Mr. Knight is not very effective against Dr. Harrow’s rabid hounds. He’s playing badass. He is not a badass. And he gets his butt handed to him. So much so, Grant eventually relinquishes control of the Body, allowing Marc Spector to summon the ceremonial armor we first saw during Episode 1’s climax.
Mr. Knight portrayed as a bumbling defender irks some. It’s another case where the cinematic interpretation swings differently from the comic books. We should be used to this sensation by now, Marvel Studios has never been about direct one-to-one adaptations, but certain folks still demand to take their shock and disappointment to Twitter. Little good it will do them.
Honestly, the coolness factor surrounding Mr. Knight is less interesting than how the Body manifests it. Or manifests any suit for that matter. The costume depicted in the Moon Knight series is not really a costume. It’s an extension of Khonshu’s will, a blessing bestowed upon the Body so they can achieve a god’s command.
The Disney+ Moon Knight summons the suit in the same fashion any Japanese Henshin hero would. Oscar Isaac’s Moon Knight doesn’t get dressed like Batman; he gets dressed like Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, or their American cousins, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
The Body transforms into Moon Knight, ascending the flesh to demi-god status. The action puts Moon Knight on a playing field away from Iron Man, Captain America, and even Thor. After all, the notion that the Asgardians are gods stems from humanity’s ignorance of their super science. As Jane Foster quotes Arthur C. Clark in Odinson’s first feature, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Can we say the Body’s suit summoning is not magic? It’s not technology, right? Not as we know it in Episode 2. Khonshu appears to be a legit god, assuming he’s not another creation of the Body, which is an assumption we shouldn’t make. The comics have teetered back and forth regarding Khonshu as another splinter of Marc Specter’s psyche. We can sense the show doing the same.
Currently, the books have Khonshu firmly established as a deity, but that means nothing when talking about Marvel Studios’ properties. If they’re happy to ditch suits for summonings, they’ll be just as happy to ditch gods for fractured egos.
At Moon Knight’s core is a question of control. Are we watching Steven Grant’s story? Are we watching Marc Specter’s story? Are we actually watching someBODY else’s story? Is singular perspective even possible?
Moon Knight Episode 1 is now streaming on Disney+.