HEAT VISION

'Moon Knight,' Oscar Isaac and an Expanding Marvel Universe

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Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagi; Greg Smallwood/Marvel Entertainment
The actor and his character, set for Disney+, open yet another door to a much larger and stranger world.

Praise Khonshu! Marvel Studios has found its Moon Knight. Oscar Isaac will be donning the white, and sifting through the dissociative identity disorder of Marc Spector aka Moon Knight in the upcoming Disney+ series.

Since the announcement of the Moon Knight series at D23 in 2019, fans have speculated who would take on the cult character who evolved from Marvel’s Batman riff into a hero entirely unlike any other. With rumors pointing towards Marvel casting an unknown or an actor relatively new to the scene, the addition of a major star like Oscar Isaac, who already has X-Men, Into the Spider-Verse, Dune, and Star Wars in his franchise utility belt, comes as a welcome surprise.

Last year, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige said Moon Knight will have a larger role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe beyond the series, which suggest that Moon Knight will have a significant role in the MCU going forward. This makes Isaac a reason for those unfamiliar with the character to get excited.

Moon Knight, created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin, first appeared in Werewolf by Night No. 32 in 1975. A former heavyweight boxer turned mercenary, Spector was betrayed by his partner, Raoul Bushman on a job in Egypt. Left for dead at an archaeological dig site, Spector is resurrected by the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu, to become its avatar on Earth. As a vigilante, Spector set up several false identities as cover, including millionaire Steven Grant and taxi driver Jake Lockley. Eventually, it became apparent that these other guises weren’t just roles Spector was playing at, but actual identities with their own personalities and desires just as real as Spector’s.

During Warren Ellis’ run 2014, even the superhero identity of Moon Knight became two identities. Moon Knight served as Spector’s occult hero identity, dealing with supernatural threats, much in the way he did originally in his Werewolf by Night appearances. While Mr. Knight, clad in a white business suit, dealt with the street-level criminal presence, working alongside cops and detectives.

Given Moon Knight’s various identities, it’s easy to understand why any actor would be attracted to the role. And Isaac is notable for his ability to disappear into characters, so much so that his early career appearances as villains in Robin Hood (2010) and Sucker Punch (2011) still come as a surprise to viewers. Audiences have seen him take on the role of hero in Star Wars, mercenary in Triple Frontier (2019), morally compromised genius in Ex Machina (2014), and depressed artist in Inside Llewyn Davis (2013). With Moon Knight, he has an opportunity to tap into all of the various archetypes viewers have seen him as in order to create someone entirely new. Isaac has a gift of being one of the few recognizable actors who can become almost entirely unrecognizable, which will certainly serve Moon Knight and his multiple personas well.

There’s no doubt that Isaac’s inclusion in the MCU will be an additive presence performance-wise and it’s already easy to imagine Moon Knight testing Nick Fury’s patience (Samuel L. Jackson), or trading barbs with Spider-Man (Tom Holland). But Isaac’s impending casting is also significant as he marks the MCU’s first prominent Latinx hero, and major Latinx casting alongside Eternals’ Ajax (Salma Hayek), though not including the Marvel Television productions which included Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) and Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) in Agents of SHIELD. As Marvel Studios further makes good on their promise of increased inclusivity going forward, the Latinx representation that Oscar Isaac brings to the table is definitely a welcome addition.

While in the comics, Moon Knight is a Caucasian Jewish man, a Latino Moon Knight could make for an equally interesting examination of faith, should the character be Catholic instead of Jewish, when Spector is confronted with the existence of Egyptian gods. And more simply, it’s important that fans of these stories, all fans, are able to see themselves represented on screen.

As for those Egyptian gods, it’s possible that Khonshu might even get a mention in the history spanning Eternals, set for release next year. But more interesting than whether Moon Knight and his mythos will be set up ahead of the debut of the Disney+ series are the theories of what his series will lead to. If Moon Knight retains his role in the supernatural realm as he does in the comics, facing off against werewolves and vampires, then the Disney+ series could also deliver the first appearance of the MCU’s Blade. Imagining Oscar Isaac and Mahershala Ali teaming up to fight vampires sounds almost too good to be true, but there’s a very real possibility of that happening somewhere down the line. And with Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch set to expand the prominence of magic and the occult in the MCU, Moon Knight could eventually find himself as part of the MCU’s very own iteration of the supernatural team, Midnight Sons.Oscar Isaac joining the MCU raises the already high expectations for Marvel Studios’ Disney+ series, reconfirming the notion that they will be just as important as the film entries.

Moon Knight has already taken off in recent years among comics fans, and now it’s time for everyone else to get on board, because there’s a very real chance that the character becomes one of the MCU’s most popular characters in the coming years, both because of the representation he’ll provide and because of he opens yet another door to a much larger and stranger universe that could ultimately make Avengers: Endgame feel small in comparison.

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