Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Marvel Won't Give Moon Knight A Movie

Because of the explosive popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, more people are aware of characters ranging from the insanely popular (Spider-Man and Iron Man) to the deliberately niche and weird (Rocket Raccoon and Groot). However, there are certain characters that remain on the fringe even for those who regularly read Marvel's comics.

Moon Knight is part of this group. Depending on who's writing him, he's either Batman-lite or a killer who talks to a moon god when he's not busy talking to his multiple personalities (which ironically include Marvel's more popular characters). Despite being so esoteric, Moon Knight has quite the cult following, and they've clamored for years to see him grace the silver screen alongside Captain America, Nick Fury, and others. The blunt truth, however, is that a Moon Knight movie is never going to happen—and these are just a few of the reasons why.

Killer vigilante who talks to god

When it comes to religion and religious topics, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has wisely decided to tread lightly, but with Moon Knight, it's impossible to separate man and religion. He draws powers from the moon god Khonshu, so simply telling this superhero's story would mean acknowledging more powerful and verifiable gods within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He eventually comes to believe he's this god's chosen one and undertakes his often-lethal vigilante missions believing he's doing Khonshu's work. None of this translates to the screen very well, because Moon Knight would come across as a crazy cultist; someone killing people in accordance with his arcane religious beliefs. Moon Knight would seem like Son of Sam or, even worse, a violent and extreme jihadist...not exactly a character a religiously polarized audience is ready to embrace.

Religious implications

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had to walk a subtle line when it comes to religion. For instance, Thor is a literal god...the embodiment and seeming verification of Norse religious beliefs. At the same time, the first Thor movie goes out of its way to emphasize that he and his fellow Asgardians are more like aliens from a different planet than beings we'd popularly conceive of as deities.

But Moon Knight and the god who powers and guides him, Khonshu, would change everything. It would make textually explicit that Marvel's onscreen world is full of a pantheon of different gods trying to influence the world of mortal man—including his enemy, the rival god Seth. At this point, it would be almost impossible for viewers to take the threat of Thanos and others very seriously. Why worry about periodic alien invasions if gods walk the earth? Finally, it would change the fabric of the world itself, making viewers question why some gods show up and others don't...and why does Moon Knight get to talk to his god directly while everyone else still has to go through a middleman?

Similarities to Batman

One of the areas where Marvel has been very successful is in making their various onscreen characters seem distinct—both from their fellow MCU heroes, and from their DC-derived competition. Iron Man, for example, could have ended up being just a variation on the Batman story: rich white man, motivated by tragedy, uses an array of improbable gear to fight supervillains. However, everything from the wonderful personality of Robert Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark to the bright and creative gadgets made the movie feel clearly separate from any adventures set in Gotham City.

Moon Knight would not be so lucky. A wealthy man by day and a mask-clad vigilante by night, he lives in a mansion built over a cave, is assisted by a faithful butler, and fights crime with his fists and a variety of moon-themed weaponry. Sure, there are plenty of differences, too, but to the average viewer, Moon Knight's essential concepts look like they were lifted entirely from the Dark Knight. And with more Batman movies coming from Warner Bros., it's unlikely Marvel wants to run their ripoff character in direct competition with the real thing.

The gimmick is too much

On the subject of the themed weaponry, Moon Knight's moon-shaped gear is just too much for modern audiences. While it's up for debate whether this is any more or less goofy than bat-themed gadgets, mainstream audiences have had the better part of a century to get used to the idea of Batman—live-action portrayals of the character date back to 1943, so the idea of batarangs and Batmobiles has been normalized for non-comics readers.

Moon Knight, in contrast, has used throwing darts, nunchucks, a boomerang, various sticks (some magic and golden, some not), gauntlets, and many more. This translates really poorly to live action because weapons and gear are typically ways of learning about a character: Iron Man uses repulsor blasts which keep the world at arm's length even as he tries to save it; Captain America carries a shield that he uses to protect the country. One look at these characters, and audiences have a better idea of what motivates them; one look at Moon Knight and all audiences can determine is that he is as bad at settling on one theme as he is at picking one weapon.

His greatest moments, and powers, must be forgotten

Although death is never permanent in comics, Moon Knight had one of the cooler comic book deaths. The character had been down on his luck after quitting the Avengers because they did not fully agree with or understand his methods. He eventually grappled with a man claiming to be his great-great grandfather who planned on using a custom computer virus to destroy all the buildings owned by Moon Knight's civilian identity. This would have caused thousands of deaths, but Moon Knight prevented it by literally locking the virus down to a single building which exploded, taking his life.

This checks all the boxes for a superhero story. There are familial betrayals, an impractically elaborate supervillain plan, and the hero's willingness to sacrifice himself to save others. Why, then, is this part of why there will never be a Moon Knight movie? Marvel has no interest in killing its characters, for one thing. The studio wants franchises, so Moon Knight at his self-sacrificial best can never grace the screen. In the comics, he's brought back by his moon god, Khonshu, who can seemingly treat death like a revolving door. Resurrection is a key feature of the character, but that element doesn't work as well in a movie—how can there could ever be any life or death drama when audiences known their protagonist has a built-in ability to cheat death?

The Winter Soldier similarity

One of the abundant lessons of superhero cinema is that the superhero must have compelling supporting characters. Even heroes known for operating on their own, such as Spider-Man or Batman, have their stories fleshed out by characters such as Mary Jane and Alfred. Moon Knight has a limited number of characters, and one of them is the imaginatively named sidekick Midnight. Unfortunately, just as Moon Knight's own story is a little too close to Batman for comfort, the story of his sidekick has uncomfortable similarities to another well-known character.

