Marvel’s upcoming series “Moon Knight” features four of six episodes directed by Mohamed Diab, the Egyptian screenwriter and filmmaker best known for his feature directorial debut “Cairo 678” and his 2021 Venice world premiere “Amira.” The Marvel series incorporates elements of Ancient Egyptian mythology in telling the story of Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac), a mercenary who becomes the conduit of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu. It was of utmost importance for Diab that the series did right by Egyptian representation.
“In my pitch, there was a big part about Egypt, and how inauthentically it has been portrayed throughout Hollywood’s history,” Diab recently told SFX Magazine. “It’s always exotic – we call it orientalism. It dehumanizes us. We are always naked, we are always sexy, we are always bad, we are always over the top.”
Diab pointed to “Wonder Woman 1984” as a recent example of Hollywood failing Egypt. The Patty Jenkins-directed sequel ignited backlash upon release in December 2020 due to a storyline set in Egypt that many viewers accused of indulging in racist stereotypes.
“You never see Cairo,” Diab said. “You always see Jordan shot for Cairo, Morocco shot for Cairo, sometimes Spain shot for Cairo. This really angers us. I remember seeing ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ and there was a big sequence in Egypt and it was a disgrace for us. You had a sheik – that doesn’t make any sense to us. Egypt looked like a country from the Middle Ages. It looked like the desert.”
Diab said the relationship between “Moon Knight” and Egypt is “part of the show because it’s part of the comic book. It’s part of how he gets his powers. It’s ingrained in it.”
“There was definitely room to play [in ‘Moon Knight’] but keep it as authentic as possible, in the realm of being fantastical,” Diab added about representing Egypt with respect and accuracy. “Even in the original comic books they did a great job of researching and trying to make Egypt authentic.”
“Moon Knight” debuts March 30 on Disney Plus.