'Moon Knight' Producers on Jake Lockley, Scarlet Scarab and a Possible Season 2 (Exclusive)
By Meredith B. Kile
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Spoiler alert! Do not read on until you've finished season 1 of Marvel'sMoon Knight, streaming now on Disney+. Major spoilers ahead!
Moon Knightended its first season on Wednesday, leaving fans with potentially more questions than answers as Marc Spector, aka Steven Grant, aka the titular vigilante, fought his way through his own twisted psyche in order to save the world from a cult leader bent on bringing balance at the cost of thousands of "unworthy" lives.
If the enemy sounds vaguely familiar, fear not. Moon Knight's hero is unlike any the MCU has seen before, with Oscar Isaac turning in a spellbinding performance as both Marc and Steven, who have to come to terms with themselves, and each other, in order to take on the cult leader, Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke).
"Oscar changed the game, absolutely," executive producer Grant Curtis told ET about one of the newest actors to take up the mantle of a Marvel hero. "I remember being on set one of the days when he kind of broke that barrier and played both [Marc and Steven] back to back. And you could hear a pin drop, because watching him seamlessly transfer... it was just mind-blowing. And you realized that that development was on the page, but it wasn't real. It wasn't tangible. It wasn't emotional until Oscar got his hands on it."
Moon Knight'sfirst season ends with Marc/Steven believing he's finally been freed from the service of Egyptian moon god Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham), but as always, a Marvel post-credits scene resets everything we think we know about the show's universe.
Harrow, now languishing in a mental facility, is kidnapped by yet another of Marc's personalities, gruff driver Jake Lockley, who seems to be even more violent than former contract killer Marc. Jake dispatches Harrow in the back of a limo -- firing silenced gunshots as the screen goes black -- much to the delight of Khonshu, who revels in the fact that he still has a human avatar to do his bidding.
The scene has fans clamoring for a season 2, and while nothing has been confirmed just yet, Isaac played coy about continuing the character(s) when ET spoke with him ahead of the season premiere.
First noting that it might be fun to see Moon Knight get to fight alongside the Midnight Sons, the actor also contemplated the possibility of yet another Moon Knight costume that corresponds with Jake's persona.
“I like how you’re thinking. That is very logical,” Isaac said at the time, giving little away.
However, ET got the chance to speak with Curtis, as well as director Mohamed Diab, following the finale, to learn as much as possible about the season finale and the creative journey ahead. Read on to hear what they said!
ET: So, the series ends with confirmation that yes, Marc and Steven have another personality, Jake Lockley, lurking inside. While you're surely sworn to Marvel secrecy, what can you say about the future of the show and how we might get to see that character play out?
Grant Curtis: I'm a fanboy with the rest of the fans. I don't know exactly where this is going. It's a great question for our leader, Kevin Feige. But I got to tell you, what has been put on the screen by Mohamed and Benson & Moorhead and obviously portrayed by Oscar, Ethan, and May- Moon Knight is such a rich character. I think he can merge anywhere. And I want to see more of that adventure. I want to ride off in that limo and see where it goes. I actually want to see more of this character that Oscar portrayed, and it's really a testament to his artistry and craft.
Mohamed Diab: When it comes to the future projects, [the filmmakers] are just like the fans. Part of the game is, you don't know what's going on. And [Marvel is] not a traditional studio -- when the season 1 succeeds, we go to season 2? No. You could go to a film. You can be a part of another superhero's journey. So I have no clue what's going on, but if you ask me, I wish I could be part of the extension of that world. I want to start seeing Jake Lockley's world and see life through his eyes.
I see him like a taxi driver kind of guy. He is very depressed and very violent. I want to see Marc and Steven thinking they're free, restarting their lives and all of a sudden, discovering that they're not. They're still under the spell of Khonshu. I want to explore the version of the comics, when everything that you see was part of a movie.... That's a great mind game that I would love to play with. And again, the mind game in the show is not just the gimmick. It's a way, a window, to see how a lot of DID patients are living their lives.
As for the decision to have Jake speak Spanish?
MD: That's Oscar's idea. There's tons of things in the show that are Oscar's idea. He and Ethan and May are not just people who came on the set and played the roles. They're super intellectual people -- every one of them made this show much better. For example, the idea that Marc should have an English accent. Just imagine the show without that, it's completely different. And that was [Oscar's] idea. Jake as a Spanish character, a genius idea that completely distinguishes him from the other two, that was his idea too. But that's what happens when you immerse yourself completely in the work and you're an intellectual person like Oscar.
