In Moon Knight episode three, we met several of the MCU’s ancient Egyptian gods. But ultimately, we didn’t meet our true god MVP until episode four. Moon Knight then brought us Marvel’s version of the ancient Egyptian goddess Taweret, who came fully to life on our screens. In mythology, Taweret often takes the form of a woman with the head of a hippo. And the MCU has now delivered the goddess in all her hippo goddess glory, even keeping the detail of Taweret’s human hair. But who is Taweret and how will she impact Moon Knight and the MCU, at large? It turns out, she may have a big role to play going forward.
Who Is Moon Knight‘s Hippo God Taweret in Egyptian Mythology?
In ancient Egyptian mythology, Taweret was known as the goddess of pregnancy and motherhood. Taweret was a protector goddess of women and children. The myths about Taweret initially depicted her as a violent goddess, hence her association with animals such as the hippo. As mentioned, Taweret often gets depicted with the head of a hippo. Although in mythology, she also has associations with the lion and the crocodile. Interestingly, she keeps her human hair.
Eventually, though, Taweret came to be seen as possessing a different kind of fierceness. The later incarnations of this goddess focus more on her motherly ferociousness, the kind that comes from any mother protecting her young. In time, Egyptian myths even depicted Taweret as a nurturing force, as a kind of nurse who warded off evil spirits determined to harm mothers.
Moon Knight episode four manages to capture this duality of the goddess. Though Taweret’s MCU appearance initially seems fearsome, scaring both Marc Spector and Steven Grant, her high-pitched, even somewhat timid, “Hi!” belies that initial impression. Like her ancient Egyptian counterpart, Moon Knight‘s Taweret is more of a helper than an enemy.
Interestingly, according to the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, the ancient Egyptian hippo goddess was linked to the afterlife. “Taweret guarded the paths to the mountains of the west which led to the underworld and could also use magic to help the deceased pass safely through that dangerous and frightening land.” And indeed, Taweret’s presence in the Marvel show was used to introduce a new realm in Marvel’s multiverse, the Duat, or realm of the dead where souls go for judgment before getting destroyed or passing onto the Field of Reeds, or afterlife.
Getting Taweret into the MCU
Head Writer/Executive Producer Jeremy Slater shared a bit more about how we arrived at the Moon Knight‘s vision of the MCU Taweret.
Right from the very first week, Marvel provided us with a ton of reference material on Egyptology, and on ancient Egyptian gods and deities. One of those pieces of material was a laminated poster that had like a little kid, cartoon drawings of all the different gods — one of those gods was Taweret. I spent that entire first week of our writers’ room, just staring at that. Then finally, at some point, I couldn’t take any more. I interrupted whatever we were talking about and I was like, ‘Guys, we have something much more important, which is, how do I get this hippo into the show?’”
I was like, no, stop laughing. I’m very serious. We’re putting her in the show. I think that was the first moment everyone realized, oh, we have permission to get weird, here. We have permission to do some things you wouldn’t necessarily get to do if you weren’t working at a place like Marvel Studios… This gave me my weird swing. And most importantly, it got my favorite hippo into the show.
We do love a hippo goddess and we love that Moon Knight gets a little weird. We also can’t help but recall the hippopotamus plush one we saw in episode one of Moon Knight. The clues to the MCU’s Taweret were there the whole time. In Moon Knight, Taweret is played by Antonia Salib.
What Does Taweret’s Presence Mean For Moon Knight and the MCU?
Now that Tawaeret has made her grand appearance, in all her hippopotamus glory, what does that mean for Marvel’s universe and for Moon Knight? Well, as episode five of Moon Knight reveals, after Arthur Harrow shot Marc Spector, Marc falls through water and finds himself in the Duat. Harrow successfully killed Marc Spector and Steven Grant in the mix. And now their hearts must face judgment. Taweret, a guardian of the realm, sees them through their journey to the afterlife.
Given the prominent role the afterlife plays in ancient Egyptian mythology, its presence in the MCU makes a ton of sense to us. Although, as the episode notes, Taweret is rather rusty at the afterlife-related aspects of her hippo goddess responsibilities. This makes sense because she’s not really one of the main deities associated with the ancient Egyptian lore surrounding death. Other gods such as Anubis and Osiris play much bigger parts.
But now we know that the MCU’s Taweret has a much larger role to play in Moon Knight and it involves Layla El-Faouly. To prevent the destructive goddess Ammit from consuming the world, Layla agrees to become the goddess Taweret’s avatar on earth. This transforms Layla into the Scarlet Scarab, a new MCU hero.
Layla tells Taweret that she intends to stop being her avatar as soon as they save the world. But we suspect that may not actually happen. We feel like this is only the beginning of the MCU story between Layla and Taweret. Will the goddess and her avatar have to face the god Khonshu, in time? It’s too soon to say. But we hope to get more of them all sooner rather than later.
Moon Knight’s introduction of Taweret into Marvel’s world has officially brought us both a new space in the multiverse and an awesome new character. Three cheers for our favorite MCU hippo goddess!
Originally published on April 20, 2022.