In Winter Soldier, a Hydra double agent mentioned several targets they considered a threat and one popular theory may have been disproven
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Moon Knight Episode 1 “The Goldfish Problem,” streaming now on Disney+.
Jasper Sitwell was a Hydra agent who posed as a high ranking SHIELD administrator and was intimately aware of the real purpose behind Project Insight. The initiative was helmed by Arnim Zola who designed an algorithm to analyze personal data siphoned from private and public digital information, then used that data to forecast an individual’s personal behavior. Employing three bleeding edge helicarriers, Hydra agents embedded in key positions within SHIELD would use the algorithm to choose targets considered as current or future threats to Hydra and eliminate them en masse. The inaugural deployment chartered more than 700,000 people scheduled for termination.
Cap, Widow and Falcon were able to intimidate Sitwell into providing this information but he also described a few people specifically, some by name. One of them was Bruce Banner, but one of the other individuals he mentioned was described as a TV anchor based in Cairo. A prevailing theory among many was that this was a reference to Marc Spector, the alias of Moon Knight, but the first episode of the new series would suggest that this speculation was perhaps premature.
Steven Grant is a shy and lonely man living in a London flat where he sleeps on bed that sits on a mound of fresh sand while ankle chained to a pillar. He tapes his door shut to determine at a glance whether or not he has been sleep walking since he has been waking up in strange places with no idea of how he got there or why. Grant is employed by a museum where he mans the gift shop though he has shown a talent and enthusiasm for the Egyptian exhibitons and would like to become a tour guide. He spends his time second guessing himself, correcting people about his name, leaving messages on his mother’s answering machine and engaging in lively conversations with fish and mute living statues.
He is also one of Marc Spector’s identities and the principal one introduced to audiences in the series’ first episode. Grant and Spector share one body and the disparaging voice of Khonshu constantly rings out in Steven’s mind referring to him as a parasite and an idiot. One scene in which Grant unknowingly stole a scarab while his other identity was in control depicted several blackouts that resulted in Steven coming back to himself at the end of violence he committed. Standing in a ring of bodies or driving a van with a corpse in the back that had just been trying to kill him moments ago, Grant slides in and out of his personality with no concept of his other self or the identity of the cruel god rattling around in his head.
This would seem to dispel that either personality had ever been an anchor on TV since the Spector identity seems to be aligned with the mercenary aspect from the source material. It is only the first episode and it is unclear as of yet if either identity is the original one or if it is limited to just these two. In the comics there are more, including a cab driver named Jake Lockley and a personality called Mr. Knight. Images of Mr. Knight, a man clad in an all white suit and wearing a mask with a crescent on the brow confirm that it will be included in the show’s run but it would also seem unlikely that any of the aforementioned identities would also be the mysterious anchor mentioned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Most of the impetus behind the theory came from the mention of Cairo and rumors that had been swirling in the ether that a Moon Knight project might be in the works. A frothy eagerness for the rumblings to be true convinced many to ignore the fact that none of Moon Knight’s various personalities had ever been a television anchor. In defense of the idea, there are many ways in which the characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe differ greatly from their Earth-616 counterparts, so substituting one profession for another is not an impassable obstacle narratively speaking. Though Spector’s work as a mercenary typically kept him in South America and Africa continentally speaking, Cairo itself was not necessarily a nexus point for him, but the Egyptian reference carried a lot of weight.
The fact that Sitwell also mentioned Doctor Stephen Strange as one of the targets poured fuel on the fire, because at the time of the movie’s release there had been no public mention of the Sorcerer Supreme joining the MCU. In this one pivotal piece of dialogue the double agent invoked a known quantity in Banner, a specific name in Doctor Strange and an unknown but oddly specific set of references to a high school valedictorian in Iowa City and a tv anchor in Cairo. Strange felt like a bonus piece of foreshadowing so the other two seemed worthy of sleuthing consideration.
While the Iowa City reference held zero resonance, Cairo sparked thoughts of Egyptian gods and their earthly avatars as it relates to Marvel continuity. Moon Knight has a smaller but zealot fan base that always wanted to see him represented in the MCU but due to his willingness to maim and kill his opponents it seemed unlikely that he would gain a roster spot in the cinematic role call. After Disney officially sanctioned the dark cousins of Daredevil and his Defenders from Netflix purgatory it became clear that the studio was making room for grim content and Moon Knight might stay true to its bloody origins.
To see the anchor from Cairo remain a mystery, Moon Knight is streaming now on Disney+, new episodes airing on Wednesdays.
KEEP READING: CBR’s Moon Knight Guide: News, Easter Eggs, Reviews, Theories and Rumors
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