Get this: Midnight is a loyal sidekick who is thought dead after he and Moon Knight fight a secret organization that has spent years trying to infiltrate the American government. He comes back, however, as a part-man, part-machine enhanced soldier who is now being used to fight various heroes—and America itself. If that sounds familiar, it's because it's almost beat-for-beat the Winter Soldier story. Audiences have already seen Captain America's sidekick get nearly killed, brainwashed, and cybernetically tricked out by the evil Hydra organization. Like so much else about Moon Knight, his sidekick will never translate to film because it'll look like Marvel is ripping off other movies—and themselves.

His insanity

Mental illness is a delicate subject when it comes to superheroes. After all, it would seem that anyone who puts on spandex and spends all night punching people as a vigilante must have more than a few screws loose. However, Moon Knight is canonically established as insane by the comics on multiple occasions. This is an integral aspect of his character, but it makes for a very poor translation to the silver screen.

Even on a good day, Moon Knight's brain has several extra passengers in the form of his numerous personalities (more on that later). However, when he is separated from the influence of the moon god, it triggers a spiral of deteroriating mental health and outright breaks from reality. This includes hallucinations and violent outbursts that drive close friends and lovers away. In an amusingly meta twist, certain writers use that mental illness to explain away the troubling idea of the moon god being real by explaining that it's all in his head (something the writers have gone back and forth on).

Unfortunately, it's a bit of a Catch-22 as explanations go. If moviegoers aren't ready for a violent religious zealot hero, they're really not ready for an outright crazy hero. The madness would color his every potential action and plot point and even make viewers question the veracity of what they're seeing. If Marvel makes a Moon Knight movie, they must take his madness away—but to many fans, a Moon Knight movie without madness wouldn't be a true representation of the character.

Silliness of multiple personalities

A major part of Moon Knight's madness is his multiple personalities. These personalities include a taxi driver named Jake Lockley, mercenary Marc Spector, and superheroes such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain America. Depending on the writer, the portrayal of these personalities goes far beyond standard multiple personality disorder—they interact with each other, guide Moon Knight like an imaginary conscience, and even "kill" each other.

Absolutely none of this would translate well to the silver screen. Marvel occasionally flirts with addressing the psychological fallout of suphero hijinks, most notably in Iron Man 3. However, that film featured a Tony Stark who, while suffering from PTSD, was still recognizably himself. Moon Knight literally becomes these other personalities, which leads to the Dollhouse problem.

Dollhouse was a Joss Whedon show that didn't experience the level of critical, commercial, or even cult success enjoyed by Whedon series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly because its core conceit involved a protagonist who would be loaded with different personalities every week. Ultimately, there was no "there" there: it's tough to develop or root for a character who's someone different with each new adventure.

His costume won't film well

This is a nitpicky one, but it's true: Moon Knight's costume is quite possibly the worst to try to adapt to the big screen. It's true that most superhero costumes look goofy in their original comics, and it's a bit of an art for designers to turn those bizarre designs into aesthetically-pleasing movie versions. One of the chief ways filmmakers do this is by making costumes darker. The Scarlet Witch's bright red spandex affair becomes a maroon jacket and black dress, for instance, and Hawkeye's garish purple outfit from the comics has morphed into a nearly all-black outfit for Civil War.

So, where does this leave Moon Knight? His costume is...white. Not only will this look stunningly poor in most environments, but there isn't really much designers can do to make it look more modern or realistic. If they go the usual route and make it darker, the character will instantly lose his famous look. Worse, it will just end up highlighting all of those Batman similarities. Finally, it will be a design nightmare from scene to scene. Every audience member knows how annoying it is to get ketchup (or, as Deadpool can attest, blood) out of a white shirt. Realistically, Moon Knight's outfit should be a magnet for dirt and blood, which means he may spend most of the movie looking like a super-hobo after his first couple of fights.

He's redundant

It's one thing to compare Moon Knight to Batman. However, many will say that's not fair, as readers have reconciled comics similarities very often over the years. A prime example would be Quicksilver and the Flash, whose essential powers are exactly the same. However, the presence of a Flash TV show and his upcoming movie didn't keep Marvel from featuring Quicksilver in the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie.

Moon Knight has a different problem, though. He isn't just competing against the characters and movies of Warner Bros.—in many ways, he's competing with the rest of the MCU, and in all the ways that counts, he's redundant. He doesn't have any notable superpowers or reliable super-strength, instead relying on gadgets to help fight various villains. Of course, that's also true of Hawkeye, Black Widow, and arguably Iron Man. Hell, that's the basic description of literally every single Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. So a Moon Knight movie is unlikely because it's asking viewers to watch the umpteenth iteration of this character archetype within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Better as a TV show

For a variety of reasons, it's obvious that Moon Knight would function better on the small screen — and Marvel clearly agrees, given that he's headlining his own series on the Disney+ streaming service. Having an entire season to develop his character would allow audiences to better see and absorb his regular changes in everything from personality to purpose. Those developments would seem rushed in a two-hour movie that must also introduce the world, the villains, and the supporting cast, but could breathe and even flourish when spread out over ten hours or more. His character seems tailor-made for the Disney+ treatment, which will leave room for a story delving into a character tortured by guilt, loss, and trauma in ways that keep them from integrating with the tights-and-fights Avengers. And if Moon Knight doesn't end up fitting in with the rest of the Disney+ superhero lineup at first, he can just keep swapping personalities until he does.