Moon Knight and Dissociative Identity Disorder


Kira Corona, Journalist

Warning! Moon Knight spoilers ahead!

The most recent Marvel show, Moon Knight, was undoubtedly a hit among Marvel enjoyers. It combined cheeky humor, action, mystery and adventure with dark and intense topics. Moon Knight tells the story of Marc Spector and Steven Grant, two separate entities who share the same body struggling to overcome the combined mental chaos of two alters. But with these heavy discussions of mental disorders, it is questionable how accurate the portrayal of DID (dissociative identity disorder) in Moon Knight is. Did the filmmakers do their research to make an authentic character free of the stereotypes that surround DID in the media? Or did the show follow the harmful notions of this disorder like many other productions in the past? Let’s find out!

Dissociative Identity disorder (DID) is defined as having multiple identities, most often as result of childhood trauma and the brain’s inability to develop in early growth. A person who experiences DID is most commonly referred to as a “system” of alters. The disorder was renamed from Multiple Personality Disorder because the system experiences switches from true individuals with separate identities, not just a personality fluctuation. Without a doubt, DID is by far one of the most misunderstood mental disorders, especially because of its inaccurate portrayal in the media and lack of education surrounding the condition. That’s why in modern times, its representation is so important. From Jekyll and Hyde in 1886 to Split in 2016, DID has always been seen as a horror, thriller, and psychological topic. That’s what makes Moon Knight a rare case. It’s rather about two superheroes rather than one, with complex stories free of the stigma around DID.

However, as well as the disorder portrayed by Oscar Issac in terms of switching, trauma, and identity, the depiction of the two characters living their lives may be inaccurate. According to Kelly Caniglia, a licensed mental health counselor and DID advocate, it is more common for alters to be aware of the host personality while the host personality has no idea there are alters, so seeing as Steven is an alter created by Marc (the host), it is unlikely that Steven would be unaware of Marc’s existence and it would be the other way around. Caniglia also mentions that alters are aware of important details, even though they may not be familiar with the host’s life, Steven would remember Layla because of her significance in Marc’s life. But nonetheless, everyone experiences DID differently, and though Marc creating Steven may be uncommon and the lack of awareness of the other personalities is unlikely, it is still on track for some medical research of DID. 

It is later revealed in the show that there is a third identity among Marc and Steven, Jake Lockley. But his late and gruesome appearance may be insensitive to the notion that people with DID have a “crazy one” with superhuman strength and murderous intent, similar to the movie Split. Marc’s knowledge of killing and crime comes from his life as a mercenary, but the audience knows nothing about Jake, and neither Marc and Steven knew about him. This is perhaps one of the offensive remarks about DID in Moon Knight. Jake is the only alter who kills without reason, and exhibits violence with no particular intent, which is a common pattern in depictions of DID across the media. In the post credit scene in the show, it is revealed that Khonshu is trying to get Moon Knight back through Jake, unbeknownst to Marc and Steven. Hopefully if another season is released after this cliffhanger, we will know a little more about Jake and his motives and Marvel will be able to redeem themselves. 

Personally, I enjoyed Moon Knight and being able to see a character with accurate and relatable internal struggles. The story wasn’t solely focused on DID, it was an element that added to the epic superhero action and story of Egyptian mythology. Oscar Issac was a phenomenal actor throughout the show and he put together what it means to live with DID. Overall, Moon Knight was a success that should be seen not for its flaws in the portrayal of DID, but for its achievements. Moon Knight will return!