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How does Marvel's "Moon Night" get such a fair Arab representation

How does Marvel’s “Moon Night” get such a fair Arab representation

Egyptian-Palestinian actress May El-Jelmawy, who plays Laila El-Fouly on the Disney+ series, credits Moon Knight director Mohamed Diab and Marvel, who took on the task of rewriting the narrative with the right kind of history. It correctly represents Egypt and all of its legendary history. But it was also the Kalmawi area [SPOILER] which brought its own nuances to the character who eventually took on the mantle of the Scarlet Scarab, the protector of Egypt.

May Al-Jelmawy as Laila Al-Fawali in “Moon Night”.
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

“I get messages from people thanking me and saying, ‘It’s so good to see someone who looks like me. And this is interesting, because for me, you are still one of each other,” Al Kalmawi told Gulf News in a Zoom. a call.

The origins of the super hero

Picture of “Moon Night”
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Moon Knight, as a character, was first introduced in 1975, in the comic strip “Werewolf by Night”. Shrouded in mystery for decades, unlike Marvel’s more vibrant superheroes, the adaptation of the miniseries surprised many fans. And unlike the studio’s lighter, family-friendly content, Moon Knight — directed by Oscar Isaacs — appears as the dark tale of a man with DID who shares the body of Mark Spector, a former mercenary and an avatar of Khoncho, the Egyptian god of the moon and vengeance.

Being immersed in Egyptian mythology, Marvel Studios made sure the writer’s room was full of research materials to help the writing team. They received not only all the comics in which the Moon Knight appeared, but also many reference books on ancient Egyptian culture and various Egyptian deities. Experts visited regularly, including an Egyptian archaeologist, to fully understand the story.

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Moon Night director Mohamed Diab with May Al-Jelmawy
Image credit: Disney

Egyptian writer Diab, whose directorial works include “Cairo 678”, “Amira” and “Clash”, now holds the title of the first Arab director to launch the Marvel Project. Speaking about what prompted him to direct the show, Diab said he was fascinated by the main character’s internal struggle, but on a macro level, also with what it meant for his country.

“It is great to be able to present the heritage of ancient Egypt and its modern culture in a new and authentic way, because most of the time Egypt has not been portrayed as it really is. But aside from the comics and the way Marvel Studios handles things, I can tell they go the extra mile to be as original as possible.”


May Al-Jelmawy as Laila Al-Fawali in “Moon Night”.
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Al-Jelmawi, 35, born in Bahrain, was impressed with the whole experience, while also grateful that filming was a learning experience for her with the much deserved lesson of proper acting.

“this is [playing an Egyptian superhero] It is just huge for me and comes with a lot of self acceptance. During filming, I could feel my confidence grow. And in the end, I felt like I got a real gift, that we all deserve this space, that we deserve to be there and express ourselves more fully.

Hearing on social networks

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May Jelmaoui
Image credit: Disney

Many in the UAE may recognize Kalmawi as the star of the 2013 Toby Hopper movie “The Djinn,” which has been described as the first horror movie to be made here. But the actress was already a household name in the UAE cinema circle, working on short films and TV projects between 2009 and 2014, spending time in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

After moving to the United States to pursue acting, Kalmawi starred in several television projects, including the 2017 National Geographic series “The Long Road Home”, as well as the Tea Leone-directed series “Madam Secretary”.

But in 2018, her first big break came with a role in the comedy drama “Rami” in Hulu, where she played Ramy’s sister, Dina Hassan, which then led to her role in Moon Knight as the first Arab. . Superheroes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Mai Al-Jalamawi in Moon Night
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kalmawi opened up about waiting to audition on Instagram.

Mohamed Diab’s wife Sarah [Goher, who also served as a consulting producer on ‘Moon Knight’] He texted me on Instagram, like, “My husband is interested in you on this Marvel show.” I asked my boss if it was real – because you get a lot of weird stuff on Instagram! She went fishing and was like, ‘Okay, that’s for real, and I’ve got you an audition.


Amit with the voice of Saba Mubarak in Moon Night
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

What finally pushed him into the role was how Diab and his wife championed Laila as a channel to represent Egypt on screen and El Kalmawy was up to the challenge. on his own terms.

“I remember telling Oscar I didn’t want to be inspired by someone in the West like Angelina Jolie in ‘Tomb Raider’. I think it’s cool, but everyone was comparing us, and even there are similarities, I wanted to bring our word-of-mouth tell us about the nuances of the screen. “It’s so nice to see women from different cultures and it was important to bring those differences out on screen. It was really important to me.


May El Kalmawy and Oscar Isaac in “Moon Night”
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

This means that the Arab actress was eager to work on everything from accents to hairstyles. “Our women [Egyptians] They have curly hair and we often change their appearance. [During the shoot] I would face my own desire to tame the frizz, and I really had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t about me or my insecurity. It’s just about letting others feel visible. And it’s the best feeling when someone tells me they appreciate it. I feel my job is done here.


Oscar Isaac on his transformation into Moon Night

Director Mohamed Diab 1658831217969

Oscar Ishaq with director Mohamed Diab in a behind-the-scenes photo from Moon Knight
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

American actor Oscar Isaac explores the dark places to become Stephen Grant, a man with a separatist identity disorder that turns him into Mark Spector, a former mercenary and eventually an avatar of Khuncho, the Egyptian moon god and vengeance.

“The first step was to read a lot about people with DID, and just to understand what it’s like to live with it and how it manifests,” Isaac said during an informational roundtable. , while talking about how he prepared for the role.


Ethan Hawke as Arthur Harrow and Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

“It was about finding a Stephen character that I’d like to play for a very long time, because I knew it was going to be a long shot. I saw an opportunity to create a really different kind of character than what I played with. From before. And so once I found it, it was about finding a counterpoint to that, who Mark was, and how to make it as contradictory as possible.

Switching between two distinct personalities wasn’t easy for the 43-year-old actor, but he eventually came up with a system that works for him. “I asked if we could stay in one character when we were filming. I mean, if we could that week, or at least that day. And then, I wondered. I felt more comfortable.


Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight and Ethan Hawke as Arthur Harrow in ‘Moon Knight’
Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Like Moon Knight star May El Galmawi, Isaac was keen to lend credibility to a story that seeped into Egyptian lore.

When I spoke to Kevin Feige [President of Marvel Studios], before he even started, he was very passionate about Egyptian traditions and Egyptian mythology and that this was a chance to really dive into this world. And, of course, in the West, there were great adventures about archaeological adventures like “Indiana Jones,” “Tomb Raider,” and “The Mummy.” So obviously we were aware of this stuff, but I think there was an opportunity to try to do something different. And the most different thing is that there is someone to guide him from the area.

“So to hire Mohamed Diab [director] The right decision was to bring the show’s true authenticity and a truly modern point of view. It is not just the same old Western idea and the same idea of ​​Egyptian history.

Do not miss it!

‘Moon Knight’ is broadcasting on Disney+ in the UAE

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