After taking fans on adventures through various cultures and mythologies in the past, the MCU is about to take its first deep dive into the world of Ancient Egypt in the upcoming Moon Knight series. The Disney + project stars Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector, a mercenary who, while suffering from a dissociative identity disorder, gets tangled up in a deadly mystery involving the Egyptian Gods.
The Moon Knight directing team is led by Mohamed Diab, who will be in the directing chair for four episodes, while Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead take on the other two. The series looks to be a globe-trotting affair with shooting having taken place all over the world in places such as Budapest, Jordan, and Atlanta.
And for lead director Diab, this project was all about getting that Egyptian feeling right.
Being a native Egyptian, he has seen it done wrong so many times before, so getting it perfect this time around was essential. And speaking of having seen the country and its people done wrong on-screen, the director has one specific super-powered example in mind that he has been talking about on the press circuit.
WW84 Got Egypt Wrong
Speaking with SFX Magazine, Moon Knight director Mohamed Diab revealed how important it was to get Egypt and its culture right in the show, citing Wonder Woman 1984 as an example of a project that got the country quite wrong.
Diab said his pitch for the upcoming MCU series featured a "big part about Egypt," while also explaining "how inauthentically it has been portrayed" on the big and small screen.
The director then went on to say the country is always portrayed as "exotic," with its peoples always "sexy" and "over the top:"
"It’s always exotic – we call it orientalism. It dehumanizes us. We are always naked, we are always sexy, we are always bad, we are always over the top."
He says that audiences "never see Cairo" in movies or TV, as its always "Jordan," "Morocco," and "Spain" standing in for Cairo:
"You never see Cairo. You always see Jordan shot for Cairo, Morocco shot for Cairo, sometimes Spain shot for Cairo. This really angers us."
As a specific example, the filmmaker mentioned Wonder Woman 1984. Diab brought up "a big sequence in Egypt" from the DC film, pointing to how Warner Bros. made the country look like it was "from the Middle Ages:"
"I remember seeing Wonder Woman 1984 and there was a big sequence in Egypt and it was a disgrace for us. You had a sheik – that doesn’t make any sense to us. Egypt looked like a country from the Middle Ages. It looked like the desert."
The director looked to fix these examples of misrepresenting Egypt with his work on Moon Knight as the culture was so" ingrained in" the source material. He specifically touched on keeping things "authentic as possible:"
"There was definitely room to play [in Moon Knight] but keep it as authentic as possible, in the realm of being fantastical. Even in the original comic books they did a great job of researching and trying to make Egypt authentic.”
A Tale of Two Studios
Not to say Warner Bros. does a bad job when interpreting different peoples and cultures for their big-screen epics, but this commentary from Diab certainly paints a picture of two different studios.
While WB let something like the Egyptian sequence in WW84 make it into the final film, it seems Marvel Studios is doing their best to make sure they don't have the same sort of mess don't their hands.
With the likes of Ryan Coogler (of Black Panther fame), and now Mohamed Diab, Kevin Feige and the MCU brain trust have done a pretty good job of finding the right people to represent different cultures on screen. In a world where authentic diversity in Hollywood is such a hot topic, it is nice to know some people at the top have these decisions at the top of their minds.
Moon Knight debuts on Disney+ on March 30.