In one corner you have Marc Spector, Moon Knight, the servant of the moon god Khonshu. In the other, there’s Bruce Wayne, Batman, the Dark Knight, protector of Gotham City. To those not in the know, the two heroes look strikingly similar on paper. They both have loads of money, which they use to create a myriad of gadgets in their respective wars on crime. They stalk their cities at night, looking to instil fear into the cowardly criminals they come across and they both are willing to beat said criminals into comas. While they shirk away from killing, broken bones and lacerations are certainly in their wheelhouse. Heck, Moon Knight even had a sidekick who “died;” there’s more on that later.
Yet that’s where their similarities end. For years, many comic readers have considered Moon Knight to be a poor man’s Batman, but that’s a characterization that couldn’t be further from the truth. They are both heroes, rich with history and depth, but whereas Batman has pretty much been written consistently throughout the years, Moon Knight has not; he keeps evolving to match the time he’s written in. Here at CBR, we’re going to take a look at 15 ways that showcase how Moon Knight isn’t just another rip-off of Batman, he’s arguably the Caped Crusader’s better.
15. MOON KNIGHT HAS SUPER POWERS
Unlike Batman, who’s really just a guy dressed up as a giant bat who gets his kicks beating criminals senseless, Moon Knight actually has super powers. While he might not be on tier as other street level heroes like Spider-Man, Marc Spector is still a force to be reckoned with. In optimal conditions, he can lift around two tons. His strength varies depending on the phase of the moon and the added strength makes him extra durable.
Additionally, he has a low-level healing factor, similar to Iron Fist; he’s able to manipulate his chi so he can heal faster. Along with his already impressive fighting skills, Marc has a ridiculous tolerance to pain, as seen when he won a fight immediately after the villain Midnight had rammed his hand into Marc’s back and messed with his bones. Additionally, he’s immune to telepathic assaults.
14. MOON KNIGHT IS A DIRTIER FIGHTER
And he’s okay with that. Before Marc Spector was Moon Knight, he was a highly trained mercenary, a former heavyweight-boxing champion, with additional training in Kung Fu, Judo, and Savate. In his military days, Marc was an expert marksman and proficient with a wide range of weapons. Yet, despite all his training, Marc isn’t the world’s greatest fighter. In a world of aliens and irradiated green monsters, it’s all Moon Knight can do to keep up with the rest of the superhero community.
Even non-powered villains like Bulleseye are too skilled for him to take on in a fair fight, but whereas Batman might be insulted by the notion that there’s someone out there better than him, Moon Knight doesn’t care. He doesn’t need to be the best, so long as he gets the job done.
13. HE’S NOT DRIVEN BY GUILT
Rather, Moon Knight is driven by his need to serve his god. When he’s not fighting in the name of Khonshu, Marc fights to protect the innocent if only because someone has to. Unlike Bruce Wayne, driven by his inner demons and the insatiable desire to end all crime to avenge the death of his parents, Moon Knight isn’t haunted in such a way. Those close to him, while they haven’t had it easy, haven’t died. Marc hasn’t lost anyone in the way Bruce has, if anything, his biggest struggle is trying to do right by Khonshu, honoring the god who gave him life once more.
It’s not easy, especially when you throw in Marc’s multiple personalities, but even then, Moon Knight does his utmost to not let the past define him…except for that time Khonshu haunted him as Bushwacker after Moon Knight murdered him. It’s complicated.
12. HE SERVES THE EGYPTIAN MOON GOD
As mentioned earlier, Moon Knight worships Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon. After Marc got killed but Bushwacker in Egypt, his body was brought into a pyramid where it was laid under a statue of Khonshu. Somehow, probably through divine intervention, Spector was brought back to life. Since then, he spent the rest of his days serving his lord, fighting in the name of said deity, and doing his best to protect those who travel at night.
On the flipside, Batman struggles to believe in the supernatural, much less be willing to pray to a god for assistance. Moon Knight is more open to the idea of the impossible; he doesn’t need a clear explanation of what’s happening. He’s willing to accept the unexplainable, whereas Batman needs an answer for everything.
