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

Moon Knight Has Done Some Terrible Things, And These Are The Worst

The latest hero to be plucked from the pages of Marvel Comics for the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Moon Knight, and he is unlike any before him. Moon Knight, who also goes by Marc Spector, Mr. Knight, Steven Grant, and a host of other identities, is not an easy character to pin down. Depending on the day, the stakes, and Spector's mood, he might be the archetypical genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist; a brooding, vengeful cowled crusader; or the Earthy avatar of a mad Egyptian god. But no matter who Moon Knight is that day, he is not to be taken lightly. In his long, dense history, the famous Fist of Khonshu has tended to be light on the Khonshu and heavy on the Fist.

Moon Knight has very few rules, and for the most part, his modus operandi has been whatever does the most damage and spreads the most fear. In his quest for vengeance, justice, or merely the indulgence of his delusions, the Knight has sunk to some uniquely dark depths. He is not above brutality, torture, and murder if the circumstances are right — or at least if he thinks they are. In short: Moon Knight has done some terrible things. Here are the worst.

Working as an assassin

With the modern-day popularity of the merc-with-a-mouth Deadpool, alongside lesser successes like Taskmasker, Domino, Deathstroke, Deadshot, and others, the concept of a comic book hero making their living as a mercenary has become commonplace. It certainly makes sense — what better way for a superhuman weapons expert with special forces training, photographic reflexes, and impeccable aim to make a living? But no matter how common the job have become, and no matter how much sense it makes, paying the bills with contract killings is — to put it nicely — a morally questionable choice.

When readers were first introduced to Spector in 1975's "Werewolf by Night #32," he was far from a fist of vengeance, and even farther from an Avenger. Spector was just a skilled ex-soldier, an experienced combatant with the weapons training to tackle targets that laymen couldn't. In fact, that is how he first became Moon Knight. The shadowy cabal known as the Committee hired Spector to defeat the antihero known as Werewolf by Night (who, yes, works by night). To help defeat the creature, the Committee outfitted Spector with an all-silver outfit, silver weapons, and holy relics. In other words, Moon Knight was born essentially by donning a hired assassin in the appropriate armor for his target.

Hiding his mental health condition from the military

As the years went by, Spector's story was fleshed out over a number of incarnations and an even greater number of writers. In his first and second solo series that ran throughout most of the '80s, writers Doug Moench and Alan Zelenetz, in particular, were key in transforming Moon Knight from a simple silver-clad soldier to the unpredictable avatar of vengeance that we know today. They established his mental health, his devotion to the ancient Egyptian deity Khonshu, his Jewish heritage, his arsenal of Batman-esque weapons, and so on, pouring the foundation for the modern Moon Knight. In one more modern series, writer Jeff Lemire added one quick retcon to Moench and Zelenetz's framework — and it paints Spector in a terrible light.

In "Moon Knight" (2016) #11, Lemire revealed that Spector's mental health issues, most likely dissociative identity disorder, went farther back than his adulthood communion with Khonshu. In fact, Spector had been living with the disorder since childhood and, when as a young adult he decided to enlist in the U.S. Marines, Spector decided to simply keep that side (or sides) of himself a secret. He lied about his mental health, concealed his medical records, and spent years in active combat situations with fellow soldiers who were all unaware of the true Spector that served with them. It wasn't until the night that Spector blacked out, stripped naked, and walked out into an active minefield that he was caught and discharged from service.

Hacking Deadpool to bits

The 2009 series "Vengeance of the Moon Knight" didn't last long, but before its ten-issue was run was over, it left readers with a few memorable Moony moments. One of the most unforgettable was Spector's run-in with Deadpool, an encounter that helped reveal just how unhinged the White Knight could be.

In issue #8, both Spector and Deadpool have been tasked with taking down the same crooked businessman and possible child trafficker. The two mercs only come into conflict when Spector decides to capture the target alive, defying Deadpool's murderous goal. Based on that premise, it may seem like Moon Knight is one on the side of (ancient Egyptian) angels, but a thorough read proves otherwise. When the target surrenders to Moon Knight peacefully, the hero sighs and proclaims that was "not much fun." Then, through what Spector might call kismet, he discovers that Deadpool's healing factor makes him functionally immortal — meaning there's still some "fun" on that night's docket. Spector and Deadpool battle, and Spector uses the moral get out of jail free card presented by Deadpool's immortality to literally cut the merc to pieces. Using his silver katana, Spector cuts into Deadpool until he's nothing but a mound of blood and flesh and then calmly exits, saying "Man... I needed that."

