Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four Re-Watch. Moon Knight, part 1

It’s been a year since I last did a rewatch, ending Phase Three with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Now that the Infinity Saga is over and Thanos has turned to dust, our surviving heroes have moved on… with various degrees of success. Phase Four incorporates both cinematic releases and television programs. For the television programs, I am limiting each article to three episodes each

Title: Moon Knight

Characters created by:Doug Moench and Don Perlin

Episode one: The Goldfish Problem

Director:   Mohamed Diab

Writers:     Jeremy Slater

US Release Date: March 30, 2022

Summary:  British Museum worker Steven Grant occasionally suffers from blackouts. After going to sleep one night, he finds himself waking up in the Austrian Alps, witnessing a cult meeting led by religious zealot Arthur Harrow, who demands a scarab Grant unknowingly had in his possession. He escapes from Harrow and is nearly killed, but is saved by a mysterious voice in his head.

After waking up in his home, noticing several oddities and returning from a misscheduled date, Grant realizes that two days have passed since he went to sleep. He later finds a hidden phone and keycard in his apartment’s flat, and while searching through missed calls from a woman named Layla, she calls. Grant is confused upon her calling him “Marc”.

The next day, Grant is confronted by Harrow at work, who reveals that he is a servant of the Egyptian goddess Ammit. Later that night, Harrow summons a jackal-like monster that attacks Grant at the museum. Just as Grant is cornered by the monster, his reflection in the mirror tells Grant to let him take control. Grant agrees, transforming into a cloaked warrior who kills the monster

Changes from the comics: In the comics, the Spector persona is a millionaire-playboy, but it was felt the version of the character was too close to Batman. Marlene Alraune, Spector’s love interest in the comics, was not included because she was the “prototypical damsel in distress” seen in many older comics. In the comics, Arthur Harrow is a scientist who has trigeminal neuraglia that placed the left part of his lips into a permanent snarl. The MCU version is a composite character of the Sun King and Morning Star.

MCU Connections: The Series avoided Connections to the greater MCU.

Easter Eggs: One of the missed calls from Marc’s cell phone (the 32nd call) is listed as “Duchamp”. In the comics, Jean-Paul DuChamp (also called “Frenchie”) is an ex-French Foreign Legion officer and a mercenary who became a partner and a trusted friend of Marc Spector.

Music: Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih had composed the score for the series by early March 2022 in his first major English language project. The episode featured the songs “Every Grain of Sand” by Bob Dylan, “A Man Without Love” by Engelbert Humperdinck, and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!

Episode two: Summon the Suit

Directors:   Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson

Writers:    Michael Kastelein

US Release Date: April 6, 2022

Summary:  After being fired for damaging the bathroom of the National Gallery, Steven Grant uses the keycard he found in his apartment to access his storage locker containing the scarab. Grant’s “reflection” reveals that he is Marc Spector, another identity living in Grant’s body, an American mercenary, and the current avatar of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu. Spector tries to convince Grant to let him resume control of their body, but Grant refuses and flees.

He is confronted by Layla, Spector’s wife who was unaware of Grant’s existence, before being arrested by police officers working for Arthur Harrow. Harrow reveals that he was Khonshu’s previous avatar until he chose to follow Ammit instead, and that he seeks the scarab to find her tomb and resurrect her so that she can purge humanity of evil. Layla rescues Grant, but Harrow summons an invisible jackal-like monster to pursue them.

Grant summons a suit similar to Spector’s and fights the jackal, but is overpowered and allows Spector to take control. Spector kills the jackal but loses the scarab to Harrow. Khonshu angrily confronts Spector, who promises to find Ammit’s tomb before Harrow does. Khonshu threatens to claim Layla as his next avatar should Spector fail before sending him to Egypt.

Easter Eggs: Moon Knight’s mummy bandages on his costume was inspired by his depiction in the Universe X comics. The two “detectives” are credited as Bobbi Fitzgerald and Billy Kennedy, a reference to the Moon Knight run where they work as Ammit’s two right-hand men to keep Marc from coming to reality.

Music: The Egyptian song “El Melouk” by Ahmed Saad ft. 3enba and Double Zuksh, is featured during the episode’s credits sequence

Episode three: The Friendly Type

Director:    Mohamed Diab.

Writers:    Beau DeMayo and Peter Cameron & Sabir Pirzada

US Release Date: April 13, 2022

Summary:  Arthur Harrow and his followers discover the location of Ammit’s tomb. In Cairo, Marc Spector and Steven Grant both experience several unusual blackouts while tracking down a lead to Harrow’s location. After they fail to obtain information from Harrow’s followers, Khonshu causes a solar eclipse to call for a council of the Ennead and their avatars, who summon Spector to a chamber inside the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Khonshu and Spector attempt to inform the gods of Harrow’s plan to free Ammit, but the latter successfully denies the accusation when summoned. The avatar of Hathor, Yatzil, tells Spector to find the sarcophagus of a medjay who knew of the location of Ammit’s tomb. He later encounters Layla, who takes him to meet with Anton Mogart, an acquaintance of Layla who owns the medjay’s sarcophagus. However, the meeting goes awry when Harrow arrives and destroys the sarcophagus, forcing Spector, Grant and Layla to fight off Mogart’s men and escape into the desert.

Grant is able to assemble a set of fragments from the sarcophagus into an ancient star map, but the map is two thousand years out of date. Khonshu uses his powers to briefly turn back the night sky to resemble the map, allowing Grant and Layla to find the location of Ammit’s tomb. However, Khonshu is then imprisoned by the other gods, leaving Grant and Spector’s body unconscious and powerless.

MCU Connections: Anton Mogart’s bodyguard, Bek, tells Layla, “He’s looking forward to seeing you. After Madripoor, I’m sure you two will have a lot to talk about”. In the comics, Madripoor is an insular city-state located in maritime Southeast Asia, presented as a lawless hive of criminality known to folks like Baron Zemo and Sharon Carter. Madripoor made its Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021).

Easter Eggs: When Moon Knight stopped Anton Mogart by throwing his moon boomerang at him, he disappeared into the mist at the same time that a giant clock at his backyard hit midnight. That’s a reference to Mogart’s alter ego in the comics, Midnight Man, because his thefts would take place exactly at midnight

This episode is dedicated to Gaspard Ulliel, who portrayed Anton Mogart / Midnight Man and died two months before ‘Moon Knight’ premiered, due to a brain injury caused by a skiing accident on January 19, 2022, at the age of 37. ‘Moon Knight’ was the last project that Ulliel finished filming. At the end credits there is a title card that reads, “In memory of Gaspard Ulliel”. This was the first time that Marvel paid tribute to Ulliel. Nearly 20 hours after the episode was made available on Disney+, Marvel Studios’ official pages shared a tribute to Ulliel that read, “Moon Knight’s episode 3 is dedicated to our talent friend Gaspard Ulliel.”

My take: I thought opening the show from the point of view of Stephen was a great idea. He’s a fish out of water and it demonstrates his mental condition fairly clearly