Who Is Khonshu – Everything You Need To Know About The Moon God Of Moon Knight
With the release of the MCU Disney+ series Moon Knight, mythological Egyptian Gods take centre stage in prime time once again. The new show sees the character of Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) take on the role of a vigilante, granted powers by the Egyptian God Khonshu. But unlike many of the — let’s call them— mainstream Egyptian Gods, Khonshu is lesser known. So we decided to take a closer look to find out who is Khonshu, and his significance in the Marvel Comics and Cinematic worlds. In the Moon Knight series premiere, F Murray Abraham’s Khonshu appears as the voice behind Steven Grant (also Oscar Isaac). But before we can find out who is Khonshu in the MCU, we need to take a look at his actual historical and comic book origins. So read on for a comprehensive deep dive into Who Khonshu is; in the MCU, comics and real life!
Please note: there will be some spoilers here from the Moon Knight series premiere, given that it’s the first time we meet F Murray Abraham’s Khonshu.
Who Is Khonshu— The IRL Egyptian God?
Image via Louvre Collection.
Before we can figure out who Khonshu is in the Marvel world, let’s take a look at the inspiration of this Egyptian God from actual mythology. It’s well known that Marvel comics and the MCU depict Gods of various cultures in their stories. Thor comes from Norse Mythology, and even the recent The Eternals’ origins come from the history and mythology of many of the world’s religions and cultures. Or rather, the other way around. More on that later. With Moon Knight in the MCU, it looks like we’ll be diving into the Egyptian Gods this time around.
The Egyptian God Khonshu might not be as well known in mainstream media as the others like Ammun-Ra, Osiris, Horus or Set, but his association with them all makes him pretty significant. In the Moon Knight premiere, Steven refers to an Egyptian Ennead, which literally means ‘group of nine’. In actual history, there are many such enneads, but the main one is the Great Ennead of which Ra is a part. However, Khonshu is not part of that Great one. And was only included for the story of the series.
The Egyptian God Khonshu And His Powers
Image via Disney+.
In Egyptian mythology, Khonshu is the son of Ra and Mut, forming instead, the Thebean Triad. Khonshu himself is the Egyptian God of the moon, with his name literally translating into ‘traveller’. It’s thought that this has to do with the moon travelling across the night sky each day. This connection to the moon iconography continues with myths stating that women conceive during nights of the crescent moon, and cattle became fertile. He was also the God of light in the night, called upon to protect people against wild animals or other dangers while travelling at night.
Being a God, Khonshu obviously has some powers, which consist of the power to raise the dead. Along with granting his chosen avatar of Moon Knight with a healing suit, super strength and otherworldly abilities. Who Khonshu is as an Egyptian God, from a more personality standpoint, differs in opinion. Some myths depict the God as benevolent, while others as ruthless. But the depiction that F Murray Abraham’s Khonshu in the MCU seems to be going with, is much more in line with this comic book origins.
Khonshu In The Marvel Universe Is Quite A Character
Image via Marvel Comics.
While we don’t know too much about the mythological Egyptian God Khonshu, there’s a lot about him in the Marvel comic book universe. The comic book origin retains Khonshu’s lineage to his father Ra, however, there is a bitter rivalry between the two. Who Khonshu is in this version, is definitely a part of the Great Ennead of the Celestial Heliopolis, joining the other, more famous Egyptian Gods. This is the version that the MCU series is basing their version on as well, it seems. In the Marvel comics, the Egyptian Gods are unable to enter the mortal realm and directly interfere with the events of man. They, therefore, choose Avatars (no, not the blue guys!) to do their will on Earth. Enter Moon Knight, Khonshu’s avatar in the real world.
Striking a deal with Marc Spector after his death, Khonshu grants Spector his mystical powers, to carry out vengeance in his name on Earth. In the comics, Spector is sometimes called Khonshu’s servant, subject and described in other subjugated terms. Whereas what we’ve gotten so far of that dynamic in the MCU series, seems more of a partnership? As seen by F Murray Abraham’s Khonshu berating the Steven Grant character to allow Marc control of the body for whatever mission the two were on.
The History Of Khonshu In Marvel Comics
Image via Marvel Comics.
The Marvel comics’ Khonshu has had a storied past. Existing eons ago, Khonshu went up against the pre-historic version of the Avengers, after he wasn’t invited to join them. His avatars of Moon Knight would also often clash with his father’s Sun Kings. Which, honestly, sounds like it could be an epic musical! His association with Marc Spector in the modern-day saw him embark more adventures, sometimes as Spector’s patron, and other times as the antagonist of the story. Namely, the Avengers: Age Of Khonshu storyline which saw the Egyptian God conquer New York City, renaming it New Thebes City, in an attempt to take over the world. It was only when the Phoenix Force inhabited Spector that the heroes were able to stop him.
F Murray Abraham’s Khonshu In The Marvel Cinematic Universe
Image via Disney+.
