Nerd Factor: Phases of the Moon Knight

Dr. Mike ~ U.L Communication Studies Professor

Moon Knight Promo Image – https://screenrant.com/moon-knight-poster-costume-design-oscar-isaac-details-image/

When I was younger, superhero movies and television shows were very risky propositions. Fans could find their favorite characters significantly altered by movie writers and TV producers before they reached the screens. For that reason, there was always a certain anxiety that came with the arrival of a new project. 

In modern times, that trepidation has been replaced with a giddy anticipation. Characters may be changed, but they are largely still in the spirit that made them so exciting to the fan in the first place. Sure, problems still occur. But when they do, it’s more a matter of narrative tone or performance rather than overall concept. The essence of the superhero was there. 

So, when Marvel talked of making an Ant-Man movie or DC started talking about Shazam, I was reasonably sure we’d get a new take on a favorite character. 

Yet sometimes a character comes along that really makes me wonder what version of the character we will get. Moon Knight is the perfect example. 

I love Moon Knight. I did not read many of his comics when they were first being published, but I became a great fan of the character later when I binged some collections of stories. When the Marvel Netflix series started up, I was constantly saying “Y’know who they should do next? Moon Knight!” So, I’ve been waiting for Moon Knight for a while now.

For the unfamiliar, Moon Knight is Marvel’s take on a Batman-style character, a street-level vigilante committed to busting up crime one punch at a time. But there have always been innovations to the character. While former mercenary Marc Spector makes amends for his past life by battling evil as Moon Knight, he adopts the persona of rich playboy Steven Grant and the persona of scruffy cabbie Jake Lockley. The difference is that Moon Knight has what used to be called multiple personality disorder back then and dissociative identity disorder now. These personalities are not disguises and at stressful times (most of the time when one is a superhero), Moon Knight has struggled to understand who he is, thus complicating his relationships with his assistant “Frenchie” Duchamp and his true love Marlene Alraune. 

Also baked into the character’s narrative DNA is a certain mystical strangeness. Spector’s heroic life begins when he saves his love Marlene from fellow mercenaries. Spector dies, but finds himself reborn before the statue of Konshu, Egyptian god of the Moon. While many Marvel characters instantly know they are beneficiaries of divine aid, Moon Knight remained unsure if Konshu was real or imagined for a long time. Later, Konshu’s role in Moon Knight’s life was expanded and the hero attained some superpowers. At times Moon Knight as worked for Konshu. At others, he was worked against his god. 

Oh, and did I mention in his very first appearance, Moon Knight fought a werewolf? I probably should have mentioned that. 

And sometimes Moon Knight wears different costumes too. He has that awesome, classic white cowl and cape (he wears white because he wants the bad guys to see him coming). But lately he’s had an all-white suit with a full-face mask. When he wears that, he’s just called “Mr. Knight.” 

Recent Marvel comics embrace all of these ideas into a wonderful frenzy of storytelling. At any given moment Moon Knight might be beating up muggers, taking on terrorists, fighting vampires who menace travelers in the night, or battling against supernatural beings. All the while, Moon Knight struggles to understand who he is and how his unique psychological perspective can aid his fight for justice and redemption.  

Even from watching the trailers, I cannot tell you exactly which Moon Knight is going to show up on Disney+. All of them, I hope. But I cannot wait to see what happens!

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