If you look closely at Empire’s shiny new Moon Knight covers, you’ll notice something about him that’s rare for an MCU hero. It’s not that he’s covered in Ancient Egyptian bandages, or that he’s got hieroglyphic-like symbols on his flowing cape (admittedly not common in the Marvel pantheon). No, it’s that if you look at his knuckles, and on the tips of his crescent moon-shaped weapons, you’ll find dark red blood streaks. The upcoming Disney+ MCU series – starring Oscar Isaac as the nocturnal vigilante with dissociative identity disorder and a penchant for Egyptology – is a show that, in all senses, doesn’t pull its punches.
There’s a harder edge to Moon Knight – aka Steven Grant, aka Marc Spector – that Marvel boss Kevin Feige isn’t shying away from. “He’s brutal,” Feige tells Empire, citing the streaming service as a space to expand what an MCU story can be. “It’s been fun to work with Disney+ and see the boundaries shifting on what we’re able to do. There are moments [in the series] when Moon Knight is wailing on another character, and it is loud and brutal, and the knee-jerk reaction is, ‘We’re gonna pull back on this, right?’ No. We’re not pulling back. There’s a tonal shift. This is a different thing. This is Moon Knight.”
It’s not just Moon Knight’s bloodied fists that mark a departure for the MCU – for one, his power-set is linked to a bird-skulled Egyptian deity known as Khonshu. But it’s also a show that looks set to deal sensitively with its central character’s mental health condition. “It is risky,” admits Isaac. “He’s an obscure hero, and the things we’re dealing with are very different. But because it’s a limited series, rather than a movie, the pressure isn’t there to make sure the opening weekend is massive. We’re able to take more risks, to bring that experimental quality on a huge scale.” Still, from the launch of Iron Man, to the assembling of The Avengers, to the double-whammy of Infinity War and Endgame, something has become clear: when Marvel takes risks, they tend to succeed in a major way.
Read Empire’s full Moon Knight feature in this month’s issue – talking to stars Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke and May Calamawy, writer Jeremy Slater, director Mohamed Diab, Marvel boss Kevin Feige and more about the arrival of the MCU’s wildest hero yet, with tons of exclusive new images. On sale Thursday 17 February, and available to pre-order online here. Moon Knight streams on Disney+ from March 30.