It should be no surprise to fans that Oscar Isaac's Moon Knight will focus on Marc Spector's mental health issues, considering its importance to the character in the comics. However, a plot synopsis for the series revealed that Steven Grant, the alternate personality of Marc Spector, would discover "he has dissociative identity disorder."
In essence, the audience will learn about his disorder alongside Grant as he tries to figure out what's happening to him. Spector having dissociative identity disorder, similarly to his Jewish upbringing, wasn't immediately established upon his creation in the comics, but later with other writers.
So, it's good to hear that production are taking the topic seriously, not only doing their own research but bringing on an expert consultant.
Mental Health In Marvel's Moon Knight Show
Disney recently shared a press release for its upcoming series Moon Knight, which details Marvel Studios' lengths to properly depict Marc Spector's Dissociative Identity Disorder from the comics.
To make sure that the filmmakers were accurate in depicting living with this mental illness, the production brought on board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Paul Puri, who is also an Assistant Clinical professor at UCLA and past-president of the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty Association, to help consult both the actors and directors.
Executive producer on Moon Knight, Grant Curtis, points out how "[Moon Knight] never let his own mental illness define him" and that Spector never let "societies' labels" define the people around him either:
“The beautiful thing about Moon Knight’s adventures was he was always inclusive. He never let his own mental illness define him. And therefore, he never let societies’ labels that were placed on others define the people that he brought on his adventures with him.”
Oscar Isaac, who stars as Marc Spector in Moon Knight, focused on the "intense childhood trauma" in the series and how that trauma manifests into adulthood:
“I think it was just about being honest to what Dissociative Identity Disorder is, and honest to what a lot of people have to deal with, which is really intense childhood trauma and how that manifests as an adult. I think for us it was about authenticity, more than even story communication.”
Co-star Ethan Hawke continues the momentum and talks about how Moon Knight is interesting by giving Marc Spector "a real source of pain in mental illness," stating the character is in "a tremendous amount of pain" while not being a typical hero:
"It’s especially interesting to take your hero and present him with a real source of pain in mental illness. It’s not a joke. He’s a guy who’s really struggling, and it’s very interesting to have a protagonist who’s in a tremendous amount of pain and who is not a classic hero.”
Another change that flips the classic hero narrative is the audience being put into the perspective of Steven Grant. He is one of Marc Spector's split personalities, which causes him to be in as much of the dark as the audience. Isaac explains that because of this, the audience "can really empathize with him" and begin to question everything that happens to him:
“You can really empathize with him. You feel what it must have felt like to have all these wild things happening to him, not knowing if he’s crazy or he’s actually discovered something.”
Speaking of Spector's other personalities, Isaac, as an actor, felt that, "What's so amazing about this character, and the mythology around it, is that it's so rich." He continues, saying that he "really wanted to do a character study" and "a point of view experience" so that audiences aren't just watching a story play out in a typical fashion, but from "the eyes of Steven:"
“Our job was to put a lens on the things that we found the most interesting or that had the most dramatic juice while taking the mental health aspect about it incredibly seriously. I really wanted to do a character study, a point of view experience, so you’re not sitting back and just watching the story unfold, you are within the eyes of Steven and experiencing this thing that’s happening to him. And it’s quite terrifying.”
Exploring Childhood of Marc Spector?
For decades, the origin of Spector's dissociative identity disorder was never explored until writer Max Bemis came along, who was himself diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As is typical for dissociative identity disorder, it is caused by traumatic events during childhood, acting as a way to distance or detach the person from their trauma.
The same happened to Spector as a child, who was almost killed by someone he trusted dearly, who turned out to be a complete monster. In Bemis' run on "Moon Knight," he has Spector explain to his estranged daughter that "When I was little, I got scared very badly and, since my brain was wacky, it found a wacky way to deal with being scared," which resulted in the manifestation of Jack Lockley and Steven Grant.
Since "intense childhood trauma" was mentioned alongside Marc Spector and his dissociative identity disorder, it seems likely that the show will explore Spector's childhood. Coupled with that potential casting of Spector's parents, it makes sense, potentially enabling the MCU to adapt the moment when Spector's father sent him away to a psychiatric hospital.
Fans will probably see what caused Marc Spector's mental illness when Moon Knight premieres on March 30, 2022.