THE UNADAPTED: Moon Knight

Posted: May 8, 2015 in Baer, Daredevil, Marvel, Moon Knight, The Unadapted

**This edition of The unadapted was written by Brian Baer, frequent collaborator and author of the upcoming Bad Publicity from Portfolio Press. Be sure to check it out. But first, read his thoughts on why Marvel’s Batman should be brought to life.**

The problem with Moon Knight has never been that he was unknown. The character has been the star of several comics series, many with high-profile creators and respectable lifespans. He’s even been ranked as one of the greatest comics characters by Wizard and IGN.

The problem with Moon Knight is that most people know him, but only as a Batman rip-off.

The character was created in the boom of the Bronze Age. Originally appearing in an antagonist in Werewolf by Night in 1975, Moon Knight bounced around from guest spots to Marvel Spotlight anthology appearances before landing the first of his solo series in 1980. He’s been a mainstay of the Marvel universe ever since.

“Hi! We’re Moon Knight.”

Moon Knight was once Marc Spector, a mercenary killed in a mission to some Egyptian ruins. He was resurrected under a statue of Khonshu, the deity of the moon, night travelers, and vengeance. (Only the first two apply to the actual Egyptian god Khonsu.) Spector dons a silver (typically drawn as white) costume to fight crime in Khonshu’s image as Moon Knight, but also adopts the identities of millionaire Steven Grant (as a way to spend his illegally gained mercenary money) and taxi driver Jake Lockley (to keep an eye on the streets). These lines eventually blurred into Moon Knight’s most defining characteristic: a dissociative identity disorder.

How exactly is this a “copter”?

The most common description/insult of the character is “He’s a crazy Batman.” Certainly both are violent, caped vigilantes. The wealthy identity of Grant, along with moon-shaped throwing stars and gimmicky vehicles like a “Mooncopter” haven’t done much to dispel this image. On occasion, it’s felt downright intentional.

He even got a table in Pinball FX 2.

Perhaps because of this, Moon Knight’s appearances in popular media have been very slim. He has popped up in some video games and is slated to appear on the next season of the animated Avengers Assemble series, but that’s about it. The next closest was a namedrop on Blade: The Series. In a reference to his first appearance, Marc Spector was mentioned as an expert in werewolves. Showrunner David S. Goyer said Spector was to be included in a second season, and potentially to be spun off into his own series. That second season never came about.

Shiny!

Whether intended as a spin-off of Blade: The Series or not, the Canadian company No Equal Entertainment obtained the rights and began putting a Moon Knight show together in 2006. TV writer Jon Cooksey took the reins and said the show would “touch on deeper themes about heroism, love, and making our troubled world a better place.” Cooksey penned a series bible and six scripts, but production went nowhere and the rights returned to Marvel in 2009.

(No Equal Entertainment were contacted to contribute to this write-up, no response came. Not everyone can be as cool as Brian Clevenger.)

In Marvel’s press releases about making the show in 2006, they said, “Moon Knight’s blend of action, the supernatural, and complex, intriguing characters will serve as the foundation for the live-action series.” The thing is, they’re not wrong. The character would allow them to dip into the psychology of superhero, something people always talk about with Batman but rarely ever do. The only thing scarier and more intriguing than a person who wears a costume to beat up strangers is one that is actually, clinically insane.

So how can Marvel bring Moon Knight into another medium? They need look no further than the latest comic series where the character was reinvigorated by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and colorist Jordie Bellaire. The series was crafted in a TV-like format, with episodic, one-shot issues complete with “opening credit” sequences. Moon Knight became more grounded in that series, with more emphasis on Spector’s psychological issues. His multiple personalities became more clearly defined, as each one had a different costume and approach to Moon Knight’s mission. There was a more traditional superhero figure in black and white, a Sherlock Holmes-style police consultant in a three-piece suit, and another covered in bones and “magic” shamanic trinkets.

“Pssh. Single costumes are for chumps.”

This approach is certainly the most filmable. Marvel has proven how well it can handle a gritty, street-level drama with the Daredevil series from Netflix, and Moon Knight would benefit from the same treatment. It would be any actor’s dream to play such a complex character, and the full 13-episode season could be built around the different phases of Spector’s mental state and how much of his superheroic life is in his own head. This would let Marvel focus on what’s different and special about the character, as opposed to why he reminds us of someone else.

As Marvel expands its grasp on popular culture through its films and TV shows, it continues to look towards its lesser known characters. In a world where Benedict Cumberbatch plays Doctor Strange and Quake from Secret Warriors is the star of a TV show, Moon Knight’s time in the spotlight could be just around the corner.

Avengers, in order of importance…according to Brian.
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