Mental health is a topic that doesn’t show itself when it comes to the Marvel franchise as very few movies or shows touch upon the topic. Most of them touch upon other important topics like racism (Falcon and The Winter Soldier) and sexism (Black Widow), but now a show has come along that has broken that barrier. A show that has steadily become a fan favorite, with people calling it “the best Disney+ Show from Marvel,” That show is “Moon Knight.”
Although the show has risen to stardom on the platform, not a lot of people knew about Moon Knight prior to its release. Even the main actor himself, Oscar Isaac Estrada admitted he didn’t know the character in an interview with Toronot Sun. So then, what/who is Moon Knight?
Moon Knight is a Marvel Comics character created in 1975 in the comic “Werewolf by Night” (Issue #32). Don Perlin and Doug Moench created the Egyptian god-battling superhero. But, at the core of the character, is Marc Spector, the man behind the mask. Marc Spector is a person that thanks to several traumatic situations, has more than one personality within himself. Marc becomes a CIA agent for some time in his life and a mercenary who wanders around in Egypt completing missions. During one of these missions, Marc almost dies. But as he’s fading out of consciousness, an entity named Khonshu, the Heliopolis god of the moon, and vengeance approaches him with a deal to revive him if he becomes his avatar. Basically asking Marc to become a vessel he can channel his power through to give out judgment to the guilty and protect innocent humans. Marc accepts this offer although he seems forced to, thanks to the power of Khonshu, Marc’s mind breaks apart even more.
After receiving the power of the god of the moon, Marc creates two main personalities. The first is Steven Grant, a businessman who mixed Marc’s mercenary earnings with some investments and turned himself into a billionaire playboy. But in the Disney+ version, he’s depicted as a museum gift shop employee with an interest in Egyptology.
The second personality is Jake Lockey, who is looked at as the “lowly” one. Jake is a taxicab driver in the comics, but in the show, Lockley is depicted as a ruthless killer. Jake is also the personality that seems to be the one that brings the connections to the underground crime scene to the vigilante thanks to him being a taxi driver in the lowest most dangerous neighborhoods. So, what makes this show good? This character is amazingly depicted as someone who is broken by a life he didn’t want to abide by. Marc Spector and his Steven Grant persona are depicted as people who don’t know about each other’s existence and are in a constant state of shifting back and forth taking turns controlling the body. The show is mainly seen through Steven Grant’s eyes as he thinks he is just one whole person and the episodes when he’s not in control just feel like him “lacking sleep.” Steven is confused about the things that happen in his life because of him not being aware of the existence of Marc Spector. But this relationship works once they find out about each other. It’s kind of a weird “brotherly” relationship between two personalities within the same body.
The third personality, Jake Lockley, is not really shown throughout the show that much but I hope he will make a return to the show in the second season. A fun fact about this character is that he is the first Jewish Superhero in the Marvel Cinematographic Universe. But all of this heroic and fantastic setup is to talk about someone’s internal conflict and struggles to find their true self. The main issue for the show is mental health issues, someone who is broken thanks to a power given to him by force. But, more specifically, the main issue is Dissociative Identity Disorder. Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID, is when an individual has two or more distinct personalities or identities. It was previously known as multiple personality disorder. A person with DID has a “main personality,” which may be passive, dependent, and depressed, as said by Medical News Today.
During the show, this issue is depicted as the two main personalities trying to work their way around accepting each other as part of one whole person. Not necessarily them being the same, more so accepting each other’s companies as they believe they can’t be “fixed.” That makes the back-and-forths, conversations, and arguments of these two all the more meaningful and hilarious throughout the show.
Also one of the most surprising elements of the show is the introduction of the Scarlet Scarab, the wife of Marc Spector, Layla El-Fouly. This character is the first Egyptian superhero in Marvel. She seems to be the love interest of both Marc and Steven, creating some sort of funny fights between the two versions of Moon Knight.
This show also represents the two personalities sides of being Moon Knight well, as Marc Spector takes on the more centered version of Moon Knight when he’s in control of the body, he has the memorial battle suit of Khonshu. But when Steven Grant is in control and using the powers of the moon, he has his own unique suit and set of abilities. In this state, Steven Grant is called Mr. Knight as he’s wearing an all-white suit with a white mask that has a moon on the forehead area. This apparent but attractive detail represents the tragedy of the mind of Marc Spector.
Another great depiction of the main issue of the show is the interaction of the third persona at the end of the show. This sparked great ideas and set the show up for a very demanding second season. Jake Lockley seems to be not on par with Marc or Steven creating a very literal inner conflict.
Although Moon Knight is one of the first few characters or shows focused around DID, there have been a lot of others that have related problems. Characters like Hulk, Norman Osborn, The Scarlet Spider, The Sentry, and several others have similar situations where they have powers that break their minds apart. But there’s something different about Moon Knight, he’s the first one that is specifically focused on how the powers are based on how broken someone is and how easy it is to take care of someone who is not able to see the value within themselves as they can’t find peace with who they are. Moon Knight’s whole stigma is finding peace with who he is as he accepts the responsibilities given to him as he realizes he’s being used by the god he serves. Marc is self-aware of the fact that he’s being used and he recognizes he’s not strong enough to fight this because of the amount of stuff that’s happening within his own personal issues. Moon Knight is a sad but realistic way of looking at the reality of a hero’s issues.
On that same note, I think these types of issues should be highlighted more in stories revolving around superheroes. Not everyone seems to understand that most heroes are created thanks to tragedies that have affected them. Examples of this are Spider-Man, Hulk, Batman, Superman, Captain America, and Iron Man. Heroes seem to have a trigger that affects the person, shaping them into a hero. Although in some cases this is not something that is really touched upon within the character as a whole. I feel like shows should try and focus a bit more on not only the hero aspect but also on the person behind the mask. This can be a way to make heroes feel more relatable and enjoyable thanks to creating a connection with these people and what they go through. Just like Moon Knight does with the characters within the show.
Although the show is fairly new and the character just caught the attention of many fans, Moon Knight is compelling and exciting. This show has everything from emotional scenes, to amazing fighting, and a great story following a man who’s been through a lot of emotional and physical hardships and is trying to find himself outside of his superhero persona. Moon Knight could be considered the best Marvel show on the topic of mental health awareness.