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Why Moon Knight Episode 2’s Jackal Fight Was So Difficult To Shoot, According To The Cinematographer

Although we got our first official taste of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Moon Knight at the end of his Disney+ series’ debut episode, a.k.a. “The Goldfish Problem,” it was in the following episode, “Summon the Suit,” that we not only got to see more of Marc Spector in action as Moon Knight, but also see Steven Grant inadvertently conjure his Mr. Knight costume. This came about while Steven and Marc’s wife Layla were being pursued by a jackal creature sent by Arthur Harrow, and making matters more complicated, Marc/Steven were the only ones who could see this creature. That resulted in Moon Knight Episode 2’s fight sequence being particularly difficult to shoot, as I learned while interviewing one of the Marvel TV show’s behind-the-scenes talents.

I recently spoke with Andrew Droz Palermo, the cinematographer on Moon Knight Episodes 2 and 4 (the latter titled “The Tomb”), and among the topics I brought up during the conversation was if there were any unexpected challenges or obstacles he ran into when shooting the Marc/Steve vs. kind-of-invisible jackal creature fight in “Summon the Suit.” He responded:

That sequence is unique in that at least that fight starts with an invisible force. And how to shoot something where people are fighting an invisible jackal was a real challenge, and knowing that you’re framing for the people, you’re not framing for the seven-foot-tall jackal that’s eventually not even going to be there, so it was a challenge to figure out how do we shoot it and how do we make it feel unique. It was always a constant reminder from Aaron [Moorhead] and Justin [Benson], my directors, that it’s going to be best when we hold our frames and we can see these people fighting an invisible force as wide as we can be. And there’s a great shot where Steven is pushed up against a car and [Layla] is pushed up against a wall at one side, and there’s just nothing in between them, and I really loved that moment, and that was a fun one to crack, because I’ve shot action sequences, but I’ve never shot action sequences with an invisible force before. 

So it wasn’t just a matter of shooting Oscar Isaac and May Calamawy fighting this jackal creature in the same manner you would shoot any scene involving a scene player that will later be fully realized by the visual effects team. Because the jackal was invisible to all but Marc/Steven, Andrew Droz Palermo and his team had to not only ensure they were framing specifically for Isaac and Calamawy, but also set up the camera angles in a way that made it clear this monstrosity was in the area wreaking havoc. Talk about having to think multiple steps ahead, even by TV and filmmaking standards!

While Steven managed to land a solid punch on the jackal creature in his Mr. Knight form, eventually this fight bled out into a street with civilians around, and despite his reservations about giving Marc back control of the body, he obliged. With Marc back in action and suited up as Moon Knight, he was able to lead the jackal away from everyone else and ultimately kill it. Unfortunately, in the process, he lost the scarab that the jackal was trying to acquire for Arthur Harrow, but Ethan Hawke’s character managed to find the scarab for himself, putting him one step closer to finding Ammit’s tomb. You can learn where things went from there by watching the other available Moon Knight episodes with a Disney+ subscription.

There are two more episodes to go in Moon Knight’s run, so be sure to keep checking back with CinemaBlend for coverage on the Marvel series. Our 2022 TV schedule is also available for those curious what other shows are currently streaming or playing on the airwaves.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.