Marvel Writer Who Confirmed Moon Knight’s Jewish Background Addresses Fan Concerns Over Oscar Isaac Casting: “I Don’t Care”

Alan Zelenetz, the writer who originally introduced Moon Knight’s Jewish heritage into Marvel canon, has revealed that he does not particularly care if the character’s upcoming Disney Plus series remains faithful to this aspect of the Fist of Konshu’s identity.

Oscar Isaac as Moon Knight in Marvel Studios’ MOON KNIGHT. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

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A school-teacher-turned-comic-book-writer, Zelenetz was a brief member of the Marvel bullpen during the 1980s, creating Alien Legion for the publisher’s Epic Comics imprint and authoring notable runs on such core series as The Mighty Thor, Kull the Conqueror, and, of course, Moon Knight.

Zelenetz established Moon Knight’s Jewish background in Moon Knight # 37 (1984).

Source: Moon Knight Vol. 1 # 37 “Red Sins” (1984), Marvel Comics. Cover art by Michael Kaluta.

Therein, Marc Spector – the white-clad vigilante’s alter ego – recalls that his parents “came to America just after Hitler’s goosesteppers turned Czechoslovakia into a German puppet” during World War II, and that his father was an “ordained rabbi” who “went on to become a brilliant scholar in the Kabalah, Jewish mysticism ”.

“In America, he was lucky just to be alive,” Spector adds.

Source: Moon Knight Vol. 1 # 37 “Red Sins” (1984), Marvel Comics. Words by Alan Zelenetz, art by Bo Hampton, Armando Gil, and Ben Sean.

The issue also sees Spector save a Rabbi and a Torah scroll from a burning synagogue, which he discovers was set alight by a group of anti-Semitic thugs

Source: Moon Knight Vol. 1 # 37 “Red Sins” (1984), Marvel Comics. Words by Alan Zelenetz, art by Bo Hampton, Armando Gil, and Ben Sean.

Further, between issue # 37 and its follow-up – which also serves as the end of Moon Knight’s first volume – Zelenetz introduced the villainous Zohar, a man who studied the Jewish mystic teachings of the Kabbalah under Spector’s father before becoming obsessed with keeping the information to himself.

Source: Moon Knight Vol. 1 # 38 “Final Rest” (1984), Marvel Comics. Words by Alan Zelenetz, art by Bo Hampton, Armando Gil, and Christie Scheele.

Zelenetz made public his indifference to the Disney Plus Moon Knight series respecting his source material during an interview with Forward culture reporter PJ Grisar given in reflection of the live-action adaptations upcoming premiere.

As Grisar turned to discuss the pre-emptive outrage from fans who accused Isaac’s casting as the Crescent Crusader as an erasure of his Jewish identity, Zelenetz asserted that Marvel is “certainly not bound by any origins.”

Source: Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant / Marc Spector in Marvel Studios’ MOON KNIGHT. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

“All of a sudden the Jews need to be represented, Moon Knight has to be Jewish,” said Zelenetz, going on to mockingly mimic some of the rhetoric he had seen surrounding the series’ casting decision. “’Oh, we’m watching Marvel! The boycott is around the corner. ‘ I can smell blood in the water already! ‘How could they not make him Jewish? Oscar Isaac is not Jewish, even though he has the name ‘Isaac.’ And they’ve got an Egyptian director – what’s going on here? ‘”

Source: Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant and Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) in Marvel Studios’ MOON KNIGHT. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

He then declared, “So he’s not Jewish and he will not be Jewish, and Arthur Harrow [an original Zelenetz character who will be portrayed by Ethan Hawke on the small screen] will not be the character I created. So what? ”

“If he’s not Jewish because there’s a good artistic reason he’s not Jewish, that’s perfectly OK,” he added. “I do not care.”

Source: Moon Knight Vol. 7 # 5 “Scarlet” (2014), Marvel Comics. Words by Warren Ellis, art by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire.

Zelenetz concluded by proposing that, if Marvel does confirm Spector’s Jewish lineage, “the series would be a great place to explore an ancient Egyptian God and a Jew.”

“Maybe the ancient Egyptian God wants to make up for all those ancient Egyptians who could not keep up with Moses!” he playfully opined. “That would be a good storyline.”

Source: Moon Knight Vol. 7 # 5 “Scarlet” (2014), Marvel Comics. Words by Warren Ellis, art by Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire.

What do you make of Zelenetz’s indifference to Disney potentially shifting away from Spector’s Jewish identity? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments below!

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