Moon Knight: who is Marvel character played by Oscar Isaac in new Disney+ series - and who is Jake Lockley?

Moon Knight is probably Marvel’s most obscure superhero yet - so what’s his whole deal?

Marvel’s latest television series stars Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight – probably the most obscure comic book character the MCU has ever adapted for screen. While characters like the Hulk or Spider-Man had permeated popular culture before their big screen debut, the same isn’t really true of Moon Knight, who arrives this week essentially as an enigma.

With that in mind, you might be wondering… who actually is Moon Knight? What’s the fictional history of the character (it’s more complex than most), and what’s the real-world publication history of the character? What’s his origin story and who are his big villains? Does he have a side kick?

Here’s everything you need to know about Moon Knight ahead of the character’s Disney+ debut.

Who is Moon Knight?

Moon Knight is a superhero with dissociative identity disorder. This means – in comics that have handled it about as sensitively as you’d imagine – that Moon Knight has different personalities that aren’t always aware of one another. Or, put another way, it means that Moon Knight’s secret identity doesn’t know he’s a superhero.

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Moon Knight’s ‘main’ identity, as it were, is Marc Spector, an American mercenary and former CIA operative. His other primary identities include New York taxi driver Jake Lockley, and the billionaire businessman Steven Grant (who becomes down-on-his-luck museum employee Steven Grant in the Disney+ series, probably to cut off any other Batman comparisons).

In Marvel’s Moon Knight television adaptation, only Marc Spector and Steven Grant appear - for most of the series, that is. There have been a number of hints towards Jake Lockley’s existence, from a locked sarcophagus in Marc’s mind to unexplained violent blackouts; in the final episode, a post-credits scene finally confirms that Jake Lockley is one of Moon Knight’s identities. Unbeknownst to Marc and Steven, who believe they’re finally free of life as Moon Knight, Khonshu has chosen Jake Lockley as his new avatar - meaning Marc and Steven are still somewhere inside Moon Knight.

What’s Moon Knight’s origin story?

After an assignment gone wrong at an archaeological dig in Sudan, Marc Spector is killed – and brought back to life by Khonshu, the ancient Egyptian god of the moon. In return for his life, Khonshu makes Marc his avatar, and tasks him with carrying out acts of vengeance.

There’s often some ambiguity as to whether or not Khonshu and that near-death experience actually happened, or whether Marc has hallucinated it, just a story he uses to justify increasingly violent and volatile actions.

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Marc Spector is also the son of a rabbi, a holocaust survivor called Eli Spector. In certain iterations of Moon Knight’s story, his Judasim is a key theme, and Marc Spector’s difficult relationship with Khonshu is positioned as both a difficult paternal relationship and akin to that of a believer who wants to turn their back on a God they feel abandoned by.

(In other iterations of Moon Knight’s story, he owns a helicopter called the Moon Copter, just to give you a sense of the tonal range these things have.)

Who is Moon Knight’s arch-enemy? Does he have a sidekick?

Usually, Moon Knight’s arch-enemy is Raoul Bushman, another mercenary (in some versions of Moon Knight’s origin, the person who killed Marc Spector in the desert). Other Moon Knight villains include his brother Randall (AKA Shadow Knight) and the Jester (again, doing nothing to beat the Batman imitation allegations).

The Disney+ Moon Knight series features Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) as its antagonist. Harrow is quite a minor character, a doctor specialising in pain research, who appeared in a Moon Knight comic in 1985. The Disney+ series offers a loose adaptation of Harrow, with one major change to his story revealed in Moon Knight’s second episode that makes their relationship more personal - but, obviously, I can’t tell you what that is yet.

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In terms of sidekicks, Moon Knight often works with another mercenary, Jean-Paul “Frenchie” Duchamp (who, yes, has a very stereotypical little pencil mustache). Moon Knight briefly had a teenage sidekick during the 1980s, a pickpocket called Jeffrey Wilde; going by the name Midnight, Jeffrey was essentially Moon Knight’s equivalent to Robin.

Does Dracula really owe Moon Knight money?

A side by side image of a Moon Knight comic panel, one edited and one not (Credit: Mark Bright, Josef Rubinstein, Ken Feduniewicz, and Jack Morelli/Marvel Comics, via Gizmodo)

So, probably the closest thing Moon Knight has had to a pop-culture impact is this meme: a comic panel where Moon Knight insults a vampire and demands his money back. It’s very funny - imagine Oscar Isaac saying this! - but it’s also not actually part of a real comic.

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What’s the real-world publication history of the character?

Moon Knight first appeared as a villain in the 1975 comic Werewolf by Night, with the lunar aesthetic/theme established him as serious threat to that comic’s werewolf hero. Marvel’s editors and writers grew fond of the character, and decided he should appear again, eventually giving Moon Knight a comic of his own in 1980.

It was in 1985 that the dissociative identity disorder idea (inaccurately called schizophrenia) was first introduced, with Moon Knight’s different guises having previously just been disguises he’d use to try and gather information while solving crimes.

Have they ever tried to make a Moon Knight television show or film before?

There’s been some talk about potentially making a Moon Knight film before. James Gunn, director of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, mentioned in 2017 that he’d pitched Marvel producer Kevin Feige a possible Moon Knight movie, but didn’t have the time to make it.

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Previously, there had been plans for Moon Knight to be introduced in Blade: The Series, a 2006 series that spun-off from Wesley Snipes’ Blade movies. Moon Knight’s appearance would’ve acted as a backdoor pilot, with a view to spinning the character off into a series of his own.

Ultimately, though, the Blade series was cancelled before that could happen, and subsequent attempts to make a Moon Knight series unconnected to the Blade show also fizzled out – meaning Moon Knight’s first live-action television appearance will come when Oscar Isaac dons the cowl for Disney+.

When is Moon Knight released? Is it any good?

Moon Knight will begin on Disney+ on Wednesday 30 March, with six new episodes released weekly through to the start of May.

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