Who Is Marvel’s MOON KNIGHT? From His Comic Origins to the MCU

Moon Knight is about to become the latest breakout MCU star, thanks to his upcoming Disney+ series starring Oscar Isaac. But the white-cloaked hero has a long history at Marvel Comics, going back to the seventies. Created by writer Doug Moench and artist Don Perlin, he first appeared as an antagonist for the titular character in Werewolf by Night, in 1975’s issue #32. He fought against the lupine antihero for two issues. But that was just the beginning for this hero based in Egyptian mythology. Over the last nearly five decades, Moon Knight has made many appearances in the comics, and his powers, abilities, and personalities have evolved throughout. With so much Moon Knight comic backstory to mine, this hero’s MCU future is looking bright. Let’s take a closer look at who exactly Moon Knight is and what we can learn from his origins and history.

Moon Knight, standing under a full moon ready to do battle.
Marvel Comics
Moon Knight’s Marvel Comic Origins and Early Appearances

As mentioned, Moon Knight was first created in 1975 for Marvel Comics’ Werewolf by Night, where he appeared in two issues. Sales must have been pretty good on those early appearances because Marvel brought Moon Knight back for a solo try-out in Marvel Spotlight, followed by guest appearances in Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Two-In-One, and Defenders. He then got a backup feature in the Hulk’s large-format magazine. Finally, Moon Knight was ready for his true point of origin. He received his first solo ongoing Moon Knight series in 1980, and he’s had on and off solo comics ever since, remaining a fixture of the Marvel Universe.

Who Is Moon Knight? Marc Spector’s Soldier-For-Hire Beginnings

Although often described as “Marvel’s Batman,” Moon Knight differs from the Dark Knight as much as he is like him. Moon Knight’s real name and identity are that of Marc Spector. A Chicago native, Spector trained most of his life to be a heavyweight boxer. But eventually, he becomes a marine, and ultimately, a soldier-for-hire. In his mercenary career, he befriends a French pilot named Jean-Paul Duchamp, who he gives the cringe nickname of “Frenchie.” (Once Marc became Moon Knight, Frenchie became his equivalent of Batman’s Alfred).

Moon Knight's origins - his first solo series Marvel comics cover
Marvel Comics

Spector takes a job in Africa working for mercenary Raoul Bushman, Moon Knight’s soon-to-be nemesis, as a hired gun. While in Egypt, the two come across Dr. Peter Alruane and his daughter Marlene, who just discovered an ancient temple in an archeological dig in the desert. When Bushman hears the temple has a treasure trove of gold, he kills Dr. Alruane. Disgusted by Bushman’s murder of an innocent, Spector fights him. But Bushman defeats him and leaves him to die in the cold desert night. And it’s here that things got a little spooky.

Marc Spector’s Desert Resurrection

As he lay dying in the Egyptian sands, the acolytes of the ancient Egyptian moon deity Khonshu took Marc Spector in. They spirited him away to Khonshu’s temple, where Spector’s heart stops. While dead, he meets with the spirit of Khonshu, who grants him his life again, as long as Spector becomes his champion on Earth. He agrees to the terms and returns to life. Spector then covers himself with the white shroud from the temple, his first-ever white costume, and becomes the Moon Knight. Eventually, he takes his vengeance on Bushman and embarks on a heroic career.

The Egyptian God Khonshu resurrects Marc Spector to become his avatar on Earth.
Moon Knight

Using the small fortune he had amassed as a mercenary, Spector sets up shop in New York City. This becomes his home base as the Moon Knight. At this point, Moon Knight creates two new personas to infiltrate the different worlds inhabiting the city. All in order to more efficiently fight crime. Moon Knight’s first personality is millionaire playboy Steven Grant. He uses this wealthy identity to infiltrate the elite criminals of New York. He also creates the personality of Jake Lockley, a cab driver whose ear is a bit closer to the ground. Both of these identities would serve Marc Spector well.

The Many Personalities of Marc Spector: Moon Knight’s Condition
The many personalities of Marvel's Moon Knight.
Marvel Comics

Over the years, Marvel revealed that those other Moon Knight personalities weren’t really fake personas that Marc Spector was just pretending to be. Instead, they were all separate identities that resulted from his dissociative disorder, a condition Spector had since childhood. Supposedly, each of Marc Spector’s four personalities ties into an aspect of Khonshu and its multi-faceted nature.

Moon Knight’s Four Main Personalities

These four main aspects of Moon Knight’s personalities are “the traveler,” “the pathfinder,” “the embracer,” and “the defender of those who travel at night.” However, over the years, Spector has developed other personalities as well. This calls into question whether or not his personalities have anything at all to do with a supernatural entity and becoming Moon Knight… Or if it’s something totally separate. Perhaps Moon Knight’s turn in the MCU will more clearly establish the origins of his four+ personalities and how they tie (or don’t tie) to the Egyptian god.

Does Moon Knight Have Powers or Not?
Moon Knight descends into the city below. Art by David Finch.
Marvel Comics

Much like other vigilante-type heroes, Moon Knight has no permanent superpowers to speak, save two (we’ll get to them, they’re biggies). As a former marine, boxer, and mercenary, Spector does have some natural abilities, however. Marc Spector is an expert fighter in multiple disciplines. He is also a weapons expert and a skilled pilot. But Moon Knight’s greatest power is that he seemingly cannot die. The God Khonshu has resurrected him at least three times, so he can continue to serve as his champion. So, although it’s not a specific power Moon Knight can wield at will, we’d count “immortality” as one of his powers. It seems like Moon Knight really cannot die… As long as his patron god wills it, anyway.

