Moon Knight dives into the complicated persona of a superhero

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Grace Zhao

Moon Knight navigates the complicated life of its titular main character

Anaisha Das and Olivia Phongsa

With its first release on March 30, 2022 on Disney+, “Moon Knight” showcases the multifaceted personality of its titular protagonist. The show has released one episode every week until the end of season one on episode six, ending on May 4, 2022. 

“Moon Knight” first puts us in the shoes of Steven Grant, a down-to-earth British man who is struggling with life. He lives alone, is disrespected in his job as a museum gift shop employee and has no friends – instead ranting to a living golden statue (who is forced to listen to Stevens endless rambles). He’s a seemingly normal person, worrying about normal problems such as going on a date or the monotony of his profession. 

However, as more and more of Steven’s life is revealed, suspicions arise in the audience. Who is his mother that he calls every morning, but whose voice is never actually heard? Why does he lock himself up in ankle cuffs whenever he goes to bed, and why does he have trouble sleeping? 

The answer lies in Marc Spector. 

Spector is definitely not a normal guy. He is a mercenary-turned vigilante of Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon, developing the Moon Knight persona as he brutally murdered criminals. Attempting to maintain normalcy, Spector marries Layla El-Faouly, going on many adventures to find Egyptian relics. Unfortunately, their relationship falls apart when Spector abruptly leaves her with unsigned divorce papers. 

“Moon Knight” explores these dual opposite personalities – Spector and Steven Grant – who belong to one body. While never explicitly mentioned in the show, it becomes evident that they have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a mental health condition in which one person has two or more separate personalities. Although DID is used as more of a plot device rather than proper representation of the mental illness, the condition gives Moon Knight shortcomings that allow the viewer to empathize with him. 

“Superhero” has always been a fantastical term that paints a picture of a perfect person with easy solutions. However, more recently, superhero movies and shows have adopted a more realistic perspective in order to form stronger connections with the audience. Often, this results in main characters that defy the superhero stereotype, instead being anti-heros with a dark side. The Joker and Moon Knight are more recent examples of movies and shows that use mental health conditions to humanize the protagonist’s struggles. 

Moon Knight’s morality is ambiguous, as Spector is far from a perfect human being, especially with his relationship with El-Faouly. Spector fails to communicate with her for almost two years, instead dealing with his issues alone. 

In fact, some fans have theorized that Grant embodies all of the qualities that El-Faouly admires on purpose, representing Spector’s guilt. For example, Grant and El-Faouly both love the same poet and enjoy studying Egypt. Grant is a pacifist who hates fighting, while Spector believes that the ends justify his means.

Action movies are often shot with sharp angles and clean cuts in order to highlight the impactfulness of action scenes. Moon Knight utilizes the opposite of this with shaky camera movement, with clean cuts in order to emphasize the franticness Grant often feels after discovering another layer of his darker identity or running away from the madness that surrounds him. 

The show’s central theme is the two personalities coming to terms with each other, realizing that they have to share their body with someone else. Spector and Grant communicate with each other through reflective surfaces, as Grant blacks out more and more frequently. In the beginning, Grant freaks out when he realizes that the other identity is the cold-blooded killer Spector, as it implies that Grant is similarly a killer.

Grant starts mentally fighting his other identity from taking over his body in order to stop Spector and therefore himself from committing crimes by staying awake, but this ultimately prevents Spector from doing his job in killing criminals and thus creating bigger problems. The rest of the show tries to deal with Spector and Grant coming to terms with each other in order to finish Spector’s job as Khonshu avatar. 

The plot of Moon Knight can be hard to follow without any prior knowledge of the comics, leading the viewers to piece together the answers to the questions that follow Grant. Slowly, the ambiguity of Moon Knight’s origin and powers fade as we become more attached to both Grant and Spector. 

Yet the finale of the first season raises even more questions with a cliffhanger, seemingly leaving room for another season or at least the return of Moon Knight. Despite introducing completely new stories and characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Moon Knight” hooks viewers with its captivating portrayal of Spector and Grant.