Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Moon Knight episode two. Please proceed with caution if you have yet to watch the episode.
When it comes to adapting the colorful characters from the expansive world of Marvel comics, though Marvel Studios almost always significantly alters key characteristics and events, it still keeps the crux. But when it comes to debuting Moon Knight’s latest eccentric alter ego, Mr. Knight, in the titular Disney Plus series, while the creators retained his outer appearance, they flipped his comic book persona on its head for the show. But despite the glaring differences, they could not have been more on point.
In case you are still holding out on watching the latest Marvel series, here is the last warning that this article will contain spoilers for Moon Knight episode two.
In the second episode of the series, Steven Grant is on the run from Arthur Harrow, his terrifying powers (courtesy of the Ammit’s cane), and his supernatural creatures coupled with his brain-washed human goons. In the ensuing chaos, the Egyptian god of Moon Khonshu commands Steven to summon the suit and the panicked former museum gift shop employee does just that.
But instead of donning the ceremonial armor we see Marc Spector wear whenever he becomes Moon Knight, he does a botched superhero landing in a three-piece all-white attire that prompts his annoyed alter ego to point out how he looks like “Psycho Colonel Sanders.” But even though there is no denying that Steven does cut a dashing figure in his white tuxedo as Mr. Knight and looks exactly like his comic counterpart, this alter ego is very, very different from how Marvel comic books readers know him.
Mr. Knight ditches his Marvel comic books roots
In terms of how Mr. Knight appears, from his moon-sign embossed mask to his golden batons, the three-piece suit is the most comic-book accurate adaptation that MCU has served in a long time. But when it comes to the story behind the suit and describing the identity behind the mask, Moon Knight’s Mr. Knight couldn’t be more disconnected from the comic books.
Mr. Knight, who debuted for the first time in 2014’s Moon Knight #1 by Warren Ellis, Jordie Bellaire, and Declan Shalvey, is one of the latest personalities of Marc Spector to appear in the comics. This alternate persona of the character was introduced to fill in for the ruthless Moon Knight’s inability to co-exist and cooperate with the police when it came to investigating crimes.
Unlike Moon Knight, who is more concerned with rectifying the wrong with a heavy hand, Mr. Knight in the comic books is smart, shrewd and more adept at being a people’s person which allows him to assist the police in cases and aids in his prime mission — protecting innocents who are in danger as opposed to Moon Knight’s serving justice with an iron fist.
Also, in the comics, the Mr. Knight persona is a standalone alter-ego of Marc, a separate identity with individual characteristics different from the other three personalities he has.
But in the Disney Plus series, Mr. Knight is completely different, just like the meek former gift shop employee Steven is nothing like the suave millionaire we met in the Marvel comic books. For starters, like the Moon Knight armor in the series, the Mr. Knight suit is also part of the magic Khonshu has bestowed upon Steven/Marc and appears out of thin air upon being summoned whereas, in the comics both costumes were manually worn.
Another difference is how Mr. Knight manifests himself. In the series, he is not a separate persona and is instead what Steven perceives a cool guy with superpowers would look like. In a way, it is the superhero extension of Steven’s own personality, which is the biggest deviation the show takes from the character’s portrayal in the comic books.
For now, he doesn’t appear to be clever and wise or calm and collected — qualities that majorly set him apart from Moon Knight in the comic books. He is still very much the Steven Grant we have known so far, evidenced by the fact that even in the face of certain death (like when he was up against the supernatural jackal), the best he can think to say is “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, my name is Steven with a V.” He is anxious, scared, and far from being the badass Mr. Knight comic book readers are well-acquainted with.
A distinction that makes perfect sense
But even though Moon Knight has not completely embraced the comic books when it comes to depicting Mr. Knight, his portrayal in the series couldn’t be more perfect. For a limited series of six episodes, it would have been a headache to differentiate between five different personalities, something which would have only complicated the already complex plot of the show.
Also, it fits the narrative of the show to make Mr. Knight Steven’s superhero avatar, as a simple-minded man like him wouldn’t think of a Batman-like cape or skin-tight suit when he thinks of being a superhero — his definition of the same is someone who looks dapper in a three-piece suit.
Similarly, he carries none of the confidence and brashness exhibited by Marc Spector or his heroic persona. It wouldn’t have made sense if his extension of Khonshu’s powers carried the charisma Mr. Knight of the Marvel comic book has — Steven hasn’t yet faced the hell Marc has gone through or experienced the trauma that has hardened his alter-ego. He is still someone who finds it tough to stand up to people and goes into instant panic mode in the face of danger.
With all the superbeings in the MCU who lose their clumsiness the second they get their powers, it is a breath of fresh air to see an everyday man who doesn’t suddenly understand that “with great power comes great responsibility” and just wants his life back, no matter lonely, demeaning, and directionless it was. As explained by director Aaron Moorhead in a chat with Marvel:
“Mr. Knight is Steven Grant’s vision of a cool guy, a svelte man. Being gifted the suit doesn’t mean that you are gifted fighting abilities. And if you don’t have skills, then you are going to lose this fight.”
Given the current trajectory of the show and our first impression of Mr. Knight, it is safe to presume that Steven/Mr. Knight will have to wade his way through multiple trials and errors before he perfects his side gig as a Sherlockian superhero.