Who is Moon Knight?

Before Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight hits Disney Plus in 2022, here’s the long and short the Marvel character.

Created in 1975 by Doug Moench and Don Perlin, Moon Knight made his comics debut in Werewolf by Night #32 before launching into his own comic series later that year. Moench had also written the seminal Shang-Chi comic run called Masters of Kung Fu from 1974 to 1983.

So who is Moon Knight? Well…

Marc Spector was a mercenary who traveled to Egypt but got whacked by a colleague named Raoul. After dying in an Egyptian temple to the god of the moon⏤Khonshu⏤he was reborn as his messenger and “fist” of Khonshu. Spector’s unease with his line of work, and subsequent rebirth, made him rethink his purpose.

Upon returning to New York, he sought to right the wrongs of society in vigilante justice as Moon Knight. 

Much like The Simpsons Krusty the Clown, his father is a Rabbi that Spector is estranged from. 

His dissociative identity disorder (D.I.D.) is explained and done differently across comic iterations. In the 2016 run, his D.I.D. is not exactly a mental illness, but rather a plague of space locusts who have taken habitat to his mind.

Whether or not it was childhood trauma or Khonshu’s psychic connection that causes his D.I.D. is left open for interpretation. His D.I.D. manifests itself classically into several personas who reappear across iterations and runs. The major players are:

  • Steven Grant, eccentric billionaire and businessman 
  • Jake Lockley, local cab driver and rough-as-guts bloke
  • Inner Child, a young girl 
  • Mr. Knight, a white-suit and masked man and police consultant.
  • Moon Knight, his classic crime-fighting alter-ego with white cape and hood 

His power set has always been fairly consistent, with no superhuman abilities but with expert martial arts and armed combat knowledge, expert detective skills, and high-tech tools. During older runs, he would gain extra powers from the lunar cycle, but this has not been seen regularly in modern Moon Knight stories. 

Whilst often referred to as a Batman clone or Batman-lite, Moon Knight has always had more edge. He has no qualms when it comes to killing, can travel within people’s brains when they sleep, and may or may not also be the messenger of an Egyptian god. 

His all-white outfit not only stands out in comic panels, but has purpose in and of itself. Batman doesn’t want his enemies to see him coming, but Moon Knight does. His look is unique and during action sequences looks incredible. 

One of the most famous modern Moon Knight panels is him kicking a criminal so hard that the criminal vomits. Needlessly over the top? Yes. Great set piece? Also yes. The way he often barracks through hallways just chopping blokes with his fists is very much akin to classic Daredevil. His fighting style is focussed on doing the maximum amount of damage⏤ he doesn’t block or dodge attacks from foes⏤ he sees taking damage as an opportunity to counterattack and afflict more.

Moon Knight kicking a criminal so hard, he vomits. (Moon Knight #5, 2014)

When it comes to his rogue’s gallery, it’s not the most impressive in the Marvel mythos, but often modern stories don’t have him encounter superhuman foes. He’s street-level crime and occasionally supernatural. That said, he has two major arch-rivals in Raoul Bushman and Black Spectre.

Perhaps cliched, Moon Knight’s biggest battles are within himself. It’s his struggles with his multiple personalities that are the cause of so many of his conflicts. 

During the 2016 run, the story takes place within a weird interdimensional plane of existence that also acts as Spector’s personal mind prison. Spector is led to believe that Moon Knight is merely a movie role he played as an actor in his life⏤that all his adventures were just scenes from his movies. Him breaking free owes a lot to his realizations of who he is and also realizing that Moon Knight does exist. 

In crossover stories, Moon Knight is similar to the Punisher. Nobody wants to deal with them because they’re deemed insane by fellow heroes and villains alike. During Civil War, neither Iron Man nor Captain America accepts Moon Knight’s allegiance.

The Punisher and Moon Knight catching up (The Punisher #14, 2019)

Heroes who have often interacted with Moon Knight in comics include Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange. He’s been a member of both the West Coast Avengers and The Avengers, alongside stints with the Heroes For Hire and Defenders.

In the upcoming Disney Plus show, Moon Knight will be portrayed by Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, The Force Awakens). Alongside him confirmed in the cast are Ethan Hawke (Boyhood, Before trilogy) as an unnamed antagonist and Max Calamaway (Ramy, The Long Road Home) in a key role.

Marvel head Kevin Feige has confirmed that Moon Knight will appear in future films following his debut on the streaming service but has not a particular timeline for that happening.

Moon Knight is set for a 2022 release on Disney Plus, with episodes directed by Egyptian director Mohamed Diab as well as American duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. The season will consist of six episodes with an eye on further seasons being released.