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Interview: Marvel’s ‘Moon Knight’ Creator Jeremy Slater On the Show’s ‘Weird and Ambitious Main Character

Awards Radar’s The ‘Verse! Squad recently spoke with Jeremy Slater, writer and creator of Marvel’s Moon Knight on Disney+. Listeners know how excited we were for the opportunity since Moon Knight is unanimously considered by the to be one of the most ambitious of Marvel’s series to date.

What separated Moon Knight from the pack? The character focused approach to Steven & Marc (wonderfully played by Oscar Isaac), the adventure/horror genre mashup, the unique setting of London & Cairo, the Egyptian hip hop music. Moon Knight constantly surprised us with its originality in a cinematic Universe that seems to consistently expand in new and novel ways.

We spoke with Slater (listen to the full interview above) about the show, his career, and of course – similar to all super heroes – his origin story. Raised as a “military brat,” Jeremy moved constantly, living in more than 20 different places by the time he was 14. The one constant? 

Jeremy Slater: Every military base had the same spinner rack and they had like the same six Marvel Comics. They were the classic X Men reprints of the Claremont run, like the greatest intro to any comic books that anyone could ever ask for. And they had The Amazing Spider Man and Fantastic Four. I would buy the Marvel trading card sets that have all the cool characters. I’ve been a Marvel comic fan for as long as I can read.

How did Slater get involved with Moon Knight?

Jeremy Slater: I’ve desperately been trying to get into Marvel camp, basically, as long as the MCU has existed. I think I had my first meeting with Kevin Feige when they were in production on Captain America The First Avenger. So way back in the day. They only had like five or six characters in their stable that they actually own the rights to in those early days, if you remember, so it was kind of like, you would come in and be like, Yeah, can you do anything with Powerpack? Every time I got called in it was for characters that like I wasn’t necessarily passionate about. But after I had come off the exorcist show that I did for Fox, and was right around the time they made the announcement that they were going to start developing stuff for Disney+, and I was like, please just get me in the room like, this is my dream. So they kind of gave me a list of like, here’s four or five characters that that Kevin is currently like exploring, like doing as a TV show. And Moon Knight was obviously on that list. And he was immediately the one I sort of gravitated towards. I really had free rein to kind of pitch anything I want. I must have done something right, because I got the job And also, coming from a horror background. I knew Moon Knight, I probably had a better shot just because of my experience.

One of Marvel’s greatest assets is their enormous catalogue of literally hundreds of characters with their own complex back stories, relationships and history. So why Moon Knight?

Jeremy Slater: I liked the fact that it was a completely unknown character to probably 95% of Marvel fans obviously, which is a huge luxury, because if you’re doing a Hawkeye show you have to pay homage to everything that came before, you’re inheriting someone else’s stories, and all the baggage that comes with that; good and bad. I felt like Moon Knight was a chance to a have a have a really fresh start. But also, it was such a weird, ambitious character. I knew that they that Kevin was going to respond really positively because because he’s always looking for ways to expand the MCU. And, and he’s always asking how do we not repeat ourselves? How do we not do something that we’ve already done before or the competitors have already done before? And what can we bring to the MCU that our fans have never seen before. So I was like Moon Knight ticks all these boxes. And I am since I’ve got a horror background, and this guy is so sort of tied into the sort of monster side of the MCU. I’m like I think I’ve got a real shot at this one. If it doesn’t happen here. It’s never happening, essentially.

Unlike End Game or Guardians of the Galaxy that have wall-to-wall outrageous action set pieces and enormous world shattering events that are the hallmark of the MCU, Moon Knight eschewed that approach for a more intimate character study, using the alter-ego trope as an exploration of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and trauma.

Jeremy Slater: Kevin was really excited by the fact that in TV shows they can do things that you can’t in a movie in 110 minute movie, a lot of the weird edges, a lot of the detours and the character moments gets sanded down because it’s all about the MacGuffin fight. It’s all about the villain battle in the third act. And so he knew that the, the greatest thing that the TV shows give us is the opportunity to spend time with the characters. And so there was a constant, not a push back, but a constant reminder coming from Marvel of like, ‘it’s okay to just have characters talking to each other’, or a character talking to himself for three or four or five or six pages, which you would almost never see in a script for a traditional Marvel movie. So it gave us a lot of freedom. But at the same time, you really did feel that pressure of knowing like ‘oh, if we fuck this up, if we get this wrong, there are genuine ramifications.

You want the people who see this to feel seen and empowered and feel like it’s made their lives better in some way and not attacked or persecuted. You know, a movie like Split is very divisive in the DID community because it falls into the ‘evil altars’ trope and it sort of fantasizes them and exoticism them, and for us, it was very important to like, how do we avoid some of those traditional pitfalls? How do we make something that is still telling a really fun engaging story, but at the same time, is realistic in its in its depiction of mental health? Marvel was actually really great about providing us as many resources as possible. So we had a mental health specialist, Dr. Paul Pirie, who would come in to advise us on the mental health. We had a Jewish rabbi to advise us about that. We had an Egyptian archaeologist who would who would chime in for some of those facts. I did a lot of my own research and a lot of my own reading. But Marvel was always there to sort of provide guidance whenever we needed it and make sure we didn’t kind of stray too far off the path.

The setting of Cairo makes its first appearance in the MCU, along with Egyptian Gods, pyramids, mummies and lots of scares and thrills reminiscent of 90s blockbusters like The Mummy.

Jeremy Slater: I think the Egyptology aspect was was in there from the very beginning because that was one of the things we knew Kevin Feige responded to. He liked the idea that you could be on a bus and look out the window and see a giant Egyptian bird skeleton, standing on the street corner, which I think is a panel from a Jeff Lumiere run that we just stole pretty directly for episode two. So we always knew that the Egyptology was going to be important and and I had kind of pitched the show as like, everyone’s expecting Batman, everyone thinks we’re doing Batman, let’s do Raiders of the Lost Ark. Let’s do that. Let’s do Ghostbusters, let’s do an 80s Amblin movie to some extent. So once we knew that, and Kevin was really responsive to that, and thought that was a fun idea. And so once we knew that it was going to be a sort of globe trotting, treasure hunt of a show, it felt very obvious that Egypt has to be our ultimate location that has to be where we’re going. And so that was definitely baked into our concept from the beginning. Hiring of Mohammed Diab (Director) and all of the the Egyptian composers and, and the crew members that he brought on board, I think really lent it an air of accuracy that it definitely wouldn’t have had otherwise. That we’re very passionate about.

Slater’s innovative work should be recognized, as should Oscar Isaac’s dual performance as Steve/Marc. If you have not already done so, learn what all the buzz is about and check out Moon Knight. The series is available in its entirety on Disney+.

For much more insight into Slater’s work and the person behind the series, listen to the full interview with Jeremy Slater.


Subscribe to The’ Verse! podcast for more industry interviews, reviews, commentary, news and discussions about your favorite cinematic universes.

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Written by lukonianlogic

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