The upcoming Disney+ series “Moon Knight” is looking to give Egypt a better portrayal than the ones fan saw in “Wonder Woman 1984.”
The Marvel director Mohamed Diab slammed “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins for feeding into Hollywood stereotypes about Egypt.
‘Moon Knight’ Director Calls Patty Jenkins’ Portrayal Of Egypt ‘A Disgrace’
In a recent interview with SFX Magazine, Diab called out “Wonder Woman 1984” as a “disgrace” for its inaccurate portrayal of Egypt.
“I remember seeing ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ and there was a big sequence in Egypt and it was a disgrace for us,” he recalled. “You had a sheik – that doesn’t make any sense to us. Egypt looked like a country from the Middle Ages. It looked like the desert.”
He was also upset that Egypt’s capital city of Cairo is never portrayed correctly on screen.
“You never see Cairo. You always see Jordan shot for Cairo, Morocco shot for Cairo, sometimes Spain shot for Cairo,” Diab said in the interview. “This really angers us.”
‘Moon Knight’ Director Wants To Portray Egypt Authentically In The Marvel Series
When he was working with Disney to create “Moon Knight,” he made it very clear that he wanted to do away with misconceptions about Egypt that have been reinforced by Hollywood.
“There was a big part about Egypt, and how inauthentically it has been portrayed throughout Hollywood’s history,” Diab recalled. “It’s always exotic — we call it ‘orientalism.’ It dehumanizes us. We are always naked, we are always sexy, we are always bad, we are always over the top.”
Diab explained how he wanted to incorporate actual Egyptian history into the show, while still having fun with its comic book origins.
“It’s part of the show because it’s part of the comic book. It’s part of how he gets his powers. It’s ingrained in it,” he explained. “There was definitely room to play but keep it as authentic as possible in the realm of being fantastical. Even in the original comic books they did a great job of researching and trying to make Egypt authentic.”
However, the casting of star Oscar Isaac – who played Resistance pilot Poe Dameron in the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy – has been criticized for making the role inauthentic due to his ethnicity.
Why Are Fans Unhappy With Oscar Isaac Playing ‘Moon Knight’?
In the comic books, the character of Marc Spector – AKA Moon Knight – is Jewish. Oscar Isaac is not. He said that he has some connection to Judaism through his father but also admitted that his father raised him in a “very Christian” household.
Marvel Studios had reportedly been looking into actors like Daveed Diggs and Nick Kroll to play the titular character before they eventually settled on Isaac. After his casting, many fans wondered if they would still portray the character as Jewish, or just cut that aspect of his character out of the storyline entirely.
In an interview with an American Jewish media outlet called The Forward, comic book writer Alan Zelenetz shared his thoughts about the casting controversy. According to the “Moon Knight” creator, Marvel is “certainly not bound by any origins” when they chose to convert a comic book hero into a live-action TV series.
Zelenetz seemed to sum up the online discourse by saying:
“Moon Knight has to be Jewish — ‘Oh, we’re watching Marvel! The boycott is around the corner.’ I can smell blood in the water already! ‘How could they not make him Jewish? Oscar Isaac is not Jewish, even though he has the name ‘Isaac.’ And they’ve got an Egyptian director — what’s going on here?’”
He also pointed out that the character of Arthur Harrow, who is being portrayed by Ethan Hawke in the series, is also very different than the character he created on the page.
“And Arthur Harrow won’t be the character I created. So what?” Zelenetz asked. “If he’s not Jewish because there’s a good artistic reason he’s not Jewish, that’s perfectly OK. I don’t care.”
However, he did admit that he thinks the series “would be a great place to explore an ancient Egyptian God and a Jew” and ventured that “Maybe the ancient Egyptian God wants to make up for all those ancient Egyptians who couldn’t keep up with Moses! That would be a good storyline.”