The latest teaser for Marvel’s Moon Knight has plenty of exciting action shots and hints of mystery. We get to see Oscar Isaac playing both desert-bound mercenary Marc Spector and timid English shopkeeper Steven Grant, but you may have noticed that the show seems a little scarier than your average MCU offering!
Not only does Ethan Hawke’s cult leader Arthur Harrow give off creepy vibes, but the teaser is filled with jump scares. There’s even a menacing, skeletal creature sure to be the Egyptian god Khonshu, who resurrects Spector and makes him his earthly agent.
Really, the tone shouldn’t be too much of a surprise because Moon Knight has his roots in horror. The character first appeared in Werewolf by Night #32 (1975) as a bounty hunter sent to capture the lycanthropic Jack T. Russell. Writer Doug Moench, who co-created Moon Knight with artist Don Perlin, has a long history of working on horror comics. He wrote everything from Marvel’s Godzilla series and the company’s anthology comic Eerie to the Batman-as-vampire story Red Rain. For Moon Knight’s first solo series, penciller Bill Sienkiewicz joined Moench, who would later illustrate the terrifying “Demon Bear Saga” in New Mutants.
To bring that tone to live-action, Marvel hired indie horror filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead to direct two episodes of the series (the last four are directed by Egyptian filmmaker Mohamed Diab). Benson and Moorhead built their reputation with supernatural character studies such as Spring and The Endless.
“They really compliment each other,” Benson told The Playlist of the he and Moorhead’s horror films, their work on Moon Knight, and the Netflix series Archive 81. Moorhead went on to assure readers that Moon Knight has much in common with their previous films. “It’s stuff that’s kind of like what we already do,” he explained.
Of course, Benson and Moorhead aren’t the first or last horror filmmakers to come to the MCU. 2016’s Doctor Strange was directed by Scott Derrickson and co-written by C. Robert Cargill, who collaborated on Sinister and The Black Phone. This May’s Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness promises not only to be a return to superheroes for director Sam Raimi, whose Spider-Man films of the 2000s remain a gold-standard in the genre, but also a chance for the director to play with the supernatural themes he explored in movies such as Evil Dead and Drag Me to Hell.
If Moon Knight does go full horror, it will move the MCU on a path that it has already started to walk down. In addition to the supernatural elements introduced in Doctor Strange, WandaVision ended with the first franchise appearance of the demonic book known as the Darkhold. There are also rumblings of a Werewolf by Night Halloween special starring Gael García Bernal, and a Blade reboot starring Mahershala Ali is fully in the works.
We’ll finally get to see just how scary Moon Knight is willing to be when the show premieres on March 30.