Moon Knight, a superhero with a mental illness, joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe

I love that, in the last two phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we aren't just watching the stories of big tough white guys. Now, we're seeing different perspectives. I think these stories — whether it's Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, the Scarlet Witch, Shang-Chi and, now, Moon Knight — are so important because they show people who aren't men or who aren't white or who aren't neurotypical that they, too, can be superheroes. 

I was instantly drawn to Marvel's latest TV show "Moon Knight" after hearing it was about a superhero with a mental illness. I immediately started watching because I knew, then and there, that this show would definitely be my cup of tea! 

Not to give too much away for those who haven't yet watched, but Moon Knight is the alter ego of a man with dissociative identity disorder, a mental health condition characterized by the presence of at least two separate and distinct personalities. The disorder affects about 1% of the population, and it usually develops in response to childhood abuse or another traumatic event. 

Moon Knight's identities are Steven Grant, a quirky British museum gift shop employee, and Marc Spector, an American mercenary and avatar for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu. Actor Oscar Isaac, who portrays Moon Knight, expertly switches between these two very different personalities (give this man an Emmy immediately)! 

Issac said he did a lot of research on the disorder so he could respectfully represent it and put mental illness at the forefront of the show. He said that the memoir “A Fractured Mind" by scholar Robert B. Oxnam, who also has dissociative identity disorder, became his Bible while preparing for the role. 

"I think it was just about being honest to what Dissociative Identity Disorder is, and honest to what a lot of people have to deal with. I think for us it was about authenticity, more than even story communication," he said. "I really wanted to do a character study, a point of view experience, so you’re not sitting back and just watching the story unfold, you are within the eyes of Steven and experiencing this thing that’s happening to him."

Isaac said doing this show hit close to home for him because his uncle suffers from mental health issues. 

"He started crying watching an episode of 'Moon Knight' because, I think, it just felt like being seen," he said in an interview with Esquire Magazine

I also recently learned that Max Bemis, the former frontman of one of my all-time favorite bands Say Anything, wrote several "Moon Knight" comic book issues as part of the Marvel Legacy publishing initiative. Bemis calls Moon Knight, "A book written by a mentally ill Jew about a mentally ill Jew," and said that writing it became his therapy. I have followed Bemis and his struggles with bipolar disorder for at least a decade; in fact, his openness about the disorder was one of the reasons I had the strength to first open up about my own struggles.

As the TV show expands Moon Knight's reach to a whole new following of fans, maybe it will become like therapy for others with mental illnesses — causing them to stop being ashamed, stop feeling alone and to find the inspiration to open up about their mental health as well.

Across social media, you'll see that people have fallen in love with both personalities of the Moon Knight. My hope is that, because of this show, people will show the same love and acceptance when they meet someone in real-life with this or any mental disorder. 

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