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 cuts into the first Moon Knight trailer and discusses some noteworthy aspects.
We haven’t quite reached the bottom of the barrel yet, but after more than a decade, Marvel Studios is happily adapting comic book characters who’ve never maintained a monthly series for more than a few years. Moon Knight is not a top-tier superhero, but he’s developed a small but passionate fanbase since his first appearance in the deliciously bizarre Werewolf by Night #32. 2022 is the year for those fans to gloat.
Moon Knight is ushering in Marvel’s second year on Disney+, and they’re not playing it safe by the looks of things. What we see in the below trailer is an unhinged character. As portrayed by Oscar Isaac, Steven Grant is teetering on oblivion’s precipice. He’s struggling with dissociate identity disorder, with one personality galivanting about as the mercenary Marc Spector and another wrapping himself in bandages and pummeling creatures in bathrooms.
The Umbrella Academy‘s Jeremy Slater serves as creator and head writer on Moon Knight, with Mohamed Diab (Clash) and the team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Spring, The Endless) directing. They’ve cobbled together a challenging series with a troubling, unreliable protagonist. There’s a scary, dangerous edge to Moon Knight, and it’s hard to imagine this costumed vigilante fighting alongside The Avengers. That’s pretty gosh darn exciting.
The trailer leaves its viewers uneasy with a lot of questions. Let’s see if we can sort some of it out together by picking at six critical details. We’ve got a weird one here, friends.
Khonshu in the Corridor
When we first meet Grant in the Moon Knight trailer, he’s a mild-mannered museum employee puttering about the gift shop. He complains of a sleep disorder, as his dreams are starting to invade his waking world. During one exceptional moment, Grant steps from an elevator and is greeted by a nightmarish figure sporting a bird’s skull for a head. This is Khonshu.
In the comics, when the soldier for hire Marc Spector was left for dead in the Egyptian desert after a mission went horribly wrong, the moon god Khonshu revived him. The vengeful entity dubbed Spector his fist and priest, pointing him toward dark forces requiring eradication. Together, they protect those who walk at night, under the celestial body orbiting Earth.
Throughout the years, various writers have questioned Khonshu’s existence. Is he an actual elder god, or just another one of Marc’s splintered personalities? Undoubtedly, the question will puzzle and terrify Isaac’s Grant throughout the Disney+ show.
“Why did you call me Marc?”
The Marc Spector personality is typically dominant in most Moon Knight stories. However, the Disney+ series seems to have positioned him somewhat in the background. Steven Grant will preoccupy the first several episodes, and Oscar Isaac plays him as a twitchy, frightful individual. His world comes crashing down when he discovers an unknown phone ringing in the walls of his apartment.
On the other end, we hear a woman’s voice, dubbed Layla by the closed captions. This is most likely May Calamawy playing an associate of Marc Spector. She says, “Oh my god, you’re alive. What’s wrong with you, Marc?”
I’m unaware of a Layla from the Moon Knight comics, but a Lyla DeCriscio first appeared in Moon Knight #197. She’s the adopted daughter of a hitman, and she eventually attempted to take control of the mob. When she went up against Khonshu’s agent, however, Lyla crumbled.
Lyla DeCriscio is not a significant character in the Moon Knight comics, but Jeremy Slater doesn’t seem interested in pulling out the usual suspects for his series. As indicated by the show’s main villain portrayed by Ethan Hawke.
Ethan Hawke is Arthur Harrow
We first see Ethan Hawke strolling through a European street, balancing himself on a cane. A crowd of people kneels at his feet, and we hear him speak directly at Grant, “The voices in your head…there’s chaos in you…embrace the chaos.”
As we learn Layla’s name from the captions, we also discover that Ethan Hawke is playing Dr. Arthur Harrow. This is an interesting choice as Harrow has only appeared in one comic book, Moon Knight #2. In that storyline, Harrow used Nazi science research to create zombie soldiers, a side effect in his quest to restore a physical disfigurement.
What draws Harrow to Steven Grant is unclear, but he is obviously interested in the multiple personalities living within the museum shopkeeper. Or, at least, one personality, the Moon Knight. You better be careful what you wish for, especially when you tell an Egyptian-possessed crusader to “embrace the chaos.”
“Embrace the Chaos”
Steven Grant becoming Moon Knight is not the simple task of putting on a costume. In the Moon Knight trailer, we see Oscar Isaac enveloped by bandages, the costume wrapping around him like the Venom symbiote slithers onto Eddie Brock. This is another flourish that doesn’t quite fit with the comic book.
Of course, when you’re adapting a lesser-known hero like Moon Knight, you have a lot more leeway to be creative. See also, Guardians of the Galaxy. As long as the end product is quality, we’ll be happy.
Moon Knight Monster in the Bathroom
The final Moon Knight trailer moment reveals Khonshu’s soldier in all his terrifying glory, smashing his fists into a creature that is most definitely not human. It’s hard to make out, but the brutalized beast under Moon Knight’s knuckles appears to have a snout and long ears, as well as crinkly animal flesh. With Dr. Arthur Harrow in play, this large monster could be one of his gnarly zombie soldiers.
With those glowing eyes and violent actions, the Disney+ Moon Knight doesn’t cry “Superhero.” We’re entering a much darker world with this character, one that will be more at home with the upcoming Blade than She–Hulk or Ms. Marvel. And that’s exciting. Marvel Studios is branching out, pushing into genres that don’t jive together at first glance.
Moon Knight starts streaming on Disney+ on March 30th.