Moon Knight's Director Shares Personal Experience Of Bringing 'Historic' First Egyptian Superhero To The MCU

May Calamawy as Layla El-Faouly in Moon Knight series
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Warning: SPOILERS for the Moon Knight episode “Gods and Monsters” are ahead!

While Oscar Isaac’s Marc Spector/Steven Grant were the main attraction in the Moon Knight series, its finale, a.k.a. “Gods and Monsters,” brought a new superhero into the mix. As a result of a temporary pact made with Taweret, the hippo-headed Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility, May Calamawy’s Layla El-Faouly got her own superhero look and abilities, and it’s since been clarified that May became the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Scarlet Scarab. Mohamed Diab, who directed “Gods and Monsters” (as well as the Moon Knight premiere and two other episodes) spoke with CinemaBlend about why it was such a big deal for him being able to bring in the MCU’s “historic” first Egyptian superhero.

In order to stop Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow and Ammit, Layla El-Faouly agreed to serve as Taweret’s avatar for a brief period so that she and Marc Spector/Steven Grant, who’d come back to life and re-bonded with Khonshu, could bind Ammit to Harrow’s body. You can see how they specifically emerged victorious by watching the Moon Knight finale with a Disney+ subscription, and among the things I asked Mohamed Diab during our interview was how it felt bringing Egyptian representation to the MCU’s superhero lineup. He shared his feelings with the following:

I had goosebumps, me and May [Calamawy] knew that this is going to be a historic moment. I’m gonna tell you a small story about my daughter. She was five, she always wanted to straighten her hair, and that’s because she never saw herself in animation. She always saw straight hair. And I feel now, you don’t know how big this is, seeing someone as beautiful as Layla with her beautiful, curly hair, being a superhero, being a kick-ass character and very strong. You don’t know how Egyptians are dealing with the show, they’re dealing with it as a national pride, as their own Black Panther. Not just because of Layla, but because of how Egypt is portrayed. How it’s not just the desert, how our music is shared and how the world is seeing. How, that being the camera and in front of the camera, there are Egyptians and they’re doing a good job. I’m so happy that Egyptians, Middle Easterners, South Asians, feel that they’re presented, and feel that they’re part of the world and feel that they matter.

In the original Marvel Comics source material, there are two individuals who held the Scarlet Scarab mantle: Dr. Abdul Faoul, an archaeologist who was empowered by the Ruby Scarab during World War II and used his powers to protect Egypt and fight alongside the Invaders, and Faoul’s son Mehemet, who continued his late father’s search for the Scarab following its disappearance in the 1950s and eventually found it. Now the MCU has put its own spin on Scarlet Scarab through Layla El-Faouly in Moon Knight, and Mohamed Diab was excited to level up the character not just as a way to give his daughter someone who looked like her in fictional media, but also, as he put it, to give Egyptian fans of this superhero franchise a protagonist to root for akin to how Black Panther is viewed by Black fans across the world.

May Calamawy’s Layla El-Faouly wearing Scarlet Scarab costume in Moon Knight series

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Furthermore, Mohamed Diab noted how Moon Knight as a whole has been well received by Egyptian viewers thanks to how their culture has shined in the Disney+ series and all the people who’ve worked on the show. As far as Scarlet Scarab goes, even though Layla El-Faouly only agreed to work with Taweret for a limited time, assuming Moon Knight Season 2 happens (right now, it’s unclear if that’s even on the table), it’s a good bet that the creative minds in charge will find a way to turn her back into a superhero. After all, with Jake Lockley having entered the picture in the Moon Knight finale’s game-changing end-credits scene, not to mention the possibility that more monsters like those invisible jackal freaks could emerge, it would surely become necessary for Scarlet Scarab to be thrown back into action, right?

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more Moon Knight coverage and news concerning upcoming Marvel TV shows. For those interested in something new to check out now that Moon Knight is finished, head to our 2022 TV schedule to see what other programming looks appealing.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.