Moon Knight‘s season finale has been a hit, showing us the titular character at the height of his powers and throwing in a godly kaiju battle for good measure. But one of the unexpected highlights of the episode was seeing May Calamawy’s Layla El-Faouly accept Tawaret’s offer and become the MCU’s newest superhero.
This made her essentially the MCU’s first original superhero, though the character is admittedly heavily influenced by the comics character Marlene Alraune and her superhero persona is a take on the obscure hero the Scarlet Scarab. Even so, the origin of her powers, kickass costume, and skillset are all unique to the MCU.
In a chat with Variety, Moon Knight producer and director Mohamed Diab has gone into detail on how important it was to get Layla’s new persona right.
“First thing, I want to give thanks to the writers who created the idea of Layla being an Egyptian. When Sarah [Goher], my wife and producer on the show, and I came along, we helped develop the character as Egyptians. When May came along, she became Layla’s biggest ally.
The most important thing for us wasn’t just the idea of a superhero, but the idea of making her completely the opposite of every trope about Arab woman as submissive or weak. I’ve directed three movies: women in my movies are completely fierce and strong — like my mom, my sister, my wife and my daughter.”
He went on to explain that they knew Layla would be an important figure for Egyptian girls and thus they wanted to do justice to the character.
“As a superhero, we knew that this is going to be historic. My daughter, when she was five, she wanted to straighten her hair. I had to take her to Disneyland and tell Princess Elsa and Anna, “Please tell her that her hair is beautiful.” She never saw anything on TV that looks like her. So today, seeing Layla, you don’t know what that means to people who look like us. It’s very important.
Moon Knight is becoming a national pride in Egypt. People treat it like the Egyptian Black Panther. They love that behind the camera, there are Egyptians; in front of the camera, there are Egyptians. There’s Egyptian music that the world is enjoying. They believe in themselves. They believe they can do anything right now. I’m so proud of that.”
While Layla stressed that her being an avatar is a temporary arrangement, the episode was unclear as to whether Tawaret agreed to the same. But we hope this new version of Layla combined with the affable hippopotamus deity sticks around.
But any potential future appearance is currently unknown. Nobody (save perhaps Kevin Feige) knows whether Moon Knight will return for a second season, which would be the obvious place for Layla to continue her superhero story. But the MCU is a big place with ever-growing possibilities. For example, it’d be fun to see new Captain America Sam Wilson comparing notes on their wings or any of the Eternals discussing the cosmological aspects of the Egyptian deities being real.
Moon Knight is available to stream in full on Disney Plus.