‘Moon Knight’ star and director talk the importance of representation

moon knight

There may have been some very minor backlash over the non-Jewish Oscar Isaac being cast in the title role, but for the most part, upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe series Moon Knight continues the franchise’s push towards a greater increase in diversity and representation across the board.

The fan favorite superhero’s origins are heavily indebted to Egyptian mythology, and that’s reflected most notably in two key members of the creative team. Egypt-born documentarian and filmmaker Mohamed Diab is listed as an executive producer on the show, and he also splits directing duties with Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead.

In front of the camera, May Calamawy (who was born in Bahrain to a Palestinian mother and Egyptian father) takes third billing behind Isaac and Ethan Hawke as Layla El-Faouly, a key figure from Marc Spector’s past. In the latest issue of Empire magazine, the actress praised Diab’s attention to detail and accuracy in even the smallest moments.

“It wouldn’t have the authenticity it does… Mohamed would add tiny details — the text of a prayer over a shop-front — that someone who is Arab would really appreciate. That kind of representation can change people’s lives.” 

Diab admits that he’s fully aware of his trailblazing status in the MCU, and he underlined the importance of representation as a whole, not just under the Marvel Studios banner.

“There are 300 million people in the Arab world, and I’m the first to [direct a major Marvel project]: that’s beyond huge. May’s character, too — screen representation is so important. If people never see an Arab character that’s normal or funny, that’s why they accept stereotypes. Representation could save lives. It could stop wars. I swear.”

We’re only a few weeks away from Moon Knight premiering on streaming, and we now know the Egypt-set scenes will be as authentic as possible, at least within the context of a blockbuster comic book adaptation.