Marvel is producing a Moon Knight series for Disney Plus, and there’s every chance it’s going to be epic. It’s also been a long time coming. Created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin, Moon Knight’s comics debut was in Werewolf by Night #32 back in 1975. Comparisons to Batman get made, but real fans know there’s a night and day difference between the two characters. For one thing, where Batman hides in the shadows, Moon Knight is “the one you see coming.”
Moon Knight has a delightfully comic book-y origin. Marc Spector is an ex-mercenary, left for dead at an archeological dig. The Egyptian moon god Khonshu saved Spector, who now fights as the Fist of Khonshu here on Earth. He also has multiple identities — like the millionaire Steven Grant and the blue-collar taxi driver Jake Lockley, among others. Early in his history, the identities were more or less utility devices for Moon Knight. Now those identities have consumed him, giving Spector Dissociative Identity Disorder. That diagnosis, along with his absolute willingness to kill, sets Moon Knight far apart from puritanical Batman.
Rumors of Moon Knight making it on screen have been around as long as the MCU itself. There’s always been some hesitation because of the dark tone and violent nature of his story. Disney Plus represents the greatest opportunity for the character. WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier have been met with mass approval, and everyone is excited to see what Marvel does next on Disney Plus. Moon Knight can capitalize on this moment by taking advantage of lessons from a previous Marvel live-action series: Daredevil.
Believe it or not, in 2015 people saw Netflix’s Daredevil as a risky play for Marvel. Streaming hadn’t fully consumed television yet. The Marvel Cinematic Universe itself had spread as far as network TV, and many didn’t think a darker, more violent story like Daredevil‘s could even fit into its world. Six years later, Charlie Cox is all but certainly bringing the character to the big screen.
Daredevil got so much right that the show not only overcame doubters but launched the Marvel/Netflix partnership, which would end up creating six different series for a combined thirteen seasons of television. The first move for Daredevil was the same for any good superhero story — assembling the team. Charlie Cox was perfectly cast for Matt Murdock, but the real stroke of casting genius was finding enough star power for the show’s villain. Vincent D’Onofrio’s casting stoked excitement, and his Kingpin portrayal blew people away.
Great actors in great stories is a Marvel standard. Something entirely new to Daredevil was the action style. The MCU is somewhat infamous for messily edited action scenes where heroes fight with no stakes against faceless CGI villains. Daredevil set out to do the opposite. To tell a darker story, the show needed to feel real.
Daredevil’s now-famous “hallway scene” epitomizes its approach to creating believable action. In a three minute one-take, Daredevil brawls through nearly a dozen goons. The stakes are clear: he needs to rescue someone at the end of the hallway. The camera puts viewers right next to the action, so they practically feel every punch and kick. Daredevil feels it to. His enemies beat and bruise him, and by the end of the fight Murdock is victorious but bloody and heaving for breath.
All of Daredevil feels like that. Its realism makes viewers ache for their favorite characters because the pain feels so real. Because Daredevil thoroughly grounds its story, viewers feel like Murdock and his friends have the potential to lose, and that keeps them guessing when the story takes darker and darker turns.
Marvel hasn’t said very much about Moon Knight yet, but what they have revealed is promising. The first major casting announcement for the show was Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector. Longtime fans of the character can’t wait to see Isaac’s take on the Fist of Khonshu. More recently, the show cast Ethan Hawke to play its villain. Which character he is playing is still a mystery. Some think Hawke will be portraying Mephisto, after the character’s notable absence from WandaVision. Other fans suspect Dracula, posing the theory that Moon Knight will lead into the MCU’s Blade, the Vampire Slayer.
The show’s plot is still a tightly kept secret, but when it comes to the action, Marvel seems to be paying attention to what it learned from Daredevil. Isaac’s production company shared a behind-the-scenes clip that shows him practicing some of his fight choreography. It absolutely looks “hallway scene” caliber.
Hopefully, fans won’t have to wait much longer for more Moon Knight details. Filming is already underway, and Marvel has brought on a number of exciting indie directors to handle some of the show’s episodes. Marvel hasn’t announced a release date for the show. It will likely come to Disney Plus early in 2022. Until then, there are always the Netflix shows.