Attacking the Avengers

The 2020 event "Age of Khonshu" sees Spector's mystifying mind and erratic morality applied to stakes unlike any of those that had come before. In turn, Moon Knight's righteousness and deviousness are amplified to unprecedented levels. After his patron deity, Khonshu, learns of the far-reaching and potentially calamitous machinations of the Marvel Universe's literal devil, Mephisto, the god sends Spector on a quest to stop the devil — at any cost.

To be more specific, Khonshu tells Spector that the cost will be isolating the Avengers, pummeling them one by one, and stealing their powers. After Khonshu arms Spector with amplified powers and the ability to leech the powers of others, he goes to work. He first targets Danny Rand, beating him to a pulp and forcefully stripping the Iron Fist from him. Next, Spector uses the Iron Fist, alongside a pack of Khonshu-generated mummies, to knock out Doctor Strange and steal his mastery over the mystic arts. The Knight continues the super-powered snowball, and in rapid succession steals Ghost Rider's ride (in this iteration, a car), and even marches the armies of Khonshu into Wakanda, intent on seizing the power of the Black Panther. Only the intervention of the God of Thunder and King of Asgard, Thor, halts Moon Knight's rampage ... momentarily, at least.

Dropping moons on Thor

As "Age of Khonshu" continues, Moon Knight becomes certain that his final challenge in defeating the Avengers will be the strongest of them all, the Mighty Thor. Spector waits for the thunder god on Earth's moon, and — endowed with his own powers, Khonshu's, Iron Fist's, and Doctor Strange's — waits calmly and silently.

Within moments of the thunder god's arrival, Spector seizes a sound victory. As Moon Knight knows but Thor does not, Thor's hammer Mjolnir was crafted from a type of moon rock — and therefore, subject to the will of Moon Knight. Spector easily steals control of the powerful weapon from Thor and uses it to pummel its former master like he were an ordinary man. Not satisfied with the easy victory, Spector then does what Spector tends to — goes much farther than anyone would have expected. With his heightened powers of lunakinesis, Spector gathers moons from across galaxies — in his own words, "As far as the Eye of Agamotto can see" — and crushes Thor between them. Though all of his actions are for the greater good, namely the defeat of a literal Devil, Spector clobbering Earth's greatest heroes and stealing their strengths is what most would call terrible.

Killing his brother

The phrases "greater good" and "necessary evil" appear frequently when people speak about Moon Knight's methods — including the Knight himself. He's done a number of terrible things, but at least he can say that good has come of them. Though even for a vigilante like Moon Knight, sometimes the good is little comfort for the evil done. In the case of the ending of 2010's "Shadowlands: Moon Knight" miniseries, all the good that Spector does isn't enough to completely clear his conscience — not after cutting his own brother's throat.

Few would argue that Spector's brother Randall didn't have it coming. When the villain Profile convinces Randall that he is Khonshu's true avatar instead of Marc, Randall jumps at the chance to finally feel "special." He creates a supervillain persona known as "the Shadowknight" and begins terrorizing his brother and those closest to him. Randall, the Shadowknight, goes on a murder spree in order to attract Marc's attention, attacks Marc's girlfriend Marlene, and threatens to murder more innocents with an explosive vest. Moon Knight does what has to be done, at least in his assessment, and throws one of his crescent daggers into Shadownight's throat. And though the act saves lives, fratricide doesn't sit easily in Spector's already-overburdened conscience.

Carving his symbol into people's faces

Most heroes end their run-ins with petty criminals by administering a simple beating, maybe adding a verbal warning, and vanishing into the night. For Moon Knight, however — and especially the pitiless Moon Knight of writer Charlie Huston's "Moon Knight" (2006), beatings and advice aren't enough. In issue #13, an exchange between one frantic petty criminal and two nonchalant NYPD detectives reveals the true extent of Spector's ruthless routine.

The criminal arrives at the police station with a bloody crescent moon carved into his forehead and apparently carved deeply. The two detectives who hear his story receive it with a noticeable lack of surprise, and there is one good reason for that — Moon Knight does this often. One detective covers his desk with more than a dozen pictures of criminals who have had the shape carved into their faces, and he even offers to bring out "the others," implying any number of additional mutilations. As if that wasn't enough, several of the pictures prove that Moon Knight doesn't limit himself to one disfigurement per perp, and that "his favorites" can rack up three or four crescent moons apiece. And, because the limits of Spector's ferocity can never safely be assumed, the detective adds that those disfigured victims "are just the ones still got noses and lips and suchlike."

