The name Khonshu doesn’t necessarily ring any bells for the casual viewer of Moon Knight. As far as Egyptian mythology goes, he isn’t an instantly recognizable god. Nor does he necessarily register in terms of Marvel characters—unless you already happen to be a big Moon Knight fan. But after watching the whole of Moon Knight, fans will quickly realize that this looming Egyptian god has a significant role in the show. And in truth, the MCU’s Khonshu has a rich history both as one of the gods of Egyptian mythology and as a god of Marvel’s comics. But who is this eerie figure exactly? Here’s everything you need to know about Moon Knight‘s most important god, Khonshu.
Who Is Moon Knight‘s God, Khonshu?
Khonshu as a God of Egyptian Mythology
In Moon Knight’s first episode, Steven Grant mentions the Ennead of Egyptian mythology. Although in truth, there were several Enneads or groupings of nine gods, the main one was the Great Ennead of Heliopolis. And many of the gods we think of when we think of Egyptian mythology, such as Ra, Osiris, Isis, and Seth, belonged to this Ennead. Khonshu, however, doesn’t appear anywhere on this list. But although Khonshu may not play a significant role in our modern understanding of Egyptian gods, it doesn’t mean he was not important in ancient Egyptian mythology.
In fact, Khonshu is known to be the son of Ra, the king of the gods. That makes him quite powerful position. Unsurprisingly, Khonshu is also the god of time and the moon. And, fittingly for his position as Moon Knight’s patron god, he personifies the crescent moon. In some mythological stories, Khonshu appeared as a benevolent god, a god of growth and fertility. But in other myths, he controlled evil forces that could do great harm to humanity at his bidding. Like the moon, which goes through different phases, it seems, Khonshu was a changeable Egyptian god.
Khonshu as a God in Marvel Comics
In Marvel Comics, Khonshu also plays the role of an Egyptian god. Though we do not yet know Moon Knight’s origin story in the MCU, we do know how he came to exist in Marvel’s comics. Marc Spector, left for dead in the desert of Egypt, is taken to the temple of Khonshu. There the god strikes a bargain with him, offering to bring Marc Spector back to life if the man agrees to become his earthly champion. Marc Spector, of course, agrees to Khonshu’s request, and Marvel’s main Moon Knight is born.
While Khonshu is not a member of the main Ennead in Egyptian mythology, he is a member of Marvel Comic’s version of the grouping of gods. As a god of the Ennead, Khonshu has superhuman strength, durability, healing, and magical powers. In the comics, Khonshu is also Ra’s son. And the two have an epic rivalry. Neither Ra nor Khonshu can enter the earthly realm, so they empower mortal avatars in their stead. Ra’s champions are known as Sun Kings, while Khonshu’s champions are Moon Knights. To date, Khonshu has claimed victory in every skirmish in the comics, but should the story come to the MCU, we have to wonder what will happen.
Comics Khonshu is the god of time as well as Vengeance. Khonshu also remains the god of the moon. In some iterations of the story, Moon Knight’s different personalities are said to tie into Khonshu and four aspects of his complicated nature. These four aspects include: “the traveler,” “the pathfinder,” “the embracer,” and “the defender of those who travel at night.” At least one of these aspects carries over into the MCU’s version of Khonshu. Marvel’s moon god explains he protects the denizens of the night from those who seek to harm them.
MCU’s Moon Knight also borrows the complex relationship between Marc Spector, his various personalities, and Khonshu from the comics. Sometimes peaceful and sometimes at great odds, the god and his champion have an oscillating comics relationship, to say the least. And we definitely see that play out on screen. The MCU’s Marc Spector and Khonshu seem to have a hate-hate relationship in many ways.
Khonshu as the main god in the MCU’s Moon Knight
Moon Knight‘s Khonshu plays a pivotal role in the series. In the MCU, F. Murray Abraham voices Khonshu. And we learn the moon god did indeed empower Marc Spector as his champion on Earth before the show began. Khonshu also carries his appearance from Egyptian mythology into the show. In both the MCU and ancient Egyptian artwork, Khonshu has a bird’s face and decorates himself with the crescent moon. The comics also agree with this appearance.
In Moon Knight, Khonshu is ultimately somewhat of an antagonistic force, although he does help Marc Spector and Steven Grant when it suits him. We learn over the course of Moon Knight‘s episodes that doing Khonshu’s bidding has left Marc with a heavy heart, almost literally. Khonshu does not seem to care much for anyone, or anything, if it means getting his way. Although, he does want to make sure the world doesn’t get destroyed by Ammit.
In his quest to oppose the violent goddess and her followers, led by Arthur Harrow, Khonshu flaunts his powers. This leads Moon Knight‘s other gods of Egyptian mythology to imprison Khonshu. Marc and Steven end up free from his grasp, but this freedom doesn’t last long.
Khonshu’s MCU Future
In Moon Knight‘s finale, however, Marc and Steven’s choice lies between relenting to Khonshu or allowing for the world’s destruction. Thus, Moon Knight is reborn once more and the pair serve as Khonshu’s Avatars. This time, they demand to be released once they have defeated Ammit and imprisoned her in a human form. Khonshu seemingly agrees to this demand.
But in Moon Knight‘s post-credits scene, we learn this agreement was largely a lie. Jake Lockley, a third Marc Spector alter, still serves Khonshu. Whether he serves as Moon Knight exactly, we don’t yet know. But we know Khonshu has an avatar in the human world and the MCU’s moon god seems like he’s ready to do whatever he wants.
Though we see the other gods’ avatars die in Moon Knight‘s last episode, we don’t get any clarification on whether Ammit and Harrow killed the gods themselves. Only Tawaret, who know empowers Layla El-Faouly as her Avatar, remains definitively alive in the MCU. If the other MCU gods have vanished, Khonshu could have free reign to do as he likes. Of course, other Egyptian gods could still appear in the MCU’s world. We wouldn’t want to see an even angrier Ennead, but Khonshu seems untroubled.
Moon Knight‘s and thus Khonshu’s future remains unclear. But with Jake Lockley as a willing and blood-thirsty avatar, the Egyptian god could spell trouble for more than just Marc Spector and Steven Grant.
Originally published on March 31, 2022.