GC: That's all Oscar. His tool chest is a deep one, and he pulled that out, and it was awesome. And it enriched that character even more.
We also saw Layla (May Calamawy) agreeing to be a "temporary" avatar for Tawaret (voiced by Antonia Salib), and getting her own heroic costume and powers. What was it like building that journey for the character alongside Marc/Steven and getting to introduce the MCU's first Egyptian superhero?
MD: First of all, I have to give it to the writers who came up with the idea that we should make her into an Egyptian character.... And May was the strongest ally for Layla, always. She's very similar to Layla by the way, very fierce and strong. And this is something that I was so proud of and I was making sure I was shepherding... the idea that we don't ever want to see the tropes of an Arab woman as weak and submissive. Because that's actually not true. Most of the women that I know are super strong. The hard conditions in our world make them strong, not weak.
I would say that about my mom, my sister, my wife, my daughter. But that moment of her turning into a superhero, that's something else. I want to tell you that my daughter, when she was three, she was telling me, I want to straighten my hair. Why? Because every Disney princess has straight hair. So to create this beautiful character -- Layla looks beautiful. And at the same time, she's so fierce and my daughter and a lot of other girls from the Middle East and from places around the world can look up to other people and now have a real hero of their own.
GC: I'm really jazzed that we're introducing Marvel's first Egyptian superhero into the MCU. And not only that, but the Scarlet Scarab is portrayed by an amazing actress in May. So that was just really a natural progression in storytelling... On weekends, and whenever we could, we would hole up in the Four Seasons in Budapest, and we'd be reading the scripts with May and Ethan and obviously Oscar... It was really, how can we continue to grow these characters? And I think a lot of aspects got richer, but Layla/Scarlet Scarab was one of the characters that really grew out of those sessions.
Mohamed, you've spoken before about how much it meant to you to show not just the Ancient Egyptian lore within the Moon Knight canon, but also have the story take place in a modern-day Egypt that many viewers might not get to see on a regular basis. Was that part of the inspiration for the finale fight -- in which Moon Knight and Scarlet Scarab are on the city streets while Amit and Khonshu are fighting on the pyramids?
MD: You don't know what's happening in Egypt. People are dealing with the show as their Black Panther. It's the first time that they feel they're heard. The music, the composer, is Egyptian. There's a lot of Egyptians in every department, a lot of Egyptian actors, and for the first time they see Egypt, [and it's] not just deserts. It looks beautiful at night, it looks beautiful at day.
The first design, was that the whole fight was going to be inside the Chamber of the Gods. But I felt people have to see how beautiful Cairo looks at night. And what if, in that fight at the pyramids, we see Cairo at the same time? I'm glad that Marvel gave us the money to do that and believed in that vision. It was such a pleasure to do that and I'm so proud of that.
What other goals did you have with the series, and what are you most proud of when it comes to the finished product?
MD: My goal was to tell an intimate story. To tell a story about someone who's torn between himself and learning to live with himself. Each one of us has the same thing in a way. Every one of us has a persona, the character that we project to the people and hide our real desires and the shadow of self. All our lives, we try to live with those two sides of ourselves, to make them one, in a way. I really identified with Marc and Steven's journey and I really wanted to make it into a character study.
I'm really happy today. I was talking to Oscar and he said, "This is the project that I'm most proud of in my life." I'm really happy... I was looking for something that completely doesn't betray my DNA in my films, that are very intimate -- to try to find that middle ground between big blockbuster and something intimate. And I think we found that middle ground.
GC: Early on in the writing process, in the writers' room with Jeremy Slater, we looked at the decades of storytelling that is Moon Knight, and it's not like we grabbed one particular issue or one run and said, "We have to do this." Over the decades of stories, what are we most attracted to? It's the Egyptology, the globe-trotting action/adventure, things going bump in the night. The fact that Moon Knight is grittier and spookier than other Marvel IP. The comedy that is in the comic book. The mental illness exploration. It was those things and the fact that, over the decades, the Marvel writers always masterfully kept you guessing from page to page.
Let's admit it. When we started this, Moon Knight was not on the tip of everyone's tongue. But now, I think we've been able to do justice to the decades of writers and artists. And that's what I find cool, because I do think any writer or artist who's worked on Moon Knightover the years can watch our series and see a little bit of themselves in there. And that's pretty cool because it's a great character.
Check out what the cast told ET about the show's fan theories in the video below!
Moon Knight's first season is streaming now on Disney+.