Pulling the plug on an elderly stroke victim

In "Marvel Comics Presents" #4, a short story starring Moon Knight manages to earn the vigilante another square in his lifelong game of Moral Ambiguity Bingo. As always, some could explain away his actions by ends justifying means, but it's never perfectly clear if the Moon Knight himself buys the justification.

When a string of murders hits New York with no obvious cause or connection, Moon Knight begins investigating. Based on a distinctly Egyptian-looking eye carved into the victims, and a flurry of research on Spector's part, he is able to locate the only possible killer: an aging ex-university professor, currently in a hospital bed and unconscious after a severe stroke. After the professor finished authoring a book on ancient demons who use people's dreams to force them into murder, he became one of their unwitting facilitators himself. In Spector's words, the man became "more than a scholar. He is... a host. Possessed by his material." Knowing the man, whether willingly or not, was enabling the murders through his constant dreams, Spector did what he believed he had to. He unplugged the man from his life support in the middle of the night, calmly and without hesitation. In all likelihood, the old man never even knew that Moon Knight was there.

Murdering his partner

Like Spector's brother Randall, Jeffrey Wilde was a figure from earlier in Spector's life who, at first, served as a treasured friend and ally. In the early '90s series "Marc Spector: Moon Knight," Wilde fought alongside Spector as a sort of sidekick, even wearing an imitation Moon Knight costume for a short stretch. But, again like Randall, Wilde eventually fell into madness and cruelty, and Spector dealt with both in the same way. Just as Randall reentered Spector's life as the Shadowknight, Wilde reentered Spector's life as the villainous Midnight. In one last direct parallel, Midnight started his reentry into Moon Knight's orbit with a killing spree meant to draw the cowled crusader's attention. Unfortunately for Midnight, it worked.

Beginning in issue six of "Moon Knight" (2006), Midnight murdered and tortured his way to Moon Knight, and by issue 12, the hero had had enough. For Midnight, whose crimes had all been themed around clocks in one way or another, his death was poetic. When Moon Knight finally reached a nexus between opportunity and rage, he ripped the spear-sized hand from a clock tower face and stabbed Midnight. He impaled Midnight with the clock hand straight down his throat and through him, turning his ex-sidekick into a bloody human scarecrow.

Killing a dolphin

Yes, you read that right. Before he earned his own Disney+ series, joined the blockbuster MCU, and possibly even become an Avenger, Moon Knight once murdered a dolphin. This was no robot dolphin, dolphin-human hybrid, hyper-intelligent brain in a dolphin body, or any other possible comic book trope that could offer an easy excuse. Moon Knight killed an average, Earthly dolphin — although to be fair, it did have rabies.

The act occurred in "Moon Knight" #198, when Spector attempted to infiltrate a cult of perverse sadists in order to take down their leader — longtime enemy and Nazi terrorist Ernst. In order to earn his way into the cruel, violent group, Spector had to convince them of his own cruelty. And convince them he did, so much so that it became hard for readers to determine whether Spector was faking cruelty as a means to an end or simply just unleashing his actual demons. He tore into the dolphin with a shiv, ripping it to pieces and then eating its meat. Further trials saw Spector pummeling and torturing different people, but nothing ever truly topped his dismantling of an innocent dolphin.

Cutting Bushman's face off

If Moon Knight has an archenemy — or had one, anyway — it's Raul Bushman. The two have fought a number of times throughout the years, and their first bout was the very encounter that created Moon Knight. It came in the pages of "Moon Knight" (1980) #1 the retcon that came to be the hero's canon origin. Bushman is the man that left Spector to die in the Egyptian desert, which gave Khonshu the window he needed to resurrect Spector and claim him as his new avatar. In a way, Bushman is the reason for all of Spector's pain as the Moon Knight — his conflicts, his deaths and rebirths, his mental health issues, and the rest. It's fitting then, that when Spector killed Bushman, he made sure that Bushman felt as much pain as humanly possible.

In the pages of "Moon Knight" (2006) #2, Moon Knight and Bushman fought their bloodiest battle yet, and Moon Knight ended it with even more blood. As the two wrestled in a dirty alley, Spector's rage completely consumed him. He drew one of his crescent daggers and began slowly, torturously, excruciatingly slicing the skin from Bushman's face. When the deed was done, Bushman lay dead, the remnants of his head just a skull with pulpy bits of sinew strewn across it. Spector then held the death mask up to the city's moon, screaming to Khonshu to accept the flesh as a holy sacrifice. There's a reason Moon Knight is the character chosen to take the MCU in a darker direction.