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The Many Faces of Moon Knight, Explained

What to expect and who we might meet in Oscar Isaac’s first foray into the MCU and beyond

Moon Knight Explained
Illustration by Ben Kaye
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    There’s more than meets the eye with Marc Spector, as we’re soon about to learn from the latest Marvel television series, Moon Knight. The highly anticipated series debuts Wednesday (March 30th) on Disney+, and it’s set to be a wild character study unlike anything seen in the MCU.

    Beyond his nightly habit of donning a silver cape and cowl as the crime-fighting titular Marvel Comics antihero, Marc has the unique distinction of battling for justice while facing his own dissociative identity disorder (DID), which splits his psyche into entirely separate entities. Star Oscar Isaac proudly proclaimed in the first featurette that they are “putting a lens on” the character’s fundamental psychological health aspects. With only a few hints of dueling personalities in the preceding trailers, however, it’s unclear how fleshed out each of Marc’s alters will be when they arrive in the show.

    The deliberate integration of Marc’s alters is not only likely but completely understandable; after all, it took decades after his 1975 introduction in Doug Moench and Don Perlin’s Werewolf by Night No. 32 for him to progress from a four-fold persona that’s played as a gimmick — glibly labeled as schizophrenia in early issues — to a nuanced, fully realized character study.

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    Though the identities teased so far are either shrouded in secrecy or noticeably far removed from their comic book counterparts, the similar, slow-building evolution of every facet of Moon Knight’s being within the show stands to serve a huge role in the MCU. Not only will it mark an unflinching push toward more mature themes, brutal action, and a horror-supernatural tone, but it stands to elevate the complexity of superhero storytelling via the complexities of its protagonist.

    Below we’ll examine the comic roots of each of the ever-shifting faces of Moon Knight and how the character’s entrance into the MCU could signal where we’re headed next.


    Marc Spector — The Real Me

    Moon Knight 2017 Issue 14 Jeff Lemire Greg Smallwood Marvel Comics

    Image courtesy of Marvel Comics

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    Raised in Chicago as the son of a rabbi, Marc Spector begins to present symptoms of dissociative identity disorder as a child following a traumatic encounter with a Nazi serial killer (a detail only recently revealed in a 2018 comic run written by Say Anything’s Max Bemis).

    Spector’s debut comic appearance as an adult is only a few panels long before he disappears behind the Moon Knight garments, but it’s not the most charitable of first impressions. While seeking employ from The Committee crime syndicate, his extensive rap sheet includes being a former CIA agent and Marine (now ret-conned as a dishonorably discharged Iraq War veteran), and an active globe-trotting mercenary with unparalleled martial arts and weaponry expertise.

    His career leads him under the wing of the steel-toothed warlord Raoul Bushman, who causes Spector to have a crisis of conscience after attacking a group of archaeologists near the Egypt-Sudan border. Wounded and left for dead in the desert by Bushman, Marc succumbs to his injuries and is subsequently brought to the tomb of Pharaoh Seti II by survivors of Bushman’s attack, who coincidentally place him at an altar for the Egyptian god of the moon and vengeance, Khonshu.

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    Despite being pronounced dead on arrival, Marc inexplicably awakens, seemingly resurrected by the Moon God with an immediate sense of purpose to enact vengeance as Khonshu’s avatar. Marc decamps to New York under the assumed alias Steven Grant, with only his faithful associate Frenchie and rescued beau Marlene knowing his true identity and the accompanying alter ego Moon Knight.

    Despite offering the most utility to the caped crimefighter’s endeavors with his trained marksman and combat abilities, Spector is often withdrawn and left by the wayside as a means to cope with his ruthless past as a soldier-of-fortune. As the dominant personality, he has taken on the role of art gallery purveyor and television show producer, but mainly Spector divides his time between using his skills to the fullest as Moon Knight and wresting control back from his other personas.

    Based on trailers so far, the latter appears to be Marc’s only preoccupation in the Moon Knight series, who only becomes aware of his existence as Steven’s psyche unravels.

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