11. MOON KNIGHT LEARNS FROM HIS MISTAKES
Whereas Batman maintains the same approach over and over again, as seen with the Robins he’s hired over the years, Moon Knight learns from his mistakes. Despite Jason Todd’s murder by the Joker during the iconic “Death In The Family” arc and Stephanie Brown’s own “death” as yet another Robin, Batman keeps taking sidekicks under his wing. Recently, Tim Drake was believed dead, but Batman keeps training protégés, hoping things will pan out differently. Moon Knight failed with his sidekick Midnight. Since then, he learned the error of his ways, never taking another sidekick again. It probably helped inform the decision once Midnight returned and attempted to murder him.
While Batman might see himself as a pragmatic being, he’s led more by his emotions than he’s willing to admit, constantly needing someone to fill the void of sidekick. Moon Knight simply needs his friend Jean-Paul DuChamp (a.k.a. Frenchie) to drive him and pilot the Moon-Copter. Otherwise, he’s okay going it solo.
10. HE HAS AN OBSCURE ROGUES GALLERY
Batman comics have some of the greatest villains in all of fiction. From the Joker to Poison Ivy, Batman’s foes are dark and haunting reflections of himself. They represent his, and audiences, deepest fears; they represent the worse possible outcomes for any one of us, and even Bruce, should our paths in life go awry.
Moon Knight’s villains are incredibly obscure. Many of them fail to have any real lasting power, forcing the hero to take on random villain after random villain. Even the casual comic book reader would have difficult coming up with a Moon Knight baddie, much less someone unfamiliar with comics. Aside from Raoul Bushman, Moon Knight’s most famous villain, Moon Knight typically deals with whatever flavor of the month bad guy comes his way.
9. HE WEARS WHITE SO HIS ENEMIES SEE HIM COMING
Whereas Batman likes blending into the shadows, striking fear into his enemies by first instilling them with an overwhelming sense of dread and creeping paranoia, Moon Knight’s approach is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum.
“…I don’t wear white to hide myself, I wear it so they’ll see me coming. So they know who it is, ’cause when they see white it doesn’t matter how good a target I am. Their hands shake so bad, they couldn’t hit the moon.”
This quote comes from Moon Knight Vol. 4, #1 written by Charlie Huston. Huston was responsible for the darker take on the character while Marvel’s first Civil War was going on. Moon Knight wants his opponents to see him coming; he wants to put in the fear of God, or in his case Khonshu, in them.
8. HE WAS A BAD GUY IN HIS FIRST APPEARANCE
Though this fact is debatable. When Moon Knight first appeared in Werewolf By Night #32, his goal was to try and kill the Werewolf, the protagonist of the respective comic. It’s easy to understand why Moon Knight would try to kill him, what with a werewolf running around, especially after Marc had been manipulated by the enigmatic Committee, but even then, the fact that Moon Knight was willing to kill, is pretty indicative of his early characterization.
Until he received his own comic, Moon Knight was an anti-hero at best, and the more his past was fleshed out, the more readers got a real sense about who Marc Spector was. Still most of his superhero friends have a hard time rationalizing Moon Knight, considering him too brutal and edgy to be a part of their club.
7. HE WAS A MERCENARY
Which leads us to Marc Spector’s actual origin. He wasn’t a good guy in his own origin story. Rather, it turns out that before he was Khonshu’s emissary, delivering vengeance upon those who would wrong the innocent, Marc was in fact a mercenary. Highly trained, he took on many a mission, killing many souls along the way. By no means was he a good man; a decent man maybe, with a reasonable moral compass, but certainly not good. In his origin story he, Bushman, and Frenchie go hunting after treasure. Bushman’s willingness to kill innocents to find said treasure is enough for Marc to question his own loyalties and fights Bushman, who “kills” Marc.
Upon getting resurrected by Khonshu, Marc decides to change his path, putting the mercenary life behind him and using his training to do some good. As for Batman? Like most heroes, he started off good and remained good throughout his career.
6. HE LETS THE JOB TAKE HIM WHERE HE’S NEEDED MOST
Batman protects Gotham City. It’s his home. The Dark Knight knows literally every nook and cranny of the nightmarish dreamscape that is Gotham and he would do nearly anything to protect it and the civilians who inhabit it. No matter the crisis, even if it’s the world ending, Batman’s first priority is to Gotham City.
