One of the biggest and most crucial things that Marvel Studios has accomplished by releasing so many movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon is establishing context for the world in which these superheroes and villains exist. We know that Captain America has been a thing in this world for decades, for example, and that shapes everything else about this reality, because that fact has to make sense and be treated as normal.
With that context, the MCU can then spin out and tell atypical superhero stories that aren’t necessarily about a guy with a secret identity who fights crime at night. That brings us to Moon Knight, star of Disney+’s latest MCU off-shoot series (and the first without any overt ties to the movies, as far as we know at this point). Moon Knight, at least in comparison to most other superheroes, is weird. He has a secret identity and a violent superhero identity, but they are just that: distinct personas that he mentally changes into and out of. It’s like how some interpretations of Batman operate on the idea that the Dark Knight is his real personality and Bruce Wayne is a mask. For Moon Knight, they’re all different masks because he genuinely recognizes them as distinct people who are all separate from each other. They just happen to share a head.
And by “all” we mean “all.” The various identities of Moon Knight don’t stop at the superhero guy, Moon Knight, and the regular guy, Marc Spector. He actually has no fewer than five personalities, and depending on what a particular writer wants to do with the character, he sometimes has even more. So, ahead of Moon Knight’s premiere on Disney+ (look for our episode recaps starting on Wednesday, March 30), let’s meet them.
(At this point, it’s worth noting that Moon Knight is generally referred to as having dissociative identity disorder, a very real condition that a violent superhero story may not be the most well-equipped to handle with grace and sensitivity. If Disney wants to suggest that Moon Knight has dissociative identity disorder, that’s fine, but in order to avoid making light of a real-life diagnosis by connecting it to a very unreal fictional character, we will be operating under the assumption that Moon Knight’s personalities have a tangible, albeit supernatural, origin—which is to say that they developed because of his communion with an Egyptian moon god.)
In the comics, before he ever became Moon Knight, Marc Spector was a deadly mercenary and a huge jerk. During a mission in Egypt, one of Spector’s fellow mercenaries kills an archaeologist and tries to loot an ancient tomb. Spector tries to stop him and is killed, dying at the foot of a statue depicting Khonshu, the ancient Egyptian moon god. In what early stories implied might have been a hallucination (but later stories revealed was very much not), Spector is visited by Khonshu before dying and given a chance to be resurrected if he agreed to serve as the god’s avatar on Earth—which means anything from “protecting people who are in danger at night” to “killing vampires” and “anyone who stands in the way of Khonshu’s nebulous goals.”
Moon Knight is essentially Batman. There’s no use trying to pretend otherwise. He has a cape; he fights crime with moon-themed gadgets; and he’s probably more brutal than ever has to be. It’s just that, rather than an angry man fighting for justice, he’s an angry personification of how a moon god defines justice. Sometimes he has vague superpowers, like enhanced strength and speed, but nothing too flashy. It’s more about punching people and cutting them up with crescent-shaped throwing stars.
Mr. Knight is essentially Batman, too… but the chill Batman who meets up with Commissioner Gordon at crime scenes and looks for clues. He is, for all intents and purposes, the “civilian identity” for the character, in the sense that he’s more or less a normal guy. He just happens to wear a stark white suit and a white mask. When someone needs to talk to Moon Knight, Mr. Knight is the personality they would probably interact with.
Jake Lockley is a blue-collar cab driver, the street-level eyes and ears of the Moon Knight operation, the kind of person that nobody would ever notice or care about. Steven Grant, meanwhile, is the Bruce Wayne personality. He’s a rich playboy who funds Moon Knight’s crimefighting work by paying for all of the aforementioned moon-themed gadgets. Like the others, they’re distinct people with distinct personalities, and they all know they’re sharing a body with a brutal vigilante.
Spider-Man is a guy who can climb on walls and has the proportionate strength of a spider. Wolverine is a mutant with a metal skeleton who can pop claws out of his knuckles thanks to his superhuman healing powers. Captain America is a super-soldier created by the U.S. government during World War II, and after being frozen in ice for a few decades, he returned to lead The Avengers and be an all-around good guy. They are all actually different Moon Knight personalities.
Oh wait, no. They’re all actual superheroes who are not Moon Knight, but during Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s run with the character in the comics, those three Avengers manifested as new Moon Knight personalities (though he thought he was talking to the actual people, not the fake ones in his mind). Though not as prevalent as the others, Moon Knight has since, on occasion, checked in with his internal versions of Spidey, Cap, and Logan for advice.
The odds of those three showing up in the Disney+ show are pretty low, but it would be a ton of fun if they did. We’ll know for sure when Moon Knight premieres on March 30.