“Egypt looked like a country in the Middle Ages. It looked like the desert.”
Disney Plus’ next Marvel series moves the MCU to North Africa, under the direction of Egyptian filmmaker, Mohammad Diab, who directed four of the six episodes. Moreover, Moon Knight is a superhero infused with Egyptian mythology, since it is from the Egyptian god of the moon, Khonshu, that he draws his power.
Obviously, the symbolism is great for Marvel, which is turning to the East and the Arab world for the first time. So Mohammad Diab was very careful about how he portrayed his country on screen: “In my approach, Egypt has held a large place, as it has been portrayed inauthentically throughout Hollywood history. Always in an exotic way. Let’s call it Orientalism…” deciphers the director for SFX Magazine. “It dehumanizes us. We’re still half naked, we’re still sexy, we’re still mean, we’re still over the top…”
And Diab to concretely quote Wonder Woman 1984 as a recent example of Hollywood’s failure in Egypt. The Patty Jenkins sequel is partly set there and was accused, upon release, of conveying dubious stereotypes: “You never see Cairo in the movies. You always see Jordan used as a backdrop to represent Cairo, or Morocco, sometimes Spain… It really makes us angry“, adds Mohammad Diab. “I remember seeing Wonder Woman 1984 and there was a big sequence in Egypt and it was a shame for us. You had a Sheikh… No, seriously! It makes no sense to us. Egypt looked like a country of the Middle Ages. She looked like the desert.”
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Thus, the filmmaker is on a mission for his country, with Moon Knightjust because “Egypt is part of the series because it is part of the comic. It’s part of how the character gets their powers. It’s rooted in there. There was certainly room to play with the codes, but while keeping it as authentic as possible, in the realm of the fantastic. By the way, even in the original comics, they did a great job of researching and trying to make Egypt look authentic.”
Moon Knight will be launched on March 30, on Disney Plus.