Moon Knight isn’t nearly as territorial as the Caped Crusader. Within the city of New York, many superheroes have own little niches; Daredevil has Hell’s Kitchen, Luke Cage has Harlem, etc. Moon Knight feels no particular allegiance to any specific area; he goes wherever the job takes him and thinks nothing of it. He doesn’t try to protect all of New York City, perfectly aware there are other heroes more than up for the task. He’s fine with fighting villainy in the gutters, the filth that other superheroes overlook.
5. HE’S A MORE GROUNDED SUPERHERO
Batman has time-travelled, fought gods, crossed the breaches between dimensions, and has even fought sharks a couple of times. Despite being a “normal” man, Batman is anything but; these days there is little Batman cannot do and even fewer foes he cannot defeat.
Moon Knight, no matter who’s writing the character, finds himself dealing more with street-level/urban crime. Occasionally he’ll take on something supernatural like ghosts and werewolves, but they make sense for his character, given he regularly has conversations with a moon god. Even so, Moon Knight’s never time travelled, he hates fighting super-powered beings; he sticks primarily to the fights that concern him and the fights he thinks he can win. Unlike Batman, Moon Knight is not unbeatable.
4. HE HAS FEWER PERSONAS
Depending on who’s writing the character, Moon Knight has anywhere from one to ten personalities. In the old days, his disguises Steve Grant and Jake Lockley were just that: disguises. Marc Spector knew the difference between himself and his other identities. Over the years, writers have enjoyed toying with the notion that Moon Knight is just freaking crazy and the personalities are all in his head.
That’s nothing compared to Batman, however. During the Silver Age especially, Batman had dozens of differently colored outfits and each time he wore one, like the Zebra costume or the Pink costume, his personality would become altered. Not to mention his other identity of Matches Malone, the disguise he uses to infiltrate villain lairs, and even his persona of the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh. One of the craziest personalities in all of comics, if you’re unfamiliar with that Batman-flavor of insanity, be sure to look it up.
3. HIS SUPPORTING CAST IS MADE OF AVERAGE PEOPLE
Batman surrounds himself with the best of the best. From Dick Grayson to Alfred Pennyworth, all his supporting cast is made up of highly skilled individuals. Even Commissioner Gordon, despite his chain-smoking, is incredibly talented at his job, helping out Batman a many number of times. Every person in Batman’s life is incredible at either martial arts, technology, subterfuge, medicine, or a combination of all the above.
Then there’s Moon Knight and his friends. Moon Knight surrounds himself with a homeless man, a waitress, an archeologist, and an aged, retired mercenary. Sure, Marlene, the archeologist and the on-again, off-again love interest, can hold her own in a fight, while Frenchie flies the Moon Copter and is there to assist Moon Knight, but Marc hates being assisted and so pretty much keeps them at arms length. If anything, Moon Knight’s entourage serves to boost him up emotionally, helping him when he falls and reminding him of his heroism.
2. MOON KNIGHT IS A BIGGER LONER
Contrary to what Batman would have you believe, he’s not as much a loner, brooding on top of gargoyles, as you might think. He’s been a member of numerous teams, the Justice League, the Justice League International, The Outsiders, and the Justice League of America to name a few. If there’s a team made up of major superhero players, you can bet your Batarangs that Batman is on it or at least involved with said team in some way.
Moon Knight actively stays away from super teams and very few heroes actually want him on their team. Considered crazy and volatile, Moon Knight has only been part of the Secret Avengers and the West Coast Avengers, and in both cases, he didn’t stick around for long. Moon Knight likes being alone and if he had it his way, he’d probably never deal with other superheroes.
1. MOON KNIGHT MAY OR MAY NOT BE CRAZY
Anyone who jumps off roofs dressed as a giant bat probably has a screw or two loose. No matter how you rationalize it, Batman is crazy. Real-life psychologists have examined the character thoroughly and they’ve come to the conclusion that Batman is a loon. Even the Caped Crusader is willing to admit there’s something unhinged about him, as he single-handedly tries to end crime in memory of his dead parents.
With Moon Knight, it’s dealer’s choice whether or not he’s crazy; it depends on the reader. Some modern day writers have Moon Knight as a nutcase, with loads of personalities and everything else in his head. On the other hand, you have the more ambiguous early work, which leaves it to the reader to decide. Does Marc talk to Khonshu? Are his adventures in his head or does he actually battle werewolves? It’s choose your own adventure, Moon Knight style.
What’s your take? Is Moon Knight still just a rip-off of Batman? Is he actually better? Let us know what your take is in the comments!