Moon Knight’s first episode set the stage for an Egyptian god-based superhero series, introducing Steven Grant, who works in the U.K.’s National History Museum. It also introduced Arthur Harrow, the show’s primary antagonist, who declared to Steven that he was the “avatar” of Ammit, an Egyptian god. But Steven also hears a god inside his head and sees him as an apparition, Khonshu. So, who is Khonshu, and how does his relationship to Moon Knight’s story line up with the comics?
Warning: Spoilers for Moon Knight Episode 2 follow. At the end of the show’s first episode, Grant discovered someone was looking for him, someone who called him Marc (the name of another mysterious voice in Steven’s head). As fans learned in Episode 2, this person’s name is Layla, and she is Marc’s wife. Marc panicked at her arrival, screaming at Steven to get her as far away from them as possible, because their presence puts her life at risk.
But it wasn’t until Steven tracked down Marc’s storage unit that he put the pieces together: Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon, chose Marc as his avatar, which the god used to walk around on Earth. When Marc inconveniently passed away, Khonshu saved him by grabbing a body that was a biological match and inserting his consciousness into it. (Think “twin strangers,” the term for two completely unrelated people who can nevertheless pass as twins.) That body, of course, turned out to be Steven’s — so now Marc, Khonshu, and Steven all share Steven’s body. Three’s a crowd!
This is... not at all how it goes down in the Moon Knight comics.
Marvel’s first foray into Egyptian gods as superheroes came in the early 1940s, with the mention of the Heliopolitans, humans who are the physical representatives of the gods on Earth, and whose bodies the gods sometimes take over. Since then, the gods have bounced around. Bast became associated with Black Panther’s mythos in the 1960s; Osiris and Isis teamed up with the Asgardians in the 1970s; Khonshu became tied to Moon Knight in the 1980s.
Marc Spector was originally introduced in 1975 as the son of a rabbi and former CIA/Marine turned mercenary, betrayed by his BFF and partner during a job near the pyramids. When he awoke inside one of the chambers, he believed himself to be resurrected by Khonshu and dedicated his life to serving the Egyptian god, dubbing himself Moon Knight.
What might not be clear in that description is the original comics heavily suggested Khonshu did not actually resurrect Spector. After his BFF betrayed him, Marc endured a psychotic break, so this was all in his head. He creates false identities to help him in his adventures, including Steven Grant, a playboy billionaire, a cab driver Jake Lockley, and a suited consultant known as Mr. Knight.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that Moon Knight began to morph more into the character on screen. At that point, he was retconned into having dissociative identity disorder (DID); his fake identities are his other personalities. But Khonshu is real; he links back to the 1950s version. In the 1990s, he was the source of Moon Knight’s abilities and an ally helping Spector fight for justice. However, recently, Khonshu became an antagonist in the comics, with Marc and his various personalities up against a god who could control their body.
So far, the Disney+ version of Moon Knight has been leaning heavily into the later version of the character, although Grant is less of someone with DID and more of an accidental passenger on a ride he did not sign up for. As for Khonshu, he’s a god with his own agenda and he is none too pleased with Grant’s habit of fighting for the right to control his own body.
Right now, it seems Khonshu and Marc’s fight is on the side of right, keeping a vengeful and scorned Harrow from releasing Ammit and the atrocities that would follow. But until Marc and Steven can team up and compare notes, there could be a hidden agenda neither of them has put together.
Moon Knight continues with new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.
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