How will his portrayal of mental illness unfold?

Spoiler Warning: Moon Knight Season 1

The Biggest Question About What’s Happening In Marvel’s New Series Moon Knight it is: what is going on? Its protagonist, Steven with a V Grant, and/or Mark Spector (Oscar Isaac), discover in the series finale, “Summon the Suit”, that his (or their) body is a conduit for the moon god. Khonshu (Karim El Hakim and F. Murray Abraham). While Mark was undoubtedly aware of this and lived a crime-fighting vigilante-type lifestyle at the behest of Khonshu for an unknown length of time, Steven certainly wasn’t. Steven must now come to terms with Mark’s seemingly dominant existence and his identity as Khonshu’s earthly vehicle to fight the twisted justice of Arthur Harrow’s (Ethan Hawke) cult organization. While Steven appears to be the audience’s protagonist, Steven’s state of life would indicate that it’s actually Mark who runs the show, and Mark knows quite a bit about not only the plot of Khonshu and Harrow, but also about his life and that of Steven. other.


Despite all these questions about where Khonshu and Arthur Harrow stand in this situation, the most important and relevant element of the series is everything that happens with Steven Grant and Mark Spector. The two personalities share one body, one life, and their relationships, issues, and goals are now seemingly overlapping for the first time in their lives. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what’s reality and what’s an illusion, but more importantly, we’re starting to unpack some of the statements Marvel might be about to make regarding mental health, independence and individual and social acceptance.

What’s wrong with Steven and Mark?

Moon K
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It is known that the showrunners did their homework regarding the show’s interpretation of mental illness. According to the comics, Mark Spector/Steven Grant suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID) due to childhood trauma. There are many key clues to what lessons of hope and acceptance we’ll be able to glean from this series, even after two mysterious episodes that posed more questions than they answered. Mark seems to be the dominant personality, while Steven is our main character. We are introduced to Steven’s sad and lonely world in the pilot, where he is abused by his boss and his co-workers don’t know his name. We only see Steven’s personality for 99% of the series as he frantically runs around trying to figure out everything that’s going on with Khonshu.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of reasons why Mark is the alpha despite being secondary from the audience’s perspective. On the one hand, he knows of Steven’s existence and cares for him, making sure he has his fish and his job, and still wakes up in bed chained to the ballot with nothing around him disturbed, while Steven has no idea Mark exists. Mark calms Steven down the first time he has to watch from the outside as Mark takes full control of their bodies, telling him that “[he’s] okay, I’ll be fine,” with the kind of kindness in your voice you would have for a little brother or a child. There is also the case of Mark and Steven’s mother. Steven constantly leaves him messages of love, while Mark is not speaking with his mother. What does Mark know about this mother-son relationship that Steven doesn’t? And who is Steven? really leave messages for?

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Mark is also the personality who does Khonshu’s dirty work in the mortal world, can summon Khonshu’s costume and full powers, leads a life as an international vigilante, and is aware that this collaboration with the god comes from impending death. , or possibly complete death, experience, which Steven also completely ignores. Finally, Mark Spector has a wife, Layla (May Calamawy), whom he struggles to protect from Khonshu’s watchful eye, while Steven can’t go on a date. Layla herself only knows Mark. She has no idea who Steven is, though she and Steven hit it off within ten minutes of meeting, discovering that they have the same interests and expertise in poetry and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. This last point could signal a huge acceptance of the character in a larger society if Layla can get to know her husband’s other personality better, thus his more complex personal truths.

Marvel’s portrayal of mental illness

featured image of the perfect moon knight intro
marvel studios

It’s interesting that Marvel chose to give us the underdog personality, Steven, while only giving us a glimpse of the tormented, tragic, and more traditionally heroic Mark. Presenting this story to us through Steven adds more layers of what happens on Earth to the unfolding of the plot. Yet it also entails some important truths about the treatment of mental illness in society. If Steven, who on the surface is clumsy, intellectual, unassuming and looks like he wouldn’t hurt a fly, while Mark is all charm, charisma, strength and confidence, he’s a pretty split personality. definitive that the series has orchestrated. Additionally, both personalities feel an overwhelming responsibility to others; Mark to protect his wife, take care of Steven, and defend society, and Steven to at least not abandon Layla in Harrow when prompted. Mark and Steven are both heroes in different but fundamentally related ways, despite their identities being so complicated.

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Starting with Layla, if Steven and Mark can learn to come together and work together inside their one body, perhaps we will see in this series a broader acceptance of their situation and their mental disorder such as it is, with no sugar coating, no frills and no calls for change. Such a portrayal of mental illness would be incredibly meaningful depending on how Marvel guides Steven and Mark’s hero journey, giving audiences hope for representation, acceptance, and confidence in their own lives. regardless of the circumstances that were once mistakenly seen as obstacles. If Steven and Mark can save the world, then why can’t any of us?

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