Moon Knight Executive Producer Talks MCU Connections And Staying True To Comics [Interview]

This week brings the premiere of the new Marvel Studios series "Moon Knight" on Disney+. Starring Oscar Isaac as an unwitting superhero with dissociative identity disorder, the series is truly unlike anything we've seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before. As our lead character slowly discovers a dangerous alternate personality who has been imbued with the powers of Khonsu, the Egyptian god of the moon, he ends up on a whirlwind adventure full of startling revelations. 

Leading up to the first episode of "Moon Knight" this week, /Film spoke to executive producer Grant Curtis about bringing this unique superhero to life. The series has surprisingly little connective tissues with the rest of the MCU, which afforded the crew a lot of creative freedom. Find out some of the cinematic influences that helped shape "Moon Knight" and more in our full interview with Curtis below.

'We kept the unpredictability that has made this character so popular for decades'

I wanted to start off by finding out what your relationship was with Moon Knight before the opportunity came along to adapt the series.

As a fanboy and as a Marvel employee, I knew the character. I didn't know it to the depth that I know it now, but once this series opportunity came up, I started to read the years and years — and let's be honest, decades — of comics that Moon Knight has appeared in. Man, I couldn't put them down. One of the keywords on the page that we were able to bring to the screen is "unpredictable." I think each one of those pages is unpredictable about what's on the next page, and I think each minute of our series is just as unpredictable. There are lot of aspects that are reflected from the page to the screen, but that's one of the aspects that I'm the most proud of, being able to tell this story with Oscar and Ethan [Hawke] and May [Calamawy] and [directors] Mohamed Diab and [Justin] Benson & [Aaron] Moorhead. We kept the unpredictability that has made this character so popular for decades. It is what people are going to see on Disney+ March 30th, and I think it's one of the things that they're going to be invigorated by. It's unpredictable. You don't know what's going to happen.

Yeah, absolutely. What were some of the cinematic influences on this series? I felt like I got a vibe of "The Mummy" and some of "The Bourne Identity," along with some of that mysticism of "Doctor Strange." But I was curious if there were any other ones that you had in mind while you were shooting.

Hey, you know "Bourne" is a great call out, so is "Indiana Jones," and so is "John Wick." Our character is brutal at times and he kicks a little ass every now and then, so there was that touch point. "Memento," a little clue finding, trying to peel back the layers of what's really going on, was a big influence. I think those four that we just talked about and obviously Bourne, as you brought up, really, really good touch points from which to start the conversation.

'It's more of an opportunity to really tell the best character study possible'

Was there anything that you wanted to steer clear from in this adaptation? I know Mohamed Diab has talked about creating a more authentic portrayal of Egypt and how that culture is depicted in Moon Knight's story. Was there any touchstones that you tried to avoid?

I don't think there's anything we wanted to steer clear of. There's stuff we wanted to lean into, and that's why, when you bring up Mohamed Diab and authenticity, we wanted to be authentic, and we never wanted to be anything less. When you look at how Mohamed Diab came to the table, how did he not come to the table? He's one of Egypt's premier filmmakers, if not its premier filmmaker, and Mohamed Diab's lens is on this story. That's one of the great things about working with him as well. You're in a meeting and Mohamed never has to say, "Oh, time out, let me go do my research." He's like, "Yeah, this is what I live and breathe, so bring it on. Let's keep telling this story." So, again, it wasn't anything we steered away from, we just steered into authenticity at Mohamed's leadership, and I think you see it on the screen.

With a lot of the Marvel TV shows so far, it feels like you really needed prior knowledge about what has happened previously in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Lots of call backs to major story points, character evolution, and whatnot. So far, at least based on the first four episodes we were allowed to see, it seems like "Moon Knight" really stands on its own. Was that a relief for you guys, that you didn't have to figure out a way to intricately connect it to anything that had happened before in the MCU?

It wasn't a relief as much as it was an opportunity narratively, because we talked about the decades of comics that have been published, and all those decades of story, you realized it didn't need to tie into any other aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to tell Marc Spector/Steven Grant/Moon Knight's story. It's more of an opportunity to really tell the best character study possible, and that's [what] we really leaned into. I think that's what gives the sustainability of Marc Spector's story, the fact that we just focused on that character and that character alone.

'I know you're here, Dracula'

There's a comic panel meme, and it's not a real comic panel, but someone took a panel of Moon Knight and changed the speech bubble so he's saying, "I know you're here, Dracula, you big f***ing nerd. Where's my goddamn money?"

Yes, I am actually aware of that. That one's hard to miss.

Did you guys figure out any way to sneak a reference to that into the show, or no?

I can't say whether it snuck into the show or not, but I can tell you this: I am aware of that meme, and that's because it was on the wall in the writers' room and a few other places. There were a lot of fans of that meme as we were making this show.

'There aren't too many corners of the MCU that Moon Knight cannot merge into'

How soon might we see how Moon Knight will connect with the rest of the MCU? Obviously, you can't dig into specific spoilers, but is this something that we'll see by the time the six-episode run is over, or will it be something that is more of a long game?

It's a great question for Kevin Feige, as you can imagine. But what I can tell you, and what you've probably experienced from seeing the episodes that you have seen, there are so many different aspects to this show, whether it is the previously mentioned character study, whether it is that globe trotting action adventure, whether it's the comedy. I think there aren't too many corners of the MCU that Moon Knight cannot merge into. So honestly, I got to tell you, as a fanboy, I'm excited to see where this guy lands.

If there's one other character besides Moon Knight that you would love to get your hands on to be able to either produce a movie or a TV show for, which would it be?

Oh man, oh man. What a good question. I got to tell you, not to sound corny, but having the opportunity to work on Spider-Man and to meet Stan Lee, and then working with the incredible Sam Raimi and Tobey [Maguire] and Kirsten [Dunst] and James Franco and Willem Dafoe, I mean, I could keep going on and on. Also, to be on the flip side of that in my career and work with the incredible Kevin Feige and [Marvel producers] Louis D'Esposito and Victoria Alonso and Brad Winderbaum, I gotta tell you, I think I hit the lottery in two different — I don't want to say decades, because my career with Sam was already a couple decades, and now I'm at the start of my career with Marvel. I got lucky twice. Lightning struck twice, so I can't say that there's another character out there. I've just been lucky and blessed with Moon Knight and Spider-Man.

"Moon Knight" premieres on Disney+ starting on March 30, 2022 with new episodes arriving on Wednesdays in the following weeks.