One of the elements of Moon Knight that makes it stand out the most is how, despite being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the show does not feature a single character from a previous MCU project. One of the only references to the wider world was towards the criminal underworld of Madripoor, a location first glimpsed in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
It's not like cameos and references weren't considered. Previously, Moon Knight head writer and executive producer Jeremy Slater exclusively revealed to The Direct how he "tried very hard to get the Eternals into the show," specifically that of Kumail Nanjani's Kingo.
As neat as it would have been to see the ancient Egypt sequence he had planned, they decided to use that money elsewhere in the show. Now, Slater has revealed another cameo idea that crossed their mind for Moon Knight: Chris Evan's old man Steve Rogers.
A Chris Evans Cameo?
In an interview with Discussing Film, Moon Knight head writer and executive producer Jeremy Slater commented on their choice to avoid connections to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how there was almost a cameo from Chris Evans.
Slater revealed how they asked themselves "what happens if we try to get Chris Evans back as old Captain America," and even considered "Dane Whitman from Eternals:"
"...There were definitely different times in the writing process where we talked about cameos because cameos are one of the most fun things to discuss in a writer’s room. What happens if we try to get Chris Evans back as old Captain America? You know, you sit there and play that “what if” game among your writers. The only two that we seriously discussed? Dane Whitman from Eternal of course, because at the time Steven Grant was going to be working at the same museum. But there was never any logical reason for him to be in the show. As a Marvel fan, I would be frustrated if Dane showed up for another cameo and it didn’t progress his story or give us any teasers for the Black Knight. Then we also talked about including the Eternals, specifically Kingo and Makkari. We were originally planning to show the original fall of Ammit and the death of Alexander the Great in a flashback sequence, and that seemed like it could naturally dovetail with an appearance from the Eternals."
Despite how cool it would be to include those big names, they soon realized that "[their] money would be better spend making Moon Knight [himself] as cool as possible versus spending that money to bring in another character and let them be cool:"
"But once you start talking budget and start realizing, 'Oh, if we’re spending [x] millions of dollars to recreate Ancient Egypt and get a lot of movie stars in here, then that’s that same amount of money coming out of our budget for the big episode six fight, or the stuff in the Egyptian Underworld.' You then finally say, 'Our money would be better spent making Moon Knight [himself] as cool as possible versus spending that money to bring in another character and let them be cool.' So part of it was being practical. Another part of it was just the fact that we really let Kevin be our guiding light for a lot of these creative decisions because he has such a good gut instinct for it."
The writer revealed how thanks to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, they looked harder at any cameo prospects, and usually ended up "[feeling] like [they were] shoehorning in... unnecessary cameo[es]:"
"Kevin [Feige] comes to us and says, 'You know what, guys? I know everyone loves the cameos. Everyone gets excited about it. But I really think your story is standing on its own two feet right now.' Then it almost feels like shoehorning in an unnecessary cameo. Suddenly War Machine happens to be visiting Cairo at that time or something like that. It feels like it would have just jerked out of the story and really taken the focus away from the character journey that we were on between Marc and Steven. So it’s a little bit of a bummer because I like to play with all the toys in that sandbox, and I was like give me 'Doctor Strange [and] Spider-Man.' But at the same time, you recognize that it’s the right creative decision."
Captain America and Moon Knight Could Have Been
The big question is, would Steve Rogers' re-appearance have worked? Yes, but also no. On the downside, bringing in old man Rogers would have left the writers a lot of story elements to explain, even if he only featured in a scene or two; bringing Captain America back is a big deal.
What would have worked, however, was if it was with the intent of planting seeds for a Secret Avengers team. The 2011 run of Secret Avengers from Ed Brubaker featured Steve Rogers leading a covert superhero team, and Moon Knight was one of its key members.
Now, having said all that, the basic idea from Slater was almost certainly something towards the beginning of the writing phase, when most story elements had yet to be figured out. Clearly, with the final product that audiences got, a Chris Evans return would have felt odd.
Hopefully, he comes back in a future MCU project sooner or later. After all, he's even admitted how much he misses the role.
Moon Knight is now streaming on Disney+.