‘Moon Knight’ From Page to Screen: Episode 3

In our latest From Page to Screen feature, we explore Moon Knight’s comic history to uncover Layla’s connection to Marc.
moon knight layla

Moon Knight continues to be a fresh combination of the character’s comic book history with a dash of original interpretation. Last week, we compared the live-action series version of Mr. Knight with the comics’. But for Episode 1, we took advantage of the lack of direct adaptation to explore the history of Marc Spector’s dissociative identity disorder in the comics. Like with that first episode, Episode 3 opens the door to dig deeper into what is only hinted at in Moon Knight.

At the beginning of the episode, as Layla was getting her fake passport, we learn that her father was an archaeologist who was killed during an excavation in the desert. As Moon Knight clearly spends most of its time focused on Steven Grant and Marc Spector, it’s unclear how far back into Layla’s history the series will go. But the little we got is incredibly similar to the comics, and it also connects to Moon Knight’s origin. So, looking into what Episode 3 is referencing might give us a deeper understanding of Layla, Marc Spector, and Moon Knight.

Moon Knight #1 (1980)
Moon Knight #1 (1980)
Moon Knight #1 (1980)

Back in the day, when Marc Spector was still a mercenary, he worked for a man named Raoul Bushman, or the Bushman. He would become Moon Knight’s clear archenemy, but that is for another time. Bushman and Marc’s unit went on a raid of a newly discovered tomb in Sudan. Archaeologist Dr. Peter Alraune and his team—including his daughter Marlene—were the ones who discovered the tomb and were working at the site at the time of the raid.

Moon Knight #13 (2017)
Moon Knight #13 (2017)
Moon Knight #13 (2017)

While slightly varying versions of the events that took place to appear over the more than 40 years of Moon Knight comics, the traditional story finds Bushman murdering Dr. Alraune, and others, in front of Marlene. At this moment, Marc seems to have a moral crisis and is strongly opposed to Bushman’s murderous ways. Marc saves Marlene, who hates Marc at first, but is mortally wounded.

Moon Knight #1 (1980)
Moon Knight #14 (2017)
Moon Knight #14 (2017)

The next bit is, of course, at the core of all Moon Knight stories. In Moon Knight #1 (1980), Marlene brings Marc inside the tomb where he dies underneath a statute of Khonshu only to come back to life claiming to be the Fist of that same god. In Moon Knight (2016), Marc crawls into the tomb on his own without Marlene. After this, Marlene for some reason falls for Marc (and Steven, Jake, and Moon Knight) and they move in together in a Long Island mansion. Marlene supports Moon Knight’s vigilantism and they more or less (less) live happily ever after. In any event, the murder of Marlene’s father was always the connection between her and Marc.

Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight Episode 3

In Moon Knight, Layla is essentially a much-improved Marlene. So, the brief mention of Layla’s archaeologist father in Episode 3 is interesting for a few reasons. First, it could imply that Layla has a virtually identical backstory to Marlene’s in terms of the death of her father and connection to Marc Spector. However, Layla says that her father’s death was “lost to the sands”, implying that she does not know what happened. If that is the case, it begs the question of how she met Marc and whether she knows about his involvement with Bushman and the raid.

Moon Knight #4 (2016)

Whatever the case ends up being, it is fun to speculate elements of Moon Knight when the series makes clear references to the character’s or supporting characters’ comic book history. Layla’s father and his death may very likely play a significant role either in her relationship with Marc or in exploring the origin of Moon Knight in the series.

The first three episodes of Moon Knight are now streaming on Disney+.

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