Your Ultimate Moon Knight Primer

Here’s what you need to know about Marvel’s latest antihero.

by Kadin Burnett
Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight in Marvel Studios' Moon Knight.
Marvel Studios

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is expanding once again. On March 30, Disney+ will premiere its latest Marvel series Moon Knight, introducing audiences to one of the franchise’s most mythic and brutal superheroes. Played by Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Dune), the titular character is a former marine, CIA operative, and boxer turned vigilante with dissociative identity disorder (DID) who “may or may not be infused with powers from Khonshu the Moon God.” Because the show marks Moon Knight’s first onscreen appearance — and because that description is frankly a lot to unpack — you might be in search of a primer on the character’s powers and backstory in the comics. Here’s what you need to know.

Moon Knight’s Real Name & Personalities

Moon Knight was born as Marc Spector in Chicago, where he grew up with his younger brother Randall and father Elias — a rabbi who had escaped Nazi persecution. Marc couldn’t understand why his father didn’t fight back against oppression, and often found himself in violent altercations on behalf of his family. In his late adolescence, he discovered that a close family friend had been posing as a rabbi but was in fact a Nazi. Marc confronted him, but the face-off that ensued was so traumatic that Marc developed DID. Thus, his first alter egos were born: Steven Grant and Jake Lockley.

Shortly afterward, Marc was visited by a vision of the Egyptian deity Khonshu, who claimed to be Marc’s ancestor. Marc went on to spend several years in a psychiatric hospital, but was granted temporary leave to attend his father’s funeral. While away from the facility, he had another startling vision of Khonshu and fled.

Marc later enlisted in the marines, but he was dishonorably discharged after his superiors noticed him acting bizarrely and his past came to light. He then joined the CIA for some time before becoming a mercenary for hire with the help of his pal “Frenchie” Duchamp. The duo became close associates with Raul Bushman, a mercenary working in Cairo, and attempted to raid an archeological site on the Egyptian border near Sudan together. Once inside the tomb, an altercation between Marc and Bushman left Marc inches from death, but he managed to make it to a nearby tomb where he found an idol depicting Khonshu. Marc’s spirit then had an encounter with Khonshu, during which Marc promised a life of servitude to Khonshu in exchange for revival. Upon returning to consciousness, Marc considered his spiritual encounter to be a hallucination.

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

However, Marc soon realized that it was, in fact, reality. He then moved to New York with Frenchie and his love interest Marlene, where he made a fortune from gambling and used it to finance his life of crimefighting as Moon Knight. Marc also began using his alter ego of Steven Grant as a financier for his vigilantism, and would drive a cab as Jake Lockley to get intel on street crime. The multiple personas took a toll on Marc’s mental well-being, and he also developed an offshoot persona known as Mr. Knight, who ditches Moon Knight’s usual white cape and cowl for a tailored white vest, button up, and stitched mask.

Some iterations of the character have muddied Marc’s relationship to Khonshu. A few comic storylines assert that Khonshu is an unequivocally real deity who uses Moon Knight as an agent to do his bidding, while others leave it more ambiguous as to whether Marc’s actions as Moon Knight are actually just a result of his psychosis. Some comic interpretations have also called into question whether or not Marc has always been dissociative, or if Khonshu imposed those conditions on him.

Marvel Studios

What Are Moon Knight’s Powers?

Moon Knight is a vicious fighter willing to maim and even kill his enemies. For instance, he’s known for carving crescent moons into the foreheads of his adversaries, and after the encounter in Egypt, he ripped Bushman’s entire face off. As for his powers, Moon Knight has enhanced speed, agility, and strength. He can’t fly, but his long white cape works like a glider that allows him to leap and land with ease. When not using his fists, Moon Knight employs the use of crescent throwing blades that he keeps around his waist. He also has prophetic visions. However, all of Moon Knight’s powers are either enhanced or lessened depending on the phase of the moon.

Moon Knight In The Show vs. The Comics

The trailer for Moon Knight introduces Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant, who’s working for a museum in London. Steven explains that he’s not sleeping well and can’t tell the difference between his dreams and his waking moments. He’s also shown tied to his own bed post, as if he’s trying to keep himself from leaving his bed in the middle of the night.

The museum Steven works at is hosting an exhibit on ancient Egypt, and he appears to be haunted by visions of a bandaged monster chasing him through the halls. There’s another sequence in which Steven finds a cell phone and answers a phone call, only to learn that his real name may be Marc. The trailer also includes a chase sequence that may be the Egyptian raid that led to Mark’s meeting with Khonshu, and we briefly see Moon Knight in action as well. We learn that his suit appears on his body through magic: bandages materialize all over his body and face, forming a cape and cowl.

It’s unclear exactly how faithful the show will be to the comics, but from the looks of things, it’ll hit pretty close.

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