Comics/Graphic Novels

Exactly Who is Moon Knight?

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Chris M. Arnone

Senior Contributor

The son of a librarian, Chris M. Arnone's love of books was as inevitable as gravity. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri - Kansas City. His novel, The Hermes Protocol, was published by Castle Bridge Media in 2023 and the next book in that series is due out in winter 2024. His work can also be found in Adelaide Literary Magazine and FEED Lit Mag. You can find him writing more books, poetry, and acting in Kansas City. You can also follow him on social media (Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, website).

Disney+ is about to launch another exciting Marvel Cinematic Universe show: Moon Knight. This begs the question: Who is Moon Knight? You may have seen the trailer, but this isn’t a marquee superhero in the comics. Then again, neither were the Guardians of the Galaxy or Jessica Jones before they appeared in the MCU.

image of Moon Knight protecting a child

A Moon Knight of Many Names

Moon Knight is Marc Spector.

And Steven Grant.

And Jake Lockley.

And an antihero, superpowered mercenary.

And a detective.

Wait, what? More than any comic book character I’ve written primers on in the past, Moon Knight is the most complex (though not the most complex comic book character — just give Cosmic Ghost Rider a search). Marc Spector is the primary identity, a man who grew up in a Jewish Chicago family. After a traumatic incident when he was young, Marc developed dissociative identity disorder. Ah, yes, the old mental-illness-makes-heroes-and-villains comic book trope.

image of Mr. Knight
Well, at least somebody dressed up for the date.

Steven Grant is an elite Hollywood producer. Jake Lockley is a cab driver and informant straight out of the film noir tradition. Moon Knight is the cape-and-spandex antihero. Mr. Knight is the detective clad in an alabaster suit. All of these are Marc Spector. All of these are Moon Knight.

Lunar Origins

Once he grew up, Spector tried to make it as a heavyweight boxer before serving as a Marine. While on a mission in Sudan, Spector witnessed notorious terrorist Raoul Bushman murder archeologist Peter Alraune. Marc saved Alraune’s daughter, Marlene, from a similar fate before confronting Raoul. The showdown didn’t go Marc’s way. He was left for dead in the tomb of Pharaoh Seti III. That was when Khonshu, the Egyptian moon god, brought Marc back as Moon Knight.

Moon Knight with Konshu, the chatty moon god
Moon Knight and Khonshu, the chatty moon god

Moon Knight’s first appearance was in Werewolf by Night #32 in 1975, in which he is hired to take down the titular character. After a three-night battle, Moon Knight wins, but decides to refuse his payday, due to his admiration of the lycanthropic protagonist. From those humble beginnings, Moon Knight has gone on to team up with the likes of Spider-Man, Captain America, and Punisher. He’s also served in several iterations of the Avengers.

image of Moon Knight on cover of Night of the Werewolf

Moon Knight’s Powers and Abilities

Marc Spector’s background as a boxer, Marine, and later CIA agent have made him into an excellent fighter. He’s also proven to be an apt detective, particularly when embodying the Mr. Knight or Jake Lockley personas. Much like another, darker knight with a different publisher, Moon Knight also has a utility belt, vehicles, and all sorts of other weaponry themed around the moon and Egyptian symbols.

image of Moon Knight as Spirit of Vengeance
I said get in the trunk!

As far as superpowers go, that’s a more complex answer. Much like the moon waxes and wanes, so do Moon Knight’s powers. At the lower levels, the antihero has displayed enhanced reflexes, strength, and durability. At the other end of the spectrum, Moon Knight has demonstrated godlike abilities when Khonshu deems it necessary. During the Avengers: Age of Khonshu storyline, Moon Knight took control of Mjolnir, the Iron Fist mantle, Doctor Strange’s magic, the Spirit of Vengeance (Ghost Rider’s power), and even the Phoenix Force.

Who is Moon Knight on Disney+?

Given what we’ve seen in the trailer, it looks like there will definitely be some dissociative aspects to Oscar Isaac’s portrayal of Marc Spector and Moon Knight. I doubt we’re going to see the full range of different personalities portrayed in the comics. I sincerely hope the show doesn’t do disservice to people who actually have dissociative identity disorder like so many old comics do.

What we know from the trailer is that this is Steven Grant, though he’s not a Hollywood producer. He’s a guy living in London who spends a lot of time (or maybe works?) at a museum with a big Egyptian collection. He also gets a phone call from an American woman who calls him Marc. And of course, he turns into Moon Knight in order to beat on bad guys and leap across roofs.

All of this makes for a man who looks broken, lost, and confused. He chains himself to the bed at night. He looks bedraggled in every little shot we get from the trailer. As for the Moon Knight persona, we see very little. The iconic white costume, some violence, and a leap are all we get. Will there be a Mooncopter or ankh-shaped weapons? Godlike powers? All of that is a mystery right now, but the focus of the show really seems to be about Steven/Marc and how his own mind haunts him.

Of course, this is just our introduction to Moon Knight in the MCU, and he doesn’t need to follow any of the paths laid out in the 616 universe. Do you think he’ll become part of the next MCU Avengers? Will he be the next big bad with Khonshu backing him?