“Moon Knight” director Mohamed Diab originally pitched the Disney+ series to focus heavily on Egypt.
Why? Because to him, the nation and culture have been “inauthentically portrayed throughout Hollywood’s history,” as Diab told SFX Magazine.
The most recent example of such “orientalism,” as Diab pointed out, was seen in Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman 1984,” which featured depictions deemed by some as stereotypes in a sequence supposedly set in Egypt.
“You never see Cairo. You always see Jordan shot for Cairo, Morocco shot for Cairo, sometimes Spain shot for Cairo. This really angers us,” Diab said. “I remember seeing ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ and there was a big sequence in Egypt and it was a disgrace for us. You had a sheik — that doesn’t make any sense to us. Egypt looked like a country from the Middle Ages. It looked like the desert.”
Diab directs four of the six episodes for Disney+’s comic book adaptation of Marvel series “Moon Knight,” starring Oscar Isaac in the titular role as a mercenary who becomes possessed by the Egyptian moon god Khonshu. Diab previously helmed the films “Cairo 678” and “Amira.”
Egypt and the character of Moon Knight are intrinsically entwined because “it’s part of the comic book. It’s part of how he gets his powers. It’s ingrained in it,” Diab added.
“There was definitely room to play [in ‘Moon Knight’] but keep it as authentic as possible, in the realm of being fantastical,” Diab continued. “Even in the original comic books, they did a great job of researching and trying to make Egypt authentic.”
As for Western cinema, the culture is “always exotic” and presented in a very specific light, the director noted. “We call it orientalism. It dehumanizes us,” Diab said. “We are always naked, we are always sexy, we are always bad, we are always over the top.”
“Moon Knight” premieres March 30 on Disney+.
“Wonder Woman” star Gal Gabot, who is Israeli, is teaming up again with director Jenkins for Paramount Pictures’ “Cleopatra” epic. Following backlash that included accusations of whitewashed casting, Gadot said that Macedonian casting choices were slim.
“First of all, if you want to be true to the facts, then Cleopatra was Macedonian,” Gadot explained. “We were looking for a Macedonian actress that could fit Cleopatra. She wasn’t there, and I was very passionate about Cleopatra.”
Gadot added, “I have friends from across the globe, whether they’re Muslims or Christian or Catholic or atheist or Buddhist, or Jewish of course. People are people, and with me I want to celebrate the legacy of Cleopatra and honor this amazing historic icon that I admire so much.”
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