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[The following story contains spoilers for Moon Knight.]
Moon Knight director Mohamed Diab is beyond proud of what he’s created, especially for his native Egypt.
In one of the most satisfying scenes from Wednesday’s season (series?) finale, May Calamawy’s Layla El-Faouly temporarily agreed to become Taweret’s avatar, turning her into the MCU’s first Egyptian superhero. That transformation eventually led to an inspiring moment on the battlefield between Layla and a young Egyptian girl who couldn’t believe what she was seeing. This exchange was also very personal to Diab and his family.
“My daughter, when she was five, wanted to straighten her curly hair because she never felt like she saw herself in any of the Disney movies and cartoons. So to see this woman — who looks like an everyday Egyptian, with beautiful curly hair — become a superhero is something huge. [Egyptian] people treat Moon Knight as if it’s our Black Panther. You don’t know how big it is,” Diab tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Diab also opens up about his favorite Oscar Isaac scene that was cut from the finale. “As great as everything else was, [Oscar] actually topped it with something even better. He confronted his mom in a white void, and he was going back and forth between Marc and Steven. And oh, my god. That scene by itself is an Oscar-worthy performance. Hopefully, Marvel releases that scene one day because Oscar was a genius,” Diab shares.
In that recent conversation with THR, Diab also discussed the Jake Lockley reveal in the mid-credit scene, as well as where he’d want the story to go next.
For those who are still wondering how much of Moon Knight was real versus imagined, what can you tell them?
I can tell them that I don’t have the answer. We were trying to mimic what people who have DID [Dissociative Identity Disorder] might feel. So people are going to have so many theories about this because we had three worlds: the normal world, the afterlife and the psychiatric wards. And honestly, the truth is very complicated, and I think it’s a loop. For example, Marc’s younger brother drew the fish, so if he did that, how the hell would Steven have a fish with one fin? It just makes you think about who started what. So I like that, and I think it’s something that everyone should think about. Everyone should form their own opinion, and one day, if there’s an expansion of this story, we’re going to delve into that and keep the discussion going.
So you’ve been teasing Marc’s third alter, Jake Lockley, all season, and you finally revealed him in the mid-credit scene. What went into that decision?
Trial and error. We wanted to introduce Jake before that, and we even tried in one draft. But he wasn’t fleshed out enough. So it wasn’t fair for Jake, and we also just wanted to focus on Marc and Steven, which was [head writer] Jeremy’s [Slater] idea from the beginning. That’s why we kept pushing and pulling until we found the beginning of Jake’s story, and it just felt like the end of this [season] was the right place for it. So it’s open, and one day, if we get a chance to expand this world, we can create Jake’s own world.
Layla became a superhero in the end, which was quite thrilling to see. How much does her evolution mean to you?
I want to thank the writers for coming up with the idea that Layla is Egyptian. When me and Sarah [Goher] — who’s a [consulting] producer on the show and my wife — came to the show, we definitely helped shape her. And then when May [Calamawy] came along, she became her best ally and all of us together chipped in to make her the character all that she is. And the moment that she becomes a superhero, you don’t know what that means to Egypt. My daughter, when she was five, wanted to straighten her curly hair because she never felt like she saw herself in any of the Disney movies and cartoons. So to see this woman — who looks like an everyday Egyptian, with beautiful curly hair — become a superhero is something huge. In a way, a lot of people from third-world countries feel culturally defeated, and we feel like the West is superior in a way. But now, Egyptians were behind the camera and in front of the camera, making one of Disney’s best shows, so this show is a national pride. People treat Moon Knight as if it’s our Black Panther. You don’t know how big it is.
Thank you for saving Steven in the finale. Was there ever a version of this show where he didn’t return?
(Laughs.) Never. The journey is about Marc and Steven learning to live together, so you can’t cut one of them. And by the way, this is something that we learned from understanding what DID is through the experts that we had on hand. People with DID learn to live with their identities, not cancel one or more of their identities out.
Since all three personalities have different accents, who asked out the museum co-worker in the premiere?
That’s an answer for a different time because it could be Jake and it could be Marc. You never know, but I think it’s for the audience to decide. There are clues everywhere. But that’s up for discussion, and maybe one day we could answer that. However, if I’m brought back one day to expand this world, I want to see the world through Jake’s eyes for a while.
Do you think Oscar and May will play these characters again?
100 percent because I know how much they enjoyed it. They loved it. I talked to Oscar today, and he told us all on Zoom that Moon Knight is the thing that he’s most proud of in his life. So I’d think he would want to come back.
If you could walk into Kevin Feige’s office right now and green light another Marvel project for yourself, what would you choose?
Moon Knight, the film.
Prior to the first episode’s release, we talked about how much we loved Steven’s steak-ordering scene, but it sounded like there was a scene from the last two episodes that held you back from calling it your favorite. So what scene from the last two episodes rivals the steak scene for you?
Well, the emotional stakes increase in episode five. So if we’re talking about the amount of emotional intensity, everything in episode five is more intense. By the way, there was a longer version of that steak scene, which was fantastic, too. So my favorites would be the steak scene and the scene after the sitting shiva when Marc cries on the ground. And then Marc and Steven are out there talking about it. Oscar did a fantastic job feeling sad through three different people, and it was such a great, emotional scene. I just love what Oscar did there.
Episode five is a special episode, to say the least. Was your jaw on the floor as you watched Oscar from behind the monitor?
I think he would say that I was just encouraging him, but I always tell him, “You’re going to win everything,” because he is always great. He’s a genius actor. The irony is that my favorite scene of his got cut. It was in episode six. As great as everything else was, he actually topped it with something even better. He confronted his mom in a white void, and he was going back and forth between Marc and Steven. And oh my god. That scene by itself is an Oscar-worthy performance. Hopefully, Marvel releases that scene one day because Oscar was a genius.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
Moon Knight is now available on Disney+.
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