This article contains spoilers for Moon Knight episode 5!
Moon Knight episode 5 allowed Marvel to secretly kill off a major comic book villain of the Fist of Khonshu. While the villain of the Disney+ show is Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow, the character of Moon Knight has a vast collection of rogues. One of these, one of the more major antagonists of Khonshu’s champion, appeared in episode 5, though meeting a different fate to that of his comic book counterpart.
Moon Knight episode 5 continued directly from episode 4’s major cliffhanger, with Marc and Steven traversing the Duat, the Egyptian underworld. Sent on a mission by Tawaret to balance their hearts so they can pass to the Field of Reeds, the two journeyed through Marc’s family history and Steven’s origins to become whole. In doing so, fans well-versed in the comic stories of Moon Knight will have noticed a familiar character, though not in the way he was shown in Marvel Comics.
That character was none other than Marc’s younger brother, Randall. Moon Knight episode 5 dealt with some heavy, complex subject matter regarding Marc’s past, with one of the events in his life being the death of Randall Spector at a young age. This was the beginning of the trauma and how it affected those around him, which brought Marc to create Steven Grant, developing his Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID). Randall, however, had a much different story in the Moon Knight comics. Moon Knight episode 5 presented Randall’s death as irreversible, as anything other than this would strip not only Moon Knight but Marc of most of their dramatic and emotional weight. This may have come as a surprise to those familiar with the comics. In Marvel Comics, Randall Spector was known as Shadowknight, one of Moon Knight’s many antagonists. The comic version of Randall grew up to resent Marc and attempted to take Marc’s powers away from him, doing so as the supervillain Shadowknight. After many battles, one including Moon Knight enlisting the help of the Punisher, Marc eventually defeated Randall, killing him. While the end result of both interpretations is the same, the journey to that point was completely different, with the comic version of Randall growing to an adult alongside Marc.
However, this isn’t uncommon amongst Marvel Studios productions, with the MCU often changing comic-book elements to best serve the story or the different medium of film/TV. In Randall’s case, Marvel Studios thought it better to change Randall’s death to allow the audience to emotionally invest in Marc as a character. Also, with many MCU villains being criticized for simply being dark or evil versions of the protagonist, Shadowknight would have been another example of this. Killing off Randall as a child with the flooded cave accident has almost entirely written off the possibility of Shadowknight appearing in the MCU, though to the benefit of the other characters of Moon Knight.
Although, with Moon Knight episode 5 easily ranking amongst the most emotional, heartbreaking entries into the MCU, this decision may have been for the best. Despite the dark themes introduced in the penultimate episode of Moon Knight, Marc and Steven were both elevated as a result. This just goes to show Marvel Studios’ willingness to change stories to benefit their characters, often doing so successfully. With Moon Knight and the killing off of a major villain in an entirely different way to the comics, the MCU continues to separate itself from its comic counterpart and continues to pave its own path in the world of superhero cinema.
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Moon Knight releases new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+.