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Why Moon Knight Episode 3’s Climactic Fight Sequence Caused Disney+ Series’ Cinematographer To Lose A Lot Of Sleep

During Moon Knight Episode 3, a.k.a. “The Friendly Type,” Oscar Isaac’s Marc Spector/Steven Grant and May Calamawy’s Layla El-Faouly made their way to Cairo, Egypt to try and find Ammit’s tomb before Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow. Their search took them to Anton Mogart, a wealthy antiquities collector played by the late Gaspard Ulliel. Unfortunately, despite Layla’s past ties with Mogart, things got out of hand pretty quickly, resulting in a fight scene both Marc and Steven got in on. This sequence was among the more challenging ones for cinematographer Gregory Middleton to shoot on Moon Knight, to the point he lost a lot of sleep over it.

While interviewing Gregory Middleton about his work on four episodes of Moon Knight (1, 3, 5 and 6, with Andrew Droz Palermo handling the cinematography on the other two), I asked him how complicated it was to pull off the climactic fight sequence in “The Friendly Type,” as not only were Marc as Moon Knight and Steven as Mr. Knight clashing with bad guys, but Layla was dealing with her own adversary. Here’s what Middleton had to say about putting together this portion of Moon Knight Episode 3 (which you can watch with a Disney+ subscription):

That Mogart sequence, I had many sleepless nights and sleepless days (because we were shooting at night) on that sequence, because it was one, a very complex set. We built the whole horse arena, Stefania [Cella] built these incredible pyramids that use the gold lighting, and it’s quite a long dialogue scene. And the fight is huge. Conceptually, it started off as something that used to be indoors in like a dark kind of thing, and part of the idea then was to make him more like a boogeyman; he pokes out, he kills people and disappears. But because in the end the scene is actually Steven witnessing the brutality of Moon Knight and kind of freaking him out, it was actually a brilliant choice. Mohammed [Diab] really fought to have the horses and he wanted the Egyptian jousting, and it was actually better to have it in an arena like that because then you really see what’s going on, and you really see Moon Knight be as awful as he can be, which is horrifying Steven, because that’s the story. You don’t want to make the style trump the story, if you know what I mean. Because you can make something visually neat, but it wouldn’t have been right for what we wanted Steven to witness.

By this point in Moon Knight’s run, both Marc Spector and Steven Grant had already been through a lot, from the car chase in “The Goldfish Problem” to tangling with the second jackal creature in “Summon the Suit.” Even so, the fight that unfolded in Anton Mogart’s compound was especially intense, and it’s understandable why Gregory Middleton was so flustered during the course of shooting it. Between re-imagining the sequence to take place outdoors on an intricate set rather than indoors, throwing Egyptian jousting in alongside the throwing of punches and flying of both bullets and crescent blades, having Marc and Steven switch off in the middle of the craziness, and then Layla fighting someone on the side, there were a lot of moving pieces to keep track of. If I was in Middleton’s shoes, I probably would have been troubled by insomnia too.

In the end, Gregory Middleton, director Mohammed Diab (who’s called Oscar Isaac a genius for the way he portrays multiple identities) and the rest of the Moon Knight cast and crew pulled off shooting this memorable sequence that better aligned with the narrative choices. Unfortunately, things didn’t end well for Marc Spector and Steven Grant in this episode, and not just because they got stabbed a bunch of times. By the end of “The Friendly Type,” they lost the power of Moon Knight after Khonshu was imprisoned in an ushabti by the other Egyptian gods for using his power to temporarily turn back the night sky so that Marc/Steven and Layla could find Ammit’s tomb. That kicked off a heap of other troublesome developments to unfold in the latter half of Moon Knight, but that’s a topic to be discussed elsewhere.

The Moon Knight finale (no word yet on whether it’s a season or series end) drops next Wednesday, May 4, on Disney+, and Oscar Isaac has already revealed where that climactic fight will take place. If you’re wondering what else is coming exclusively to the Disney+ corner of the MCU, look through our guide on upcoming Marvel TV shows.

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.