In the comics, Khonshu is usually benevolent. But as the stories continue with various writers and versions, the relationship does turn adversarial. Given how the somewhat comedic introduction to F Murray Abraham’s Khonshu in the Moon Knight Series is, there might be elements of that in the new show as well. While we only have one episode to go by, it definitely seems like this Khonshu will stay true to its comic book origins. At least in terms of initially existing as a voice in Steven/Marc’s head. Even his appearance looks true to the comic books, with the head of a bird and a body adorned in wrappings. Carrying a staff with a Moon shaped ornament at the top.
How the rest of Abraham’s depiction of Khonshu in the Moon Knight series will play out is still something we’re not entirely sure of. Will it be more of a buddy-comedy dynamic a la Sony’s Venom movie? Or will it be true to the comics where Khonshu becomes an agitator and instigator for Marc, even crossing the line into becoming a villain at times. We’ll have to tune into the entire run of Moon Knight on Disney+ to find out. But the potential of this iteration of who Khonshu is in the MCU, connected to other aspects, is intriguing.
Khonshu’s Connection To Other MCU Characters Already Introduced
Image via Disney+.
Khonshu’s history in the Marvel comics universe has him intersecting with many Marvel characters already in the current MCU. One of Khonshu’s earliest avatars was actually Ravonna Rennslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), as introduced in the Loki series. This was at a time when Khonshu went up against an iteration of Kang The Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), also introduced in Loki when one of his variants was the Pharaoh Rama-tut. With Kang looking to be (potentially) a major villain in the MCU, Khonshu‘s connections may prove to be significant.
There was a version of the Moon Knight character who battled against the Avengers of the pre-historic era. The members of that team included Thor’s father Odin. Not to mention original iterations of Marvel’s legacy characters like Ghost Rider, Sorcerer Supreme, the Phoenix and more. The recent Avengers: Age Of Khonshu story actually had the big bad be Mephisto. Mephisto has famously become a popular go-to conspiracy theory for the new batch of MCU shows on Disney+ starting with WandaVision. Although, the connection to Mephisto is slightly stronger with Khonshu here, it all depends on what story the series is telling. And the series is definitely deviating a lot from the source material, adapting it for the new series. But this is not new for come book material. And Khonshu himself is not a stranger to adaptations, given the various iterations of the character that has appeared in other media.
Other Times Egyptian Gods Were Adapted For Television
Image via Marvel Comics.
Moon Knight isn’t the first time that Egyptian Gods were adapted for television or movies. Many different movies have featured the Gods and characters from that mythology in their stories. Some notable movies are Gods Of Egypt, Night At The Museum, The Mummy franchise and more. Even comic books like American Gods and Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman had notable characters from the Egyptian Gods. The most notable TV and movie franchise that centers its entire story around Egyptian Gods, is the Stargate franchise.
One of the longest-running sci-fi franchises ever, Stargate is all about the idea that the Egyptian Gods were actually intergalactic aliens. These aliens seeded and subjugated human life throughout the galaxy. Through portals, a new branch of government explores these distant worlds. And along the way, fights these aliens posing as Egyptian Gods. The end goal is to to free the galaxy from their tyrannical rule. Eventually, throughout the series, the idea expanded to include all other mythologies and religions of the world. Such as Hinduism, Buddhism, the age of Camelot, Greek Gods, Atlantis and even Norse mythology. But the introduction of Khonshu in the MCU raises certain questions about their place in this universe.
Does The MCU Have Actual Gods?
Image via Marvel Comics.
Gods have had a weird relationship in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While there are many Gods in the MCU, they are introduced in more realistic and grounded ways. The first example of this is in Thor, where Norse Gods are explained as just being highly advanced otherworldly beings. Their advanced technology and limited time on Earth over the centuries transformed their legacy into God-like status. But the movie made it clear that they are an advanced alien race. This was the same approach taken to the more recent The Eternals movie. Many members of this alien team have names that connect them to Gods and other mythological beings in history. Gilgamesh (Mesopotamian), Ikarus, Makkari, Thena & Phastos (Greek) and Kingo (Babylonian) are but some examples. The movie implies that these characters’ are the basis for their mythological counterparts in Earth’s history.
So with the introduction of the Egyptian God Khonsu, will we finally get actual Gods in the MCU? So far, there doesn’t seem to be a grounded explanation of why this bird-beaked God exists. But we’ve still got the rest of the series to go. Along with Khonshu, the series also introduces another God, Ammit, who seems to be the main villain through Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke). We still don’t know if the other Gods will also appear in the series. But if they do, Marvel Studios will have to once again explain why Gods who have existed for eons weren’t a part of the last 14 years of major MCU events. Something that is increasingly becoming an issue for the burgeoning comic book franchise.
To find out more about who Khonshu is, tune into Moon Knight on Disney+ every Wednesday.
What did you think about how F Murray Abraham’s Khonshu in the Moon Knight series? Do you think other Egyptian Gods will appear in the show? And if so, what will that mean for the larger MCU? Let us know about this and more in the comments below.
Featured image via Marvel comics.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.