Moon Knight Theory Explains Who Killed Layla’s Father

One of the central mysteries of Marvel's Moon Knight may also unlock another of the show's unanswered questions.

Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant and May Calamawy as Layla in Marvel's Moon Knight Episode 4
Photo: Marvel Studios

This article contains Moon Knight spoilers.

There is a LOT going on in Moon Knight episode 4. The final few minutes include our title character seemingly dying, only to shift gears into a dreamlike reality that paints the events of the show as the delusions of a sick man. Then it gets even weirder and ends with a hell of a cliffhanger.

But those surreal final moments distract from one of the big subplots introduced in the past couple of episodes: what happened to Layla’s father? In fact, the question is really a thread that makes us wonder about Marc’s origins because we’re 2/3 into the series and still only have vague descriptions of how Moon Knight came to be. It’s a curious situation, as it roughly syncs up with a comic fan’s knowledge of Moon Knight’s origin, but even then, there’s definitely more than meets the eye.

Moon Knight’s Marvel Comics Origin

Though Moon Knight appeared several times in Marvel Comics before getting his own solo series, it wasn’t until Moon Knight #1 that we saw his actual origin story. Marc Spector was a mercenary working under the brutal leadership of Raoul Bushman. Hailing from the fictional African nation of Burunda, Bushman was a sadist who was so into murder and inflicting terror that he tattooed a skull over his face and replaced his teeth with metal. He and his people were working on a mission on the border of Sudan and Egypt, but Bushman became sidetracked by the possibility of stealing some gold.

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Dr. Peter Alraune attempted to stop Bushman and stab him in the back. Marc saved Bushman’s life by telling him to watch out. Marc then watched in horror as Bushman chomped Alraune’s throat out. Marc found Alraune’s daughter Marlene (Layla’s comic counterpart) and insisted she escape. Marlene accused Marc of killing her father and he initially accepted responsibility just so he could cut down on the arguments and scare her off.

Bushman had his men open fire on some civilians for the sake of cutting out witnesses and resistance. A disgusted Marc attacked him and was beaten down for his efforts. Exiled, Marc wandered the desert until he collapsed. He was discovered by some hooded men stationed in a pharaoh’s tomb. Marlene was there and felt guilty for taking pleasure in seeing the man she thought killed her father dead.

Marc awoke in front of a statue of Khonshu, fully healed and having some innate knowledge of what Khonshu represented. He dressed in a white cloak, tracked down Bushman, and kicked his ass. All the while, Marlene finally understood that Bushman was the one behind her father’s murder.

What Do We Know of Moon Knight’s MCU Origin?

Details are a bit scattershot, but they do line up with the comic version so far. Marc Spector was working with a “partner” who became greedy and that turned to violence. Layla’s father was a victim of that violence. He wasn’t the only one, as a group of archeologists were all slaughtered. Somehow, this incident led to Marc becoming the avatar of Khonshu, God of the Moon.

According to the records read by Arthur Harrow’s people, Marc was given official blame for all the dead archeologists. When Harrow himself tried to judge Marc/Steven, he did see that Marc was responsible for Layla’s father’s death and Marc had kept that information from her. Marc claims that he was indeed there, but he was powerless to stop the death. He sought out Layla afterwards, could not bring himself to explain his involvement, and ended up marrying her down the line.

Will Bushman Appear in Moon Knight?

Based on the original comic and the vague references on the show, it seems like a slam dunk, right? Bushman killed Layla’s father.

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Well…probably not.

Head writer and executive producer Jeremy Slater was asked on Twitter about the show’s use of Arthur Harrow. For those who don’t know, Harrow only appeared in a forgettable single issue of Moon Knight’s comic back in the mid-1980s and not only did he do little of note, but he was completely different from Ethan Hawke’s portrayal. The question, which interestingly did NOT mention Bushman by name, asked why they went with Harrow instead of any other Moon Knight villain.

“Because his only recognizable villain was Bushman, who just felt too close to Black Panther’s Erik Killmonger. So we decided to invent a villain instead.”

Considering we live in a world where Andrew Garfield kept insisting he wasn’t going to be in Spider-Man: No Way Home, take this quote how you will. Still, if you take Slater at his word, then they certainly aren’t going to throw Bushman into the story so late in the game.

So, then…who was Marc Spector’s partner?

Did Jake Lockley Kill Layla’s Father?

Hinted in the first couple episodes and made apparent in the third, Marc and Steven aren’t the only personalities living in that body. There is a third, seemingly more violent personality in the mix. While we haven’t seen him in action just yet, fans label this third personality “Jake” since Jake Lockley is a third Moon Knight identity/personality from the comics who has yet to show up onscreen. Based on the third episode, when neither Steven nor Marc would take responsibility for lethally dispatching some of Harrow’s goons, he has no qualms about killing.

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The ending of episode four hints even more strongly that a third, suppressed personality is violent and unstable. When Steven was locked inside a sarcophagus inside the apparent “asylum,” the pounding inside sounded more panicked and scared. Marc set him free. But we also see a second sarcophagus, from which the pounding seems more volatile and violent. Marc chose to keep him locked up.

Jake may not only be the third personality, but also the show’s counterpart to Bushman. He’s likely the one who killed Layla’s father. He’s the one who killed those other archeologists. That’s why Marc gets blamed. That’s why Marc both claims he wasn’t responsible, while at the same time feeling tremendous guilt. For all we know, Steven might have been a late creation, built by Marc’s psyche as a complete opposite of the man he’s afraid to see in the mirror, while Jake is the monster that Steven believes Marc to be.

Then again, we do know that Frenchie exists in some form and he was Marc’s mercenary partner in the comics. Maybe he can shed some light on the situation.

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