Warning - This article contains spoilers for Moon Knight.
The finale for Moon Knight, the latest Disney+ show from Marvel Studios, certainly did not disappoint. With plenty of action and emotional highs and lows, the episode wrapped up (most of) the plot threads fans had been given so far. Interestingly, it also took an extra step in elevating May Calamawy's Layla El-Faouly to full-fledged superhero status when she accepted the mantle of Tawetet's Avatar. In doing so, Layla became the MCU's version of the Scarlet Scarab and helped Oscar Isaac's Moon Knight to defeat the goddess Ammit once and for all.
This exciting move gave the MCU its first Arab superhero as Marvel Studios continues its recent push for more inclusion in its pool of characters. While much attention has been paid to the studio's inclusion of LGBTQIA+ characters, Marvel has also been clear that they want a racially and ethnically diverse cast as well, and Calamawy's ascension is just one step in that direction.
Calamawy and Moon Knight consulting producer Sara Goher recently shared their thoughts on what it meant to bring an Egyptian superhero to the MCU.
Scarlet Scarab Brings First Arab Superhero to MCU
Marvel recently published interviews with Moon Knight star May Calamawy and consulting producer Sara Goher where they discussed the importance of Layla's ascension to the role of Scarlet Scarab. This has been a long time coming, according to Goher, who said Layla joining Moon Knight and Mr. Knight in the battle against Harrow left her "dancing around the room."
Goher also spoke about Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and his plan to take the studio "into a direction of really progressive thoughts and ideas" and added that seeing MCU characters come to life is "like your inner child dreaming."
Goher, like many producers on Marvel projects, is keenly aware of how bringing this level of representation to the screen will impact viewers "around the world."
"[Layla becoming the Scarlet Scarab] is going to be a magical moment for lots of people around the world. It’s great that Marvel is really at the helm of this movement on this scale to make sure that everyone feels like they belong.”
Layla's actor, May Calamawy, also understands the importance of her character, though she admitted she "had to really sit with it."
“I had to really sit with it and be like, I cannot represent every Arab woman or every Egyptian woman…I just hope that all Arab women can watch that and feel like a Super Hero, and that they have that space on that big scale. I hope that the people who can relate to Layla feel seen and excited, and people who don’t, that’s OK. There’s space for everyone. I’m just the first. There’s many more that can come. It’s an honor. It’s an honor just to be able to represent or to be Middle Eastern, and shine a light on that region.”
Representation is Key to Marvel's Future Success
As the MCU grows from it's humble origins with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk into an utterly unprecedented media empire, it's important that it be open to change and have a willingness to adapt. Audiences worldwide are tuning into these films, and as evidenced by the success of groundbreaking films like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, they respond very well to seeing people like themselves in the media they consume.
Moon Knight kept that trend going, as it rightly should have. There'd have been no excuse for not including an Egyptian character in a show set so heavily in Egypt. Elevating Layla to the rank of superhero in her own right was an important extra step in sealing the deal on that inclusion, and hopefully, the Scarlet Scarab will continue to play an important role in the MCU even as Marc, Steven, and Jake go back to London.
With Ms. Marvel on the horizon along with many other projects, the MCU will continue to diversify its roster and allow more and more people to point to the screen as they see someone like themselves making their own Marvel legend. Fans interested in this push for representation should keep their eyes on the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 6, Ms. Marvel's premiere on Disney+ on June 8, and Thor: Love and Thunder on July 8.