Moon Knight and Judaism, Explained
It doesn’t matter to most Disney and Marvel viewers Moon Knight if Marc Spector is Jewish. However, for those in the Jewish community, it means the world. As a Jewish Marvel fan myself, I was so excited for Moon Knight because I knew the character was openly Jewish in the comics. For most of the show, I waited and waited for this performance to appear; once he came (after too long) i cried. It meant so much to me to see a Marvel superhero be so open about his Jewish heritage, for the whole multiverse to see.
Marvel heroes obviously aren’t required to have or be open about their religious backgrounds. However, Judaism is an ethno-religion, and therefore there are traditions common to the Jewish people, whether religious or not. To see a character participate in these traditions when it is vital to their character means a lot to members of the Jewish community. Representation matters, even on a small scale. Being Jewish is only part of who Marc Spector is.
Was Moon Knight Jewish in the comics?
In short, yes, Marc Spector (and Moon Knight) is Jewish in the comics. He was raised by a rabbi, so of course that played a big part in his connection to religion. In the comics, his father was a Chicago rabbi who survived the Holocaust in Czechoslovakia; you can’t really get any more Jewish than that. Marc Spector was pushed to become a superhero because of his Jewishness, not in spite of it. Marc started boxing because he felt his father’s passive response to anti-Semitism in their neighborhood was not helpful, and so responded to violence with violence. (Coincidentally, the new HBO movie The survivor follows a Holocaust survivor who becomes a boxer, and further points out the themes of Moon Knight).
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Marc then went to the Marines, and later became Khonshu’s avatar; all this goes back to his original passion for boxing and the fight against anti-Semitism. However, an important element of Moon Knight’s character is his diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID. Moon Knight’s alternate identity is Steven Grant, who is not Jewish. This is important because it means that the split that occurs in Marc’s brain is not only based on identity but also on culture.
How did her Jewish heritage show up in the show?
Not many, unfortunately. Marc Spector’s Judaism didn’t play a big part in the show at all; he didn’t even make an appearance until episode five. However, the minimal representation that was in the show was done very organically and still had an impact. Marc’s Jewish heritage came up naturally through a conversation between Marc and Steven (himself) about Marc not wanting to attend his mother’s Shiva. A Shiva is a Jewish tradition that occurs after someone dies and is a time of mourning with the family of the deceased. Marc developed Steven through his troubled relationship with his mother, and so Steven doesn’t know it.
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Besides the Shiva, the only other glimpse into Mark’s Jewish heritage is a scene in which he wears a yarmulke, which is also associated with his mother’s Shiva. Thus, every connection to Marc’s Jewish heritage is based on this traumatic event, giving his connection to Judaism in the series a darker connotation.
Was this representation sufficient?
No, it wasn’t enough. Or, as Decider puts it, “Moon Knight attempt at Jewish representation was a failure. “Being openly Jewish is a big thing in modern media. Many characters are ‘coded Jewish’ and therefore not overtly Jewish, but rather seem Jewish without actually being representative. Since Moon Knight in the comics is so well known for being openly Jewish, it was upsetting for many fans to see him barely show his Judaism on the show.
Although there are great Jewish comedies, Jewish portrayal is not as common in the media as it seems. Many characters may feel Jewish but never observe the way real Jews do. That’s why people thought Moon Knight can be different. Moon Knight’s character was openly Jewish from his comic book origins, so fans hoped he would be on the show. However, this is nothing new for Marvel. — they took away the Jewish heritage of characters from the past, as with characters like the mighty Avenger Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, who were canonically Jewish in the comics. Although this is only a small part of their story, it did not make it onto the screen.
Fans expected more from Marc Spector because his Jewish heritage played such a big part in his character. With the season now over, fans can only hope to see more of Marc’s Jewish heritage in the character’s future appearances.