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Nearly three years ago, Marvel Studios announced its intentions to produce a Disney+ TV show based on the character of Moon Knight. After two years of life in a pandemic, that D23 reveal in August 2019 feels like it came out an eternity ago.
But an eternity for us lowly humans is like a blip (pun intended) for the all-powerful Khonshu, an Ancient Egyptian deity who turns mercenary Marc Spector into his proxy on Earth. Let's slow that roll, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. Head below for a brief crash course on every single thing you need to know about Moon Knight before the series lands before our eyeballs this Wednesday.
When does the show come out?
The first episode of Moon Knight will premiere on Disney+ Wednesday, March 30. Like every other original series released onto the platform, new episodes — there are six in total for this one — are scheduled to drop on a weekly basis. If you live on the East Coast and don't mind staying up into the wee hours of the morning, you can be among the first to check out fresh installments as they go live around 3am EST / 12am PST. Some lucky viewers have already seen the first four episode, but we'll talk more about their thoughts later.
At the D23 presentation, Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige described the title as "a new action-adventure series ... a very famous Marvel character for many years, Marc Spector. He was a mercenary, he was left for dead in the Egyptian desert, and he now may or may not be infused powers from Khonshu, the moon god...or he might just be crazy. It is something very unique and exciting for us."
How can you watch the show?
This shouldn't come as surprise to anyone, but a Disney+ subscription is required to check this one out, no exceptions. The platform offers two main pricing options: monthly access for $7.99 or an annual package for $79.99 upfront. In addition, there's a bundle option that nets you Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $13.99 a month. If you prefer seeing Marvel productions on the big screen, don't worry — all of these small screen efforts will eventually tie into the studio's big screen blockbusters. Ms. Marvel for instance, has her own show premiering on Disney+ this summer before the character appears in the Captain Marvel sequel — The Marvels — next year.
"There was a lot of room to try stuff because there wasn’t the pressure that we got to make sure we make however many hundreds of millions of dollars on the opening weekend," Moon Knight star Oscar Isaac said of the decision to bring Marc Spector to market via a TV show rather than a feature film. "So we could make it very point-of-view. We could make very weird decisions. At the moment, at least — and I don’t imagine it’s going to go backwards — it feels like that’s where more of the risk is being taken because it can financially."
What is Moon Knight about and who's in it?
Isaac (who previously appeared in the Marvel Universe by way of X-Men: Apocalypse) steps into the neurotic shoes of Steven Grant. Steven is a mild-mannered museum gift shop employee in London who comes to learn that he shares the same body with American mercenary, Marc Spector.
"My initial thing was, 'No, I don't want to go back into that kind of machinery,'" Isaac admitted last month. "I did that already. The last thing I want is to be on a massive set, [thinking], 'What am I doing here?'... Often on these big movies, it can feel like you're building the plane on the runway. The idea of getting back to 'handmade' films, character studies... I was desperate for that feeling."
Created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin in the mid-1980s, Spector began life as the wayward son of an Orthodox rabbi. Instead of becoming a clergyman like his father, Marc sought out a life of thrills and adventure, ultimately becoming a man who'd do anything...for the right price, of course. During a mission in Egypt, he was betrayed and left for dead. However, he got a second shot at life by agreeing to serve as a proxy for Khonshu (rumored to be voiced in the Disney+ show by Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham) in the mortal realm. The live-action interpretation of the classic hero, however, is based less on the original comics and more on the acclaimed run by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Greg Smallwood, in which Marc grapples with a tenuous grip on reality. Steven and Marc are going to have to figure out their differences quick because a dangerous cult leader by the name of Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) is after them.
While the baddie goes back almost 40 years, the version we'll meet onscreen is like nothing Marvel fans have seen before. In the comics, he's a brilliant scientist with connections to gruesome Nazi experiments that took place during the Holocaust. In the show, he's something of a dangerous cult leader with the ability to summon dark magical forces.
