Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight has been quite the wild ride so far. Audiences are now four episodes in, and by the end of the latest episode, audiences have taken a deep dive into the cracked psyche that is the inside of Marc Spector’s head. By the time this entry comes to a close, audiences are left with a slew of questions about what's actually going on.
Some may have seen the twist coming, particularly those who are familiar with the iconic Jeff Lemire run for the character. Others were no doubt blindsided by the massive reality-altering twist.
Is anything audiences have watched in the last few weeks real? Is Marc Spector's head on straight? What in the world is going on?
Thankfully, the directors behind the episode are on hand to explain their intentions behind those twisty final moments.
Moon Knight Directors Help Explain
Warning - the rest of the article contains spoilers for Moon Knight Episode 4.
In an interview with Moon Knight directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, Entertainment Weekly caught up with the two filmmakers to get their thoughts on that mind-bending twist at the end of Episode 4.
In the final ten minutes, Oscar Isaac’s Marc Spector is shot and then ends up waking up in a mental hospital—suggesting that everything up until this point was a dream.
Moorhead claimed that “the end of Episode 4 is actually a gift of the script,” and they were “really glad to be able to honor the original comics:”
“The end of Episode 4 is actually a gift of the script. It came from wanting to do the least expected thing and completely disorient the audience, while also being completely true to the character that we've built over four episodes. Also the comic book character: There's a run of Moon Knight written by Jeff Lemire, and [Greg] Smallwood did the art, and it has a lot of similar feelings and visuals to what happens at the end of Episode 4. So we're really glad to be able to honor the original comics, the ones that we were the most drawn to when we were trying to crack Moon Knight. That's where the inspiration came from, especially visually and tonally.”
Benson chimed in, discussing their philosophy when it comes to unsettling the audience, asking: “what is more exciting than being creeped out:”
“We have a general philosophy in scenes where we're trying to unsettle or fill people with dread: Slow is creepy, fast is exciting. Obviously, what is more exciting than being creeped out?”
Moorhead harkened back to the duo’s previous films, noting how their last “decade of prior films really came in handy” when it came to establishing that sense of dread and surrealism when Marc wakes up in the hospital:
“It's obviously not a visceral scene. It's not kinetic, it shouldn't be moving fast. It should feel surreal. It should feel like the point of view of Steven/Marc in that moment. That's where I think over a decade of our prior films really came in handy. We had that toolbox of making those types of stories, that make you feel full of dread and unsettled.”
Oscar Isaac’s performance continued to be incredible, something Moorhead confirmed when noting “a lot of what [they] do is chasing what Oscar is doing.” The filmmaker also revealed that they related those final few minutes of the episode to “feeling like it’s underwater:”
“A lot of what we do is chasing what Oscar is doing. We feel like the show is at its absolute best whenever we're marrying what we're doing to honoring what Oscar's doing. I think that's pretty clear to anyone that watches Moon Knight. We've talked about this scene feeling like it's underwater, not just because he's been sedated, but because the entire audience has just been subjected to an entire worldview shift of what this show is. Why is there a weird Indiana Jones knockoff movie right in the middle of Moon Knight?”
Benson brought back up the iconic Lemire run for the character, a story where Marc Spector inexplicably wakes up in a mental hospital, only to come to the belief that the reality is that he's being held against his will by some no-good Egyptian Gods––and that New York City itself is drowning in and.
The director made it clear how they “really feel like what we did captures the spirit” of that famous run:
“Also, connecting it back to the Lemire run, there are so many iconic single panels within that run. But there's one sequence in particular where our hero has been trying to escape from a mental health facility. He finally gets out. He jumps out, but it turns out he was on an airplane, and he's free-falling. Obviously, that doesn't happen in this show, but we really feel like what we did captures the spirit of that distilled image into something that is not literally that but has the same feeling.”
Moorhead commented on how they also really “wanted to earn that moment” between Steven and Marc when they hugged, something he described as an instinctual reaction for the two of them at that point::
“Actually, not to completely spoil the Lemire run, but at the very end there's this image that completely lit our hair on fire when we first read it. It's Marc Spector hugging himself, and he says, ‘Goodbye, Marc.’ It's as he's achieving integration and understanding who he is. Now, we're not at the end of our story here, but we just felt like there's this antagonism between [Steven and Marc], and they're starting to learn to work together and gain some mutual respect. So when they first see each other in person, they would instinctually just embrace. That was something we were really leading towards with all the other episodes. We wanted to earn that moment.”
Of course, Oscar Isaac’s personas weren’t alone in the hospital. Watching over him was none other than Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow, a patronizing doctor assigned to taking care of the titular hero.
Benson recalled how “Ethan [Hawke] would talk about how he was feeling inspired by Carl Jung,” and that he did a great job with his “wild transformation:”
“I remember in the preparation of that scene, Ethan would talk about how he was feeling inspired by Carl Jung — by some of the most famous photographs of him and the pop-culture interpretation of who he is, if nothing else. We remember showing up to set and suddenly seeing Ethan in that mustache, with that hair, wearing the glasses, and I just thought what a wild transformation that was from Harrow.”
Moorhead pointed out how when they filmed the scene between Hawke and Isaac, the assumption was that the “scene would just kind of be about [Harrow],” but when they went to film Spector’s side of the conversation, they “completely refocused the edit in [their] heads to be back in Marc’s experience:”
“He has 99 percent of the dialogue in that scene, and we shot his coverage first on that day. What's funny is we assumed that because he is doing all the talking, that scene would just kind of be about him, with a few cutaways back to Marc. But once we turned it around on Oscar and saw what he was giving us and figuring out his eyelines, we realized how active it was. There's this wonderful take where a fly lands on his hand on accident. That's a real fly! He chased it. It's funny because we assumed we were going to be cutting the whole thing around Harrow, but we completely refocused the edit in our heads to be back in Marc's experience in that moment — because Oscar was giving us so much.”
The Insanity of Episode 4’s Ending
With the general reaction to the finale, it seems that the directors did a great job with their big, game-changing twist. The surrealism, and general disorientation, were superb.
But what will come next for the titular character? Given Tarewet’s arrival, it could be a safe assumption that everything at the hospital isn’t real. Then again, she could be showing up in the same manner in which Khonshu has been over the last few episodes—so the truth remains a mystery.
There’s no clear path ahead, but with where the series currently is, audiences shouldn’t be surprised if the show takes a darker turn as it explores the recesses of Marc Spector and Steven Grant’s minds; not to mention whoever happens to be in that third sarcophagus.
There's a high probability, given Marc was just shot and potentially killed, that this hospital is a mental manifestation to stave off Spector's imminent death. Perhaps Khonshu had Taweret on call in case anything were to happen to him and his Avatar, to which then she'd lend a helping protective hand.
Hopefully, fans will find plenty of answers within the final two weeks of the series.
Moon Knight is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.