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Moon Knight's Khonshu: 5 Things To Know About Marvel's Version Of The Egyptian God

Khonshu on Moon Knight
(Image credit: Disney+)

The trippy first trailer for Moon Knight gave casual Marvel fans who had never heard of the character before even more questions to ponder over, such as who is Oscar Isaac’s accent coach? However, it does provide a few clues to the source of the superhero’s powers: Khonshu.

This vengeful entity chooses Marc Spector (Isaac’s character on the highly anticipated upcoming Marvel TV show) to be his human avatar in the comics, turning him into the titular vigilante. However, the fascinating origins of this godly being date back way before the establishment of Marvel - and I mean centuries before. To learn all there is to know about Khonshu before before Moon Knight premieres on Disney+, Wednesday, March 30, 2022, read on.

Khonshu's statue from Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Khonshu Originates From Ancient Egyptian Mythology

Khonshu made his very first appearance in Marvel Comics in Moon Knight #1 in August 1980. However the character had already “existed” long, long before then as the ancient Egyptians’ interpretation of how the moon was able to travel across the night sky. According to Ancient Egypt Online, it was also believed that Khonshu (which is actually just one of many variations of how to say the mythological being’s name) was responsible for influencing fertility of people and their livestock.

Yet, Khonshu was also believed to have been a particularly violent and dangerous god who, in one passage from the Pyramid Texts known as the “Cannibal Hymn,” helped a vengeful, dead king capture and eat, literally, other godly beings. Some of these darker myths would inspire writer Doug Moench and illustrator Bill Sienkiewicz’s reinterpretation for Marvel’s Moon Knight comic. Although, it should also be mentioned that the Disney+ series is supposedly taking inspiration from artist Declan Shalvie’s design of the character.

Khonshu in human form in Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Khonshu Posing As A Human Pharoah Led To His New Moniker 

In his roots from ancient Egyptian mythology, Khonshu is referred to as the God of the Moon, as well as another title that we will get to in a moment. However, first, let’s talk about the story of how he would assume lunar control. In fact, here is actually an interpretation of said fascinating story in Marvel Comics.

According to Thor & Hercules: Encyclopaedia Mythologica Vol. 1 #1, Khonshu posed as a human pharoah in the city of Thebes around the same time that the fellow god, Osiris, was also pretending to be a mortal while ruling another Egyptian city called Heliopolis - which is actually Khonshu’s original place of birth. After Osiris was overthrown by an evil god known as Seth, it created a power shift in both Heaven and Earth that caused various godly responsibilities to be reassigned. As a result, while Osiris was named the new God of the Dead, Khonshu became the God of the Moon.

The first Moon Knight from Marvel Comics

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Khonshu Created The First Moon Knight To Battle An Ancient Avengers Team 

In addition to being named the God of the Moon, Khonshu also holds the title of “God of Vengeance” in some interpretations of ancient Egyptian mythology. Marvel Comics has explored this darker side of the character when expanding on his backstory in the Marvel Universe, as well as providing some further details of the legend of the Moon Knight, in a 2020 issue of the Avengers series by Jason Aaron.

In the year 1,000,000 B.C., there was an assembly of powerful beings (including Thor’s father, Odin, and one of the earliest of Wakanda’s Black Panthers) known as the Stone Age Avengers (which is a movie that should be added to the upcoming Marvel movies schedule immediately, if you ask me) and Khonshu wanted in on the action. However, the team rejected his proposal to become a member and, in retaliation, he chose a mortal to be his avatar to fight against the Avengers on his behalf - thus creating the first known Moon Knight on record. This would also lead to the establishment of an organization known as the Cult of Khonshu, which honors the God of the Moon as its supreme deity.

Oscar Issac on Moon Knight

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Khonshu Met Marc Spector When He Was Left For Dead In Egypt

The way that Khonshu created the more modern iteration of the Moon Knight, and the one who will be the basis of the new Disney+ Marvel TV show in particular, is quite different from how the Stone Age-era original came to be. In fact, you could argue that the reason the godly being chooses him to be his mortal avatar almost makes him sound like a, somewhat, oddly sympathetic guy. Then again, you could also argue that becoming Moon Knight is a fate worse than death in his condition.

As the story goes, mercenary Marc Spector was betrayed by his ally, knocked out, and left for dead somewhere in the Egyptian desert that happened to be right in front of a statue depicting none other than Khonshu. The spirit of the god would then revive Spector from an almost certain death by turning him into his high priest, Moon Knight - the catch, however, being that the mercenary suffering from dissociative identity disorder made him even more susceptible to becoming “possessed” by Khonshu. In fact, the more his mental health worsens, the more control Khonshu has over him. But, he also gives him some pretty cool powers, at least.

Marc Spector is Moon Knight

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Khonshu Imbues Moon Knight With Lunakinesis And Many Other Supernatural Abilities

Indeed, being the Moon Knight definitely comes with its perks - among them, becoming imbued with some of Khonshu’s powers. For instance, the God of the Moon has (unsurprisingly) the power of lunakinesis, which means that he can manipulate any object or substance derived from moon rocks - such as Uru, which is the metal that Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, is made of. He has many of the traditional gifts you expect from superheroes - including superhuman strength and durability, as well as immortality, wielding magic, and the ability to absorb powers from other beings.

While Khonshu does not use weaponry (nor does he really require the use of any), he has been known to supply the Moon Knight with powerful, lunar-themed artifacts that he adds to his arsenal. This arsenal also includes a slew of impressive devices that have a lot to do with why Marc Spector is often compared to Batman. For instance, the Crescent Dart is essentially his Batarang, and the Truncheon serves a few different purposes, including being used as a grappling hook to make climbing up buildings or swinging between them much easier.

We have seen all kinds of gods appear in the Marvel movies, but none quite like Khonshu. In case you need any more reasons to be excited for Moon Knight to premiere on Disney+, I hope that this informative breakdown of his backstory helped.

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.