With Moon Knight debuting on Disney+ on March 30th, this seemed like a good time to give an overview of the character for those who aren’t familiar with him. Until word of the series started getting around, Moon Knight was virtually unknown outside of comic book readers. He’s had a complicated history, with several different iterations of the character showing up over time. What follows is the basics of his comic book history, and a reminder that the Marvel Studios makes changes as they see fit. Even as a diehard comic book fan, I’ll say that most of their changes have been for the better.
Marc Spector was born in Chicago, son of Elias Spector, a rabbi who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust. Early in his childhood, Marc came to the attention of Khonshu, worshipped in ancient Egypt as a god of the moon, justice, and protector of travelers in the night. Something was different about Marc’s mind and it made for an easier psychic connection for the god, who couldn’t leave the Otherworld, where he was trapped. Later, Marc began developing signs of mental illness, more specifically dissociative identity disorder or multiple personalities. He made up a friend named Steven Grant, not realizing he was actually both people, and, in his teens, added Jake Lockley to the mix in his head. Institutionalized, Marc eventually managed to escape and joined the US Marines, lying extensively about his background. While he qualified for the elite Force Recon, he was eventually discharged when his past came to light. He worked as an underground fighter until he met Jean-Paul DuChamp, usually called Frenchie, and the two began working as mercenaries together. During his time as a gun for hire, Marc clashed with his brother Randall, who also had mental health issues, but of the more homicidal variety.
Marc and Frenchie eventually met up with a ruthless mercenary named Raoul Bushman. During this time, Marc and Randall were on opposite sides, and Marc actually shot Randall without realizing he was in the fight, although Randall was convinced his brother had tried to kill him. Marc eventually split with Bushman, who proved to have no problem with killing noncombatants, including Dr. Peter Alraune, an archeologist. The doctor had recently found a previously undiscovered tomb, and Bushman planned to loot it. Marc saved Marlene, the doctor’s daughter, and fought Bushman, who won and left Marc for dead. Marc was carried into the tomb by some locals, and somehow, Marc survived, and even miraculously healed. Awakening at the foot of a statue of Khonshu, Marc took a hooded cloak from the tomb and dedicated his life to becoming the “Fist of Khonshu,” the god’s agent on Earth. Marlene was convinced Marc was hallucinating, but went with him back to America. Randall reappeared, also trying to win Khonshu’s favor, but nothing happened, creating another rift between the brothers.
Back in America, Marc more fully developed his different identities: Steven Grant, millionaire businessman; Jake Lockley, cab driver; Marc Spector, mercenary, and Moon Knight, a superhero with specialized equipment, including an attack helicopter piloted by Frenchie. For most of his early career as a vigilante, Marc was thought to be more or less insane, both by other heroes and his closest associates. Over time, it became more and more apparent that Khonshu was real. For a time, Moon Knight worked with the West Coast Avengers, imbued by his god with supernatural strength based on the phases of the moon. During this time, he began dating fellow Avenger Tigra. Marc left the Avengers when they disagreed over some of his methods, and he returned to New York, once again operating as a lone vigilante with Marlene and Frenchie aiding him. Spector has actually died several times in the course of his adventures, and each time been brought back by Khonshu, telling him his work isn’t done. He most often works out of New York City, usually lacking powers (depending on the state of his relationship with Khonshu, who gives and takes back various gifts) and relying on exceptional combat skills and special equipment. He has clashed with several figures from his past, notably Bushman, and different incarnations of his brother, Randall, but doesn’t have an extensive rogues gallery as many heroes do.
Powers and skills: Marc Spector is a phenomenal fighter, a master of many forms of armed and unarmed combat. He’s skilled with most forms of weapons. In the early stages of his costumed career, he most often used throwing darts shaped like crescent moons, a club that expanded into nunchaku, and wore a costume with Kevlar and armored components. At one point, he used special weapons dedicated to Khonshu, lost them when he fell into disfavor with the god, and used replacements designed by fellow Avenger Hawkeye.
For a time, Moon Knight had superhuman strength that was linked to the phases of the moon, but this gift was rescinded. Either his mental health issues or the blessings of his god make Moon Knight much more resistant to mental powers that most humans. Marc Spector has died several times, and been resurrected by Khonshu, although those that don’t believe in the god or Marc’s connection to him presume Marc was mistakenly thought to be dead.
Moon Knight has appeared in various cartoons and video games. His upcoming Disney+ series is the character’s first outing in live action. Kevin Feige has stated Moon Knight will move on to some MCU films after his series, although which ones haven’t been revealed.