"One of the intriguing elements Marvel presented me with was the opportunity to come up with a new villain," Hawke Empire for the magazine's April 2022 issue (now on sale). "When you build a character, you create a blender and throw things in. So I threw in David Koresh, Fidel Castro, the Dalai Lama, Tolstoy. The best villains are the ones that think they're here, and that's definitely Dr. Harrow. He sees Moon Knight as an obstacle to him healing the world."
Ramy vet May Calamawy rounds out the principal cast as Layla El-Faouly, a woman from Marc's mercenary past. Appearing in a short behind-the-scenes featurette, the actress characterized the project as "Fight Club meets Indiana Jones."
Who are the people behind behind the camera?
Moon Knight hails from head writer/executive producer Jeremy Slater (known for Netflix's Death Note and Warner Bros.' upcoming sequel to Mortal Kombat). While Marc has sometimes been compared to DC's Batman (given that both characters are rich, use cool gadgets, and operate at night), Slater wasn't interested in presenting a carbon copy of the Caped Crusader.
"It was never a comparison I was interested in making," he told Empire for the magazine's April 2022 issue (now on sale). "Batman has an 80-year head start on us: you're not going to beat Batman at his own game. We've seen that side of Moon Knight [in some comics] as a playboy philanthropist, throwing moon-shaped boomerangs, flying around in a moon-shaped plane, but I don't think that's the coolest possible version of the character."
One thing the creative team didn't want to compromise on was the hero's penchant for brutality. “It’s been fun to work with Disney+ and see the boundaries shifting on what we’re able to do," Feige, who also serves as an executive producer, explained to Empire. "There are moments [in the series] when Moon Knight is wailing on another character, and it is loud and brutal, and the knee-jerk reaction is, ‘We’re gonna pull back on this, right?’ No. We’re not pulling back. There’s a tonal shift. This is a different thing. This is Moon Knight."
Production began in Hungary last March, with directors Mohamed Diab and the duo of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead behind the camera. Diab, who is a native of Egypt, saw Moon Knight as an opportunity to pay proper respect to his homeland in pop culture.
“In my pitch, there was a big part about Egypt, and how inauthentically it has been portrayed throughout Hollywood’s history," the filmmaker said in an interview with SFX Magazine. "It’s always exotic – we call it 'orientalism'. It dehumanizes us. We are always naked, we are always sexy, we are always bad, we are always over the top."
Diab is also an EP alongside Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Grant Curtis, Brad Winderbaum, and Oscar Isaac. Trevor Waterson and Rebecca Kirsch are co-executive producers.
Here's what people are saying about the show
As we mentioned earlier, a handful of critics and journalists were granted access to the first four episodes of Moon Knight. The first reactions to hit Twitter praised the dark tone, with some drawling comparisons to the Marvel Netflix projects like Daredevil. "I'm all in!" SYFY WIRE's own Vanessa Armstrong exclaimed on her feed. "It's weird and twisted in unexpected ways, and a few episodes even give me that 1999's #TheMummy vibe, which is never a bad thing. Can't wait to see how the series ends!"
The future of Moon Knight
Will we see Moon Knight again in the MCU? Nothing is confirmed, but Slater has high hopes. Besides, he'd be perfect for the Midnight Sons (a group of supernatural heroes like Ghost Rider, Blade, and Werewolf by Night).
"I can't imagine this is the last time you'll see Moon Knight in the MCU," the showrunner remarked during a conversation for Empire's 2022 issue (now on sale). "He's too much fun."
"It depends on whether people see the freakin' show first," added Oscar Isaac, who plays Marc Spector and serves as an executive producer on the hotly-anticipated project. "If they see it, then maybe we'll see more Moon Knight. But I love playing him. Particularly Steven [Grant, Marc's British alter ego]. I hope I get to revisit him again. I love him so much. I feel he's someone real, who lives in the world. It's been a long time since I felt that kind of connection."
Sabir Pirzada, a member of the Moon Knight writers' room, was tapped to head up a mystery Nova project just this week.