Moon Knight's Director Shares The Filmmaking Legends Who Influenced His Visual Style

With Marvel's "Moon Knight" just around the corner, /Film sat down for an interview with one of the directors behind the latest Disney+ series. Mohamed Diab spoke with us about what it was like to make the highly anticipated Oscar Isaac-led series, and along the way, he also revealed some of his major filmmaking influences.

Diab credits May Calamawy, who plays Layla in the show, for the standard pitch that he uses to explain "Moon Knight" — she calls it "'Indiana Jones' meets 'Fight Club.'" For anyone who's seen the show's trailer, it should come as no surprise that "Fight Club" is a standard part of the "Moon Knight" elevator pitch. David Fincher's take on Chuck Palahniuk's novel follows an unnamed narrator (Edward Norton) who has trouble sleeping, a detail that turns out to hint at a major plot twist later on. Similarly, trailers show Isaac's Steven say has "a sleeping disorder," one he apparently needs to treat by chaining himself to his bed.

It's no secret by now that "Moon Knight" deals with Steven's Dissociative Identity Disorder, a rare psychological condition in which people develop multiple distinctive personalities. It's a kindred spirit with "Fight Club," but the "Indiana Jones" comparison appears to be an apt one, too. The show's Super Bowl promo revealed plenty of archeological adventuring as Isaac's character explores his connection with ancient Egypt. There's no sign of a deadly rolling boulder, but viewers can catch glimpses of tomb-like settings and a pyramid shooting out purple rays of light.

Marvel by way of world cinema

Aside from the more obvious comparisons, Diab says that he loves "grounded cinema," particularly the works of Mexican and Iranian filmmakers that he says were integral to shaping his visual style. When asked about specifics, Diab further explained:

"I'm just going to talk about modern people, like Asghar Farhadi. I love Asghar Farhadi. [Abbas] Kiarostami is like a legend. These are the Iranians. And definitely the trio: [Alejandro Gonzalez] Iñarritu, [Alfonso] Cuarón, and [Guillermo] del Toro. I love those three. For modern cinema, I think they're all legends."

It's extremely exciting to hear that world cinema is influential to a tentpole project like this one, since so many superhero projects these days seem to only be drawing from one another. Diab's well of filmmaking influences clearly runs deep and expands beyond the borders of the American superhero subgenre. Farhadi's best-known works, like "A Hero" and the Oscar-winning drama "A Separation," dig deep into their characters to reveal nuanced emotions. He and "Close-Up" filmmaker Kiarostami both present works that are rooted in their cultural and political moments, all of which comes through via their striking visuals. Meanwhile, the trio of Mexican filmmakers Diab references each present profound and dynamic visions of Mexico and beyond.

All of this bodes well for "Moon Knight," which has the chance to be one of the edgier projects to come from within the modern, Marvel-centric studio system in recent years. Diab has also recently spoken about trying to untangle decades of exoticized portrayals of Egypt, and make "Moon Knight as "authentic as possible, [while] in the realm of being fantastical."

"Moon Knight" premieres on Disney+ March 30, 2022.