Moon Knight director Mohamed Diab on the season finale, the return of Oscar Isaac, and the MCU’s first Egyptian superhero

WARNING, SPOILER: This story discusses the main plot points of Moon Knight Season 1 Episode 6, currently streaming on Disney+.

It was clear throughout Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight that the titular superhero at its center, played by Oscar Isaac, was battling serious mental health issues. Namely, his dissociative identity disorder split his psyche into two people: Mark Spector, a tough American mercenary, and Stephen Grant, a mild-mannered British gift shop worker.

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However, savvy Moon Knight viewers have picked up hints of Mark that Marvel comics fans already know: in Mark’s mind lurks third personality. And in the final scene of the (probably) final episode of Moon Knight, viewers finally meet him: Jake Lockley. In the comics, Jake is a street cab driver, but in the series, viewers begin to suspect – after either Mark or Steven is knocked unconscious when their lives were in mortal danger – that Jake is capable of committing acts of overwhelming violence. However, Jake only finally appears in a post-credits scene. He retrieves Arthur Harrow Ethan Hawke from the mental hospital, throws him into a limousine, and kills him on behalf of the Egyptian god Khonshu. End of series!

Or that? Marvel recently called this episode the “season finale” of Moon Knight rather than the series finale. In addition to introducing Jake, we also see Mark’s wife Layla (Mae Kalamawi) becoming a superhero in her own right, as an avatar of the Egyptian goddess Taweret. According to Marvel, Layla’s superhero name is the Scarlet Scarab, taken from a male superhero introduced in 1977 (and killed off in 1982), and she is officially the first Egyptian superhero to occupy the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

All of this suggests a bright future for Mark/Steven/Jake and Layla – something that Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, who directed the first, third, fifth and sixth episodes of Moon Knight, definitely hopes to help make happen. He spoke with Diversity about bringing Jake to life, why it was so important for Layla to become a superhero, and why he’s proud that Moon Knight has no crossovers with the rest of the MCU.

Did you know you wanted to end the show by introducing Jake Lockley?

Everything you see on the show is trial and error, a process that we’ve all gone through. There were so many endings – like, not really different endings, just let’s stop here, let’s stop here, let’s stop here. I think maybe on the third or fourth draft everyone knew that this was going to be the very last scene. But how much Jake we see is something we’ve been discussing for a long time. I think we made the best decision. Everyone wants to know more about Jake. But if we introduced him to the show without giving him time to develop and become a full-fledged character, like Mark and Steven, it would not be fair to him. I think now we’ve opened the door. If one day there is an expansion – and I hope there is one that I don’t know about – I might be a part of it and Jake will have time to shine.

Well, Oscar Isaac has been candid about how he approached Moon Knight as a closed story and that he was wary of being tied to the MCU outside of it given his experience with other franchises. But the scene with Jake certainly suggests there’s more to tell.

If you ask me, I would say Moon Knight is here to stay. He is an interesting character. If you’re Marvel, I think the smart business decision is to leave him. The only thing is that Marvel isn’t traditional. If you succeed, it does not mean that you will get a second season. By the way, I’m ignorant. I have no idea. I just think like a businessman now. But I think they will stay. Maybe it will be a movie. Maybe it will be a journey similar to what happened with WandaVision. I want that one day, if there is an expansion, I would be a part of it. We ended like it was the beginning. You see how Mark and Steven take on a new dynamic, they are two in the same body. We see Jake. You see the Scarlet Scarab, which may or may not be a superhero. Very interesting things.

The series plays with the idea that it’s all in Mark’s head. Do you feel like the show is ending with a definitive answer to that question?

My answer: this is a show that needs to be watched once, twice, and three times. There are so many clues out there. It is not clear what is real and what is not. For example, we saw his brother draw a fish. So, if this is real, then why did Steven also have a single-finned fish? What inspired you? This is a loop. And I think a lot of the clues are like that.

Have you discussed the idea that the show has to exist only in Mark’s head for it to really feel like a superhero story?

I always wanted it to be open. It’s funny: I’ve always told Kevin Feige that I want to end when we discover that the entire MCU is in his head. So it’s an open question.

You also introduce Layla as the Scarlet Scarab in the finale. How did it happen?

First of all, I want to thank the writers who came up with Leyla as an Egyptian. When Sarah [Goher], my wife and producer on the show and I came together, we helped develop the character as Egyptians. When Mei came along, she became Layla’s biggest ally. The most important thing for us was not just the idea of ​​a superhero, but the idea of ​​making her the exact opposite of all ideas about an Arab woman as submissive or weak. I have made three films: the women in my films are completely violent and strong – like my mother, my sister, my wife and my daughter.

As superheroes, we knew this would be a historic event. My daughter, when she was five years old, wanted to straighten her hair. I had to take her to Disneyland and tell Princesses Elsa and Anna, “Please tell her she has beautiful hair.” She had never seen anything like her on TV. So today, when you see Leila, you don’t know what it means to people like us. It is very important. “Moon Knight” becomes the national pride of Egypt. People refer to him as the Egyptian Black Panther. They like that Egyptians are behind the camera; Egyptians in front of the camera. There is Egyptian music that the world enjoys. They believe in themselves. They believe they can do anything right now. I’m so proud of it.

Did you always know that Layla would be the Scarlet Scarab, or did you consider other possible Egyptian-born characters that she could be?

To be honest, I didn’t come up with the name. I didn’t connect her to the Scarlet Scarab. Sometimes Marvel chooses a name and then gives it to a character that is being developed. [for the show]. Like, Arthur Harrow is absolutely nothing like Arthur Harrow from the comics. We are just using the property. So, we create Layla without all this, and then we give her a name. I keep saying that she might not be the Scarlet Scarab. Because right now, she didn’t get her powers through the scarab. But maybe if the story continues, it will happen – or not. So the name doesn’t matter to me. What she represents is more important. I can’t wait to find out one day, will she still be a temporary avatar? Is she going to accept it? What will happen to her? I don’t know.

Looks like it is, but I’m going to ask you directly: Would you like to work with Marvel Studios again?

I would pay to do this. Definitely. I wanted to become a director because I have stories that I want to share with as many people as possible. I have always made intimate films. My dream is to do what Denis Villeneuve did – to shoot my intimate little films on a larger scale so that you connect with more people. Thank God I had the opportunity to do it on this show. I still feel like it has the DNA of my films, small intimate films. I had allies like Oscar, Ethan, May and Marvel who supported me in this.

There are only a couple of very slippery references to the MCU in Moon Knight, and there are no crossovers at all – right up to the post-credits scene, where crossovers almost always happen. How do you feel about what this means about the show’s place in the MCU?

We had the freedom to place it at any time. I want to tell you that in the very first scene there was a transition, and in the very final scene there was a transition. But as the story progressed and we kept changing scripts, we felt like, “We don’t need this.” All of us. It was a collective decision. And then I kept thinking: this is the rule. There should be a scene at the end that connects us to the MCU. But I think they thought, “You know what, the surprise is that there not, and what makes this show unique is that it doesn’t need anything else.” The best compliment we get on a show is when people tell us, “This doesn’t feel like a Marvel show. It’s like a standalone show that feels more dramatic, darker, more down to earth.” I feel like we’ve managed to get Marvel more on our side. So proud and happy.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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