Marvel’s Moon Knight may have been replaced by Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as the talk of the pop culture town this week, but the power of its first season has not lessened since its finale. Between introducing a protagonist with Dissociative Identity Disorder, offering up the first Egyptian superhero in the MCU, and allowing star Oscar Isaac has to portray not one but three characters – the series juggled plenty and with great success.
It’s not just the strides towards diversity and comic lore coming to life that makes Moon Knight such a triumph, either. The creative team behind the scenes worked tirelessly and with immense attention to detail in order to ensure that the hints came together in the correct order to tease future events for the audience, while also avoiding a reliance on larger MCU hype to get their story across.
Screen Rant had the honor of speaking to Mohamed Diab, who directed four of Moon Knight season 1’s 6 episodes, about some of the most important moments in the finale and hopes for the future of the franchise. While a second season has yet to be directly confirmed, Diab has plenty of thoughts on which direction Steven, Marc and Jake could take.
Screen Rant: It was so amazing to see Layla transform into Scarlet Scarab. How important was it to let her have her own identity as an Egyptian superhero, which we have not yet seen in the MCU?
Mohamed Diab: First of all, I have to give it to the writers, who came up with the idea of making her Egyptian. As Egyptians, we came and fleshed it out more, and May definitely was the character’s best ally. But you don’t know how that moment affected Egyptians. Egyptians call it the Egyptian Black Panther. You have to know that [some] people are culturally defeated; they always see the West as such a high place, and they see themselves so low that it’s very hard for them to imagine being a superhero.
Through the show, when there was some Egyptian music playing, when the composer and the director is Egyptian, when they’re seeing Cairo not just reduced to desert – Egyptians treat the show as if it’s a national pride.
I want to tell you a small story about my daughter. When she was five, she told me she wanted to straighten her beautiful curly hair. Why? Because she always sees that every Disney Princess has straight hair. Today, giving people that example of a hero that looks like them, I’m seeing messages not just from the Middle East or from Egypt – but even from South Asia. Everyone who’s brown feels like, “Okay, you know what? I can relate to this. I feel it, and I love it.”
I’m so proud of that. I’m so proud to be part of that, and I can’t thank Marvel and the writers and everyone involved enough for the character and for the whole show.
I’m very happy to hear that it’s affecting people, because it’s such a powerful moment. Affecting people in a different way is the reveal of Jake Lockley in the episode 6 tag. What was the negotiation like of when and how he’s going to appear, how much of him you can use, and how you’d tease him before that moment?
Mohamed Diab: Everything in the show is a collaborative work. I think Jeremy came up with this idea that let’s focus on the two of them, Mark and Steven, because they need time. And when we tried at some point to put Jake in the story, it felt like we’re not giving him what he deserves. He deserves a whole fleshed out story.
To me, the end of our story could be the beginning of his story. If one day, they’re going to extend that world. Hopefully. I don’t know anything about that, I swear.
If they did expand the world, would you want to be a part of Jake’s story?
Mohamed Diab: I would kill for it. I would love to do it. It’s the most fun I had on a job. Sarah, my wife and a producer on the show, and I helped create that world; we feel at home. And all those people that work with us feel like they’re family.
There’s so many options. There’s crazy things and so many inspiring stories in the comic books that we want to play with, and I can’t wait – if one day I’m allowed – to partner him with other superheroes and see how he drives them crazy.
We really get to see Ammit in all her glory. I know that it takes a village to craft a god, but we specifically have two actresses for Ammi. How do you work with Sofia Danu and Saba Mubarak to bring two halves into one whole?
Mohamed Diab: This happened on two occasions. One of them is Khonshu with Karim El Hakim and F. Murray Abraham, and [the other is] Sofia and Saba [with Ammit].
Sofia and Kareem embodied everything. They are the character that you see on screen; every movement and everything that they’ve done, without them the show wouldn’t have been the same.
Murray Abraham, the moment he spoke, Khonshu was born. Khonshu was never the same before him. And I don’t want to take credit, it was Oscar’s idea. He’s the one who suggested that beautiful voice.
Saba is an actress that I worked with before, in my latest film, Amira. I love everything that she’s been doing. She auditioned, she got the role; she’s fantastic. The thing that really makes your day as a director is working with great actresses and actors, and that’s what happened in the show.
There was a lot of discussion about Marc’s ethnoreligious identity and how it was portrayed. How did you approach handling other cultures respectfully within the context of the story?
Mohamed Diab: Marvel is very respectful to every culture. We have a team of Muslim scholars, Jewish rabbis, Egyptologist. In every aspect, it’s not just our decision, and we try to hear from everyone. For me, as someone who is Muslim, I was dealing with the utmost respect, trying to listen more than even interpret things.
To us, Marc is a Jewish character. Making sure that people fall in love with Marc and understand his journey was the priority. Everyone is calling episode 5 the most emotional episode in the history of Marvel, so in our minds, we were doing Marc, his character and his religion a service – and everything that he represents.
In episode 2, Harrow was speaking Mandarin, and Simu Liu commented that this is not accurate. I wasn’t upset. I actually told him, “Thank you for pointing that out.” We had an expert, and we tried to do our best. But you know what? Next time, we’re going to do better. There’s still room if one day we’re expanding this, and I think we’re all ears.
You won’t meet anyone who believes in representation and that everyone’s voice should be heard more than me. Definitely, when we have round 2 – if I’m allowed, and if there is round 2 – we’re gonna hear every comment and try to make everyone even more pleased.
We’ve got one pantheon of gods in Moon Knight, and we have another in Thor: Love and Thunder. With Gorr the God Butcher coming, how do you think that Moon Knight’s gods would fare against him?
Mohamed Diab: Two of them are dead, actually, because of him. [Laughs] No, I’m joking.
I honestly didn’t see him. I don’t know how he is in Thor; how big and strong. But it’s such an interesting concept. And I want to tell you: it was discussed, but we decided to put it aside right now.
Moon Knight follows Steven Grant, a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, who becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life. Steven discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector.
- Ethan Hawke
- May Calamawy
- Mohamed Diab
- Grant Curtis
- Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson
- Composer Hesham Nazih
Moon Knight season 1 is currently available to stream on Disney+.