Moon Knight also got some abilities that are pretty close to powers from his original resurrection. His return from death altered his brain so that he can reject mental manipulation. This also makes him prone to prophetic visions and dreams. And although Moon Knight can’t fly, his crescent moon cape allows him to glide safely when jumping from great heights. Occasionally though, Moon Knight has received the odd power upgrade. Sometimes he has enhanced strength during nights in which there is a full moon and the power to sap someone’s life energy through physical contact. He even briefly held the Phoenix Force, making him practically a god. But that was very temporary. Essentially, Moon Knight’s most significant powers remain his fighting skills. We’ll have to wait and see if the MCU’s Moon Knight gets to keep any of his comic counterpart’s best abilities on a more permanent basis.

Is Moon Knight a Hero, Villian, or Something Else?
Moon Knight holding a bloody weapon, proving he gets more brutal than most Marvel heroes.
Marvel Comics

Although many comparisons are made to DC’s Batman, Moon Knight is far closer to his own universe’s Punisher. While Batman swears by a no-kill code, Moon Knight has no problem killing his enemies. Given his previous life as a mercenary, he knows just how to deal out lethal force to his does. This is probably why Marvel kept him out of children’s cartoons for so long. So, just how brutal is Moon Knight? He once impaled his arch-enemy Bushman on a machine gun and even carved his face off. Ouch. Less horrifying but still bad, he also leaves a crescent moon branding on the foreheads of his enemies. So yeah, the Fist of Khonshu is pretty hardcore. So whether he’s a hero or villain might be answered like this: he’s an antihero, someone who does horrible things for righteous reasons.

We’ll be curious to see if the MCU maintains Moon Knight’s viciousness. Moon Knight will release on Disney+, after all. And Disney+ just recently announced the addition of parental controls to their platform. Presumably, these new parental controls are to help the Netflix Marvel shows transition to the MCU, but they could also pave the way for shows like Moon Knight to become a little more violent.

Team Player: Marc Spector’s Dealings With the Avengers
Moon Knight joins Earth's Mightiest Heroes in West Coast Avengers #21.
Marvel Comics

Brutal nature or not, Moon Knight earned his spot on the Avengers at several points in his career. He started his Avengers career with the team’s California branch, the West Coast Avengers. Since then, he served brief stints with the main Avengers team and the Secret Avengers, as well as helping on the supernaturally tinged adventures of the Defenders and the Midnight Sons. Ultimately a loner, however, his stints on various teams never last very long, so maybe don’t count on him fully joining the Phase 4 MCU Avengers just yet… Although anything could happen.

Moon Knight manages to control Thor's hammer, Mjolnir.
Marvel Comics

Speaking of the Avengers, Moon Knight is one of the few members of the team besides Captain America, who has proven worthy of lifting Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir. Well, “worthy” might be the wrong term. As it turns out, the substance Thor’s hammer was made out of, the metal called Uru, was made of moon rock. Thus, even a killer like Moon Knight can lift the hammer and toss it around. Much to Thor’s dismay and embarrassment, of course. We don’t know if Thor and Moon Knight will ever get to meet in the MCU, but we feel pretty sure Chris Hemsworth’s version wouldn’t much love Oscar Isaac’s Moon Knight trying his weapon on for size.

Lunar Ladies 
Moon Knight and one of his love interests, the cat-like Avenger named Tigra.
Marvel Comics

Moon Knight’s main squeeze since his first ongoing series in 1980 was Marlene Alruane, the daughter of the archeologist whose death started Marc Spector down the road to becoming the Fist of Khonshu. Marlene became Moon Knights’ ally in those early years and, eventually, his love interest. But her confusion over Moon Knight’s different personalities proved too much for her, and she and Spector parted ways. Other known Moon Knight love interests have included his fellow Avenger Tigra and the adventurer Echo. But Moon Knight’s erratic behavior has made it difficult for anyone to stay with him for too long.

Perhaps May Calamawy will play Marlene Alruane. The Star Wars and Inside Llewyn Davis star has been cast in the MCU’s Moon Knight, but her role remains unknown.

Pre-MCU Moon Knight Media Appearances
One of the few animated appearances of Moon Knight, from season four of Ultimate Spider-Man.
Marvel Comics

Moon Knight’s appearances in other media were scarce until the 21st century. He first showed up in the Ultimate Spider-Man vs. Sinister Six animated show in 2016. The following year, he appeared on the new Spider-Man series on Disney XD, and he also appeared briefly on the Avengers Assemble animated show. For various reasons, perhaps being thought of as too “grown-up” a character for children’s animation, Moon Knight never appeared on any Marvel cartoons of the ’80s and ’90s. For years, the idea of a Moon Knight movie floated about, but nothing ever came of it. But Moon Knight has popped up in several video games over the years.

How Does Moon Knight Fit Into The MCU’s Phase 4?
The title treatment for Disney+swhish, which hy h
Marvel Studios

And we now come to Oscar Isaac’s portrayal of Moon Knight in the upcoming Disney+ series. So far, from a costume standpoint, things look very comics-accurate. However, Isaac’s British accent sounds like a 19th-century chimney sweep, suggesting it could be one of his personalities. But who? Will Moon Knight keep his comics origins in the MCU and the same personas behind the mask? It remains to be seen. But Isaac’s appearance as “Mr. Knight” in the white suit and tie suggest inspiration from the 2014 Moon Knight series.

As Phase 4 of the MCU continues to evolve, we imagine we’ll see Disney+ heroes merging with big-screen protagonists. As mentioned above, the MCU seems to be making moves to incorporate the Netflix Marvel characters into its canon. This leaves space for more historically mature characters like Moon Knight. And since Moon Knight does have a history with different comic teams, he could be the perfect addition, should the MCU choose to introduce or rebuild any of them.

We’ll wait with bated breath until March for more answers and to see Marc Spector get a new origin story as Moon Knight.

Moon Knight debuts on Disney+ on March 30.

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