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Moon Knight Without the R-Rating? Here’s How It Could Still Succeed

By Mabel Judith Andrady
March 28,2022

Some Moon Knight fans had doubts about the show’s inclusion on Disney+ when it was first announced two years ago. In particular, because Disney+ initially prohibited R-rated content, Moon Knight was limited to a PG-13 rating and thus rendered “neutral.”

As a result of Moon Knight’s comic book violence, many believe the upcoming series should be more like Daredevil. Some have even compared his actions to those of serial killer Frank Castle.

In spite of Disney’s new parental controls, it’s too late for Moon Knight. The film finished production long before the new controls were implemented. According to series creator Jeremy Slater, all of the show’s content will remain PG-13 and “appropriate for all ages.”

Why does the show work so well without so much bloodshed? What is it about Moon Knight that has convinced so many people online that he needs to be so brutal? One heinous act of violence committed by the vigilante in the comics has for over a decade altered the perception of Moon Knight as a character.

The Once-and-Future Moon Knight Slashed A Man’s Face

Moon Knight Comics

Moon Knight Comics

In “Moon Knight” #2 (2006) by Charlie Huston, Marc Spector kills his nemesis Bushman by cutting off his face graphically. This is the only reason most online users advocate for this new series to be R-Rated.

Unfortunately, whenever this scene is brought up, the proper perspective for Spector’s actions is missing, which is very frustrating. This story arc, titled “The Bottom,” features Marc Spector at his lowest ebb. The only reason he was able to make it this far was due to his actions towards Bushman.

All of Spector’s friends deserted him after he broke both of his legs and cut off his arch enemy’s face while fighting the man. To get back into Khonshu’s good graces, Moon Knight did what he did, which is clearly stated in the plot summary.

Moon Knight Issue #6

To satisfy his bloody vengeance, Khonshu manipulated the entire encounter to make Spector even more obedient to him. As a result, Spector’s decision to sever Bushman’s head was an aberration.

A hero? That’s what Spector insisted upon when the truth of the matter was finally revealed to him. Spector’s relationship with his god, his friends, allies, and, most notably, himself is one of his many ongoing conflicts as a character.

Moon Knight Marvel Comics #6

Moon Knight Comics Issue #6

Many writers after Huston have made at least one cheeky or overt reference to this incident because of its importance to the character’s history and identity. Author Jed Mackay couldn’t help but include an 8-ball pleading with Moon Knight not to cut off his face even in the most recent relaunch of the character.

Moon Knight Issue #1

Moon Knight Issue #1

Even more amusing is how Moon Knight fans sound like Khonshu, as they call on the vigilantes to unleash more carnage.

Khonshu Wants Marc Spector To Be Rated R As Well

He also portrayed Khonshu as a genuinely vengeful god, berates Spector for not dousing the streets in the blood of the guilty, by the same writer. Spector spared Taskmaster in “The Bottom” as a slap in the face for what he had done to Bushman, so when he had the opportunity to do the same to another villain, he took it.

To which Khonshu retorted, “Namby-pamby crap” by his Fist of Vengence, which left Taskmaster with his face intact. With his back against the fourth wall, Khonshu accuses Spector of letting himself “be dropped from the b-list to the d list” by fans over the years.

Moon Knight Comics Issue #6

Moon Knight Comics Issue #6

It’s truly the case that Moon Knight isn’t a household name outside of a small group of comic book fans, and that he hasn’t had much of an effect on the cultural zeitgeist. This is why Khonshu is working to have his avatar transformed into a proper Fist of Vengeance in order to raise the public’s awareness of Moon Knight.

However, it worked in that the one thing Moon Knight did in the comics—cutting a man’s face off—is seemingly the only thing Moon Knight is remembered for doing, even though the story was shaping it as something Moon Knight should and does not do.

Even though Spector does kill in the comics, he isn’t as zealous about it as Frank Castle. Khonshu himself had even made disparaging comparisons between the two parties in “Why can’t you be more like [The Punisher]?” she asks him in “Vengeance of Moon Knight” #5. I’m sure he feeds his god well.”

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics

Heroes Aren’t Defined by Their Role in Conflict

So, what exactly justifies the R-rating of Moon Knight? It’s rare for him to be as vicious as he was to Bushman throughout the character’s history in the comics. Moon Knight’s long-time adversary, Spector, was a one-off incident that doesn’t define him as a character.

Small blood splatters from beating up baddies or people being shot are the most common form of violence in Moon Knight comics. However, Charlie Huston, Mike Benson, Warren Ellis, and Max Bemis have all pushed the boundaries of violence.

In those comics, the violence and gore never felt like it was necessary for the story or character. Huston and Bemis, on the other hand, used violence to demonstrate the path Moon Knight should not take and the trauma that can result from witnessing such horrific violence.

Outside of those writers, the brutality in the vigilante’s comics is relatively low, especially in the comic series Moon Knight, from which it is rumored to have drawn its inspiration. ‘ The only blood in Jeff Lemire’s “Moon Knight” was from a character bleeding from the neck, like the rest of the story, focused solely on Spector’s mental state, his past, and his deteriorating relationship with Khonshu.

Moon Knight Issue #10

Moon Knight Issue #10

Rather than focusing on any specific acts of extreme violence, the best stories in Moon Knight focus on Spector, the individual and his interactions with family, friends, and the god he worships. For those who are hoping to see Moon Knight slitting the throat or chopping off the faces of criminals, they should accept that this isn’t who the superhero is and isn’t what Marvel Studios has in mind.

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