Marvel’s ‘Moon Knight’ leads to representation issues for the entertainment giant

Photo credit: Julia Monteiro Martins

After the breakneck pace of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) 2021 release schedule which included nine total releases, the entertainment giant is back after a brief — three whole months — hiatus.

“Moon Knight” stars Oscar Isaac, hoping for a better second attempt at Marvel stardom than his first in “X-Men: Apocalypse.” Fortunately for the “Scenes From A Marriage” star, the MCU has a more unique role to offer in the new Disney+ series.

Photo credit: Julia Monteiro Martins

Created as MCU’s answer to Batman, except with an Egyptian deity talking to him as motivation instead of dead parents, Moon Knight is a character fans wanted to see adapted for years.

Marc Spector has more that makes him compelling than being a less popular Bruce Wayne, Isaac will be playing one of the only heroes with an identity disorder.

Isaac will get to portray one of the few positive representations of the condition in pop culture and how the condition impacts the story of “Moon Knight” will be one of the story’s key plots. There will be a great deal of pressure on Isaac and Marvel to pull this off without the portrayal feeling disrespectful and with good reason.

While qualified, casting Isaac did not come without controversy.

The original Marvel comic “Moon Knight” depicts the character as Jewish, which Isaac is not. This is not the first time MCU has faced controversy over this issue, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch had a similar issue where Judaism was removed entirely from her character.

“As a huge Marvel fan myself, I was quite disappointed to hear that the character’s Jewish identity was seemingly erased from the narrative,” said Lea Cohen, a senior in finance and marketing. Cohen is also a long-time member of the campus group Chabad, which brings warmth and community to UM’s Jewish population.

“The Jewish story has been redacted by studios for years.,” Cohen said. “Unless it is a story surrounding a particularly Jewish plotline or is used to further promote Jewish stereotypes, most of Hollywood has no interest in making a character, what I like to call, ‘casually Jewish.’”

The specifics of whether or not Isaac’s character will be Jewish is still unknown. The idea was partially ignored in favor of embracing the show’s Egyptian aesthetic, but head writer Jeremy Slater recently tweeted how maintaining that faith was important.

“We’ve seen many characters within the MCU have a strong identification with and pride in their cultural background, such as the Black Panther, the Eternals, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Cohen said. “If Marvel is hoping to push the momentum forward by embracing new characters that tell the story of those around the world, they clearly [wouldn’t be] showing it by erasing the Jewish heritage of one of its characters, especially in front of such a large audience through Disney+.”

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The first entry of another busy year in the MCU, “Moon Knight” is also the first project released following Marvel regaining their Netflix catalog, and the post-Robert Downey Jr. MCU laid the foundation for a darker universe. “Loki” and “Wandavision” both explore more serious plotlines than past releases and “Moon Knight” continues to darken the light in the MCU in preparation for May’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

With more violent characters such as Blade and Deadpool having films in the works and reboots of at least one of the Netflix series, “Moon Knight” seems like the beginning of a long-term shift.

“Moon Knight” is billed by Marvel as their most standalone project in years, but all lines must cross in the MCU eventually.

In a recent interview, Isaac discussed his hopes to join fellow members of Marvel’s underground Daredevil, Blade, Ghost Rider and the Punisher. With Mahershala Ali’s Blade and Charlie Cox’s Daredevil already entering the MCU vortex, Isaac’s hope of a teamup may already be on Marvel’s calendar.

With the first episode airing on March 30 to praise from both critics and audiences alike, the MCU’s entry into madness should continue to be a fascinating watch.