It’s been a decade since a little movie called The Avengers came out. That was when Natasha Romanoff, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, first introduced Steve Rogers to the galaxy-spanning conflicts between aliens and gods and mighty men. “These guys come from legend,” she explained. “They’re basically gods.”
“There’s only one God, ma’am,” retorted Rogers. “And I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”
The MCU has since introduced a plethora of lower-case gods in the subsequent years: Dormammu, Ego, Surtur, the Supreme Intelligence, the Great Protector, the Celestials, He Who Remains, and the Watcher—half of whom you probably forgot about until you clicked some of those links just now. The point is, absent the staying power of Thor, Loki, and the supporting cast of Asgard, “gods” come a dime a dozen in the MCU, the majority of whom have proven themselves disposable.
At this point, as Moon Knight disentangles its own version of a comic-bookified pantheon of ancient Egyptian deities, probably the least interesting question we can ask is how such beings are possible in the MCU. They simply are.
One such deity is the goddess Ammit, imprisoned for eons somewhere in the Great Sand Sea. Ammit positions herself as the judge between sinner and saint, intent on ridding the world of those she deems unworthy of life. Arthur Harrow leads a sect of Ammit-followers (“Ammitites?”) on a mission to release the goddess from her imprisonment. Once freed, we presume Harrow will become Ammit’s flesh and blood avatar to unleash judgment on the entire planet.
If Arthur is believed, he is no stranger to serving as the earthly stand-in for the gods, having once donned the mantle of Khonshu’s avatar before that role was thrust upon Marc Spector.
And what exactly is Khonshu’s stake in this whole ordeal? “We protect the vulnerable and deliver Khonshu’s justice to those who hurt them,” is how Marc explained Khonshu Corp’s mission statement to his split personality, Steven.
For now, that’s the only part Marc will admit out loud. The unspoken portion is Spector’s slow reckoning with how Khonshu has preyed on mentally ill people stricken with guilt, instilling them with a false sense of higher purpose and calling. Blackmailed against their own sense of shame and hopelessness, Khonshu’s avatars are eternally grateful for the “honor” of being called to serve. It’s a misplaced sense of loyalty to the god who saved them from their baggage only to place new millstones around their necks.
Like many of us who live and breathe inside circles of faith, Marc (and now Steven) are beginning to realize that leaders who capture our commitment often twist their followers’ zeal and idealism toward their own selfish ends. There you were, happily shedding your time, money, and talents to planting churches throughout India and Ethiopia. It comes as some shock, then, to learn you actually propped up the domestic expansions of Mark Driscoll’s vanity projects instead.
“Protect the vulnerable and deliver Khonshu’s justice?” Please. The call is coming from inside the house, Mr. Knight!
Meanwhile, we’re left at the end of episode 3 with Steven and Layla learning the location of Ammit’s tomb with the aid of Khonshu’s star-spinning stunt. As punishment, Khonshu is imprisoned by the other gods, presumably in much the same way Ammit herself has been confined. Arthur Harrow relishes Khonshu’s reduced state and gloats over his old master for the many sins he once committed in Khonshu’s name. If we haven’t caught on by now, Harrow’s self-flagellation (remember the walking on broken glass thing?) and his devotion to Ammit can only be understood in terms of his desire to see Khonshu—and everything Khonshu represents—destroyed.
Ammit’s release is all but imminent. If Marc, Steven, and Layla know where to find her, then Arthur Harrow knows, too. Does this mean Moon Knight will face Ammit directly, or simply a more powerful version of Harrow?
We don’t yet know the total stakes of Khonshu’s incarceration. The show has been somewhat light on Moon Knight and Mr. Knight’s “suit up” scenes thus far. Is it even possible for our heroes to summon their suits now? Or will their powers be limited in much the same way that Harrow’s powers are limited until Ammit is released? Khonshu’s avatars have proven nearly unbeatable while donning the Moon garb, surviving full-on impalements. One must assume that with Khonshu stuck in god-jail, Marc and Steven’s risk to life and limb is now greatly amplified.
And I’ve not even mentioned the biggest tease of them all, which I’m pretty dang confident is a third, yet-to-be-revealed personality lurking under Marc and Steven’s surface. I don’t know what other conclusion to draw from Marc snapping back from lost time, having just stabbed two men to death. “Oh God,” he pants. “Steven, what did you do?”
“I swear it wasn’t me!”
“Then who was it?”
Good question! Color me tantalized.
Look. I’m a glutton for fight scenes and superheroics, otherwise I wouldn’t have made these Marvel shows my beat here at Christ & Pop Culture headquarters. But there’s a particular joy in seeing our heroes stripped of their powers and having to figure things out on their own. Like Tony Stark in Iron Man 3, Marc Spector and Steven Grant (and whoever else is hiding inside that beautifully broken brain) are about to discover the obvious truth.
It’s not the suit that makes them Moon Knight. They are Moon Knight.
And it’s a good thing, too.
Because there’s only one God. And I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.