Moon Knight’s Khonshu is Even Less True to Mythology Than Thor

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Marvel’s Khonshu is a staple of Moon Knight stories, but Marvel’s depiction of this actual god from Egyptian Mythology takes huge liberties.

When it comes to mythological characters like Thor, Marvel famously takes liberties with existing narratives, partially so they can own a distinct version of a character other publishers otherwise have an equal right to use, but even with lesser-known deities like Moon Knight‘s savior, the Egyptian god Khonshu, the comics tend to depend on artistic license. Marvel Comics has traditionally approached the concept of gods from more of a science fiction angle, but the god Moon Knight worships is often shown in a much more mysterious and mystical light. Moon Knight is Khonshu’s avatar, and is granted protection from death as he carries out Khonshu’s holy vengeance, but how does Egyptian mythology’s Khonshu compare?


Egyptian Mythology is more complicated than most people realize, due in part to the fact that most deities were worshiped across all of Egypt by different groups, each of which had different interpretations of the gods they pledged fealty to. Some of the earlier accounts of Khonshu as written in the Pyramid Texts depict Khonshu as a god with an insatiable thirst for blood. In the Cannibal Hymn, Khonshu is shown making a deal with a deceased pharaoh to kill and cannibalize other Egyptian deities, increasing Khonshu’s power and granting the power of the dead gods to the deceased pharaoh, but later on, Khonshu is no longer associated with violence.

Related: Moon Knight Has A Unique Advantage Over Every Other MCU Adaptation

Considered the son of creator gods Amun and Mut, Khonshu was part of the Theban Triad, which was widely worshiped in Thebes. Similar to the Egyptian god Ptah, Khonshu was often depicted as a mummy with Green Skin. He was also depicted with a side-lock of hair to show his youthfulness and was often seen with a crescent necklace and staff representing stability and power. Sometimes Khonshu was also depicted with the head of an Eagle or Falcon – something the comics echo with modern depictions of a bird-skull head. Interestingly, not unlike Moon Knight and his multiple personas, an inscription known as the Bentresh Stela depicts Khonshu’s different aspects interacting with each other, implying that in some beliefs Khonshu was inhabited by multiple aspects at once.

Khonshu Moon Knight

Marvel’s Khonshu is first mentioned in 1980’s Moon Knight #1 written by Doug Moench and drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz. In the first issue of Moon Knight’s first ongoing series which depicts his origin, Marc Spector finds himself fatally injured after a brutal clash with a former ally in the desert. Found broken and possibly dead at the foot of a statue of Khonshu, Marc makes a miraculous recovery, dedicating himself to the Egyptian moon god. Marvel’s Khonshu has been shown taking on human form throughout history, and steering things to his ultimate gain, which outside of his appearance in the Cannibal Hymn, is relatively unknown to the Khonshu of antiquity. As revealed in Avengers Vol 8 #35, Marc Spector is only one in a long line of Khonshu’s Avatars on Earth, dating all the way back to 1,000,000 BC, which obviously far predates Egyptian culture.

Marvel’s Khonshu is defined by attributes of jealousy, vengeance, and secrecy, often playing with Marc’s mind, and suggested at times to be the cause of Moon Knight’s mental illness (though more recent stories reject this.) Marvel’s Khonshu is a morally gray character, and while Moon Knight is a hero, Khonshu’s motivations are at times villainous, sometimes taking over Marc’s body without his knowledge. This is adverse to the commonly accepted attributes of the mythological Khonshu, who is almost universally hailed as the god of the Moon, time, fertility, and healing.

Khonshu is one of the gods in Egyptian cosmology who helped create the universe and was referred to by some of his Theban worshipers as the “Greatest God of the Great Gods” for his role in the creation and protection of life. The Khonshu of antiquity would make an excellent deity for a superhero to pay fealty to, but Marvel’s Khonsu is much bloodier, and edgier than the god that was worshiped across ancient Egypt. Like Thor, Marvel makes Khonshu its own, but unlike the warrior son of Odin from Norse mythology, Moon Knight‘s patron deity is far more alien to the most prevalent depictions of the god found in Egyptian mythology.

Next: Moon Knight Has a Unique Advantage Over Every Other MCU Adaptation

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