Actress May Calamawy’s beloved Layla El-Faouly almost didn’t appear in the popular streaming series Moon Knight, drastically changing the course and popularity of the show.
Marvel’s Moon Knight, starring superhero alum Oscar Isaac (Star Wars, Ex Machina) and Hollywood legend Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Before Sunrise), has taken the Marvel Universe by storm, shaking the foundations of the Marvel collection with the mind-bending ending of episode four, The Tomb.
No fan was expecting to see Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) appear in an insane asylum amongst numerous of his co-stars, including himself, Steven Grant, at the end of Moon Knight‘s episode four.
But, one of the most prevalent characters, Layla, was never meant to appear in the series at all.
Egyptian actress May Calamawy is a new fan favorite, instantly becoming an internet sensation after her Marvel debut in Moon Knight‘s episode two, Summon the Suit.
However, Layla El-Faouly doesn’t exist anywhere among Marvel’s extensive collection of heroes, villains, and characters. She shouldn’t even appear in the streaming series, as Marlene Alraune was Marc Spector’s original love interest in the comics.
Moon Knight‘s director Mohamed Diab reveals the significant change to Marlene’s existence:
“It started even on the page as a white woman and when we came on board, me and Sarah, she was then changed into half Egyptian and we pushed it. Let’s make it into an Egyptian character and they welcomed that.”
Bringing newfound Egyptian representation to Marlene’s character, actress May Calamawy reflects on director Mohamed Diab and Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige always supporting her efforts to bring Layla into the existence of the MCU with a fresh perspective:
“Anytime I felt uncomfortable, I would go talk to [Mohamed] and his wife and I love how Kevin Feige gave us the freedom to share that, let people know, ‘This is not what it’s like, if we do that it’s gonna be a stereotype.’ I realized quite early on this is a space where my voice was going to be heard and that’s the best feeling.”
Ms. Calamawy was also evident on not wanting her Layla character to fall into the classic trope of modern female heroes like Lara Croft, insisting on bringing the “soft strength” that Middle Eastern women portray to her Indiana Jones-like figure (always on the hunt for the missing treasure, but “it belongs in a museum!”):
“I was careful not to draw inspiration from someone in the West because they want me to bring my side. In the Middle East, I find women have such a soft strength to them. And I was like, ‘How can I bring this to her? Why should I sit and copy what I think Angelina Jolie would do?’ Every woman I know is a bunch of dichotomies, and I wanted to bring that.”
Nonetheless, it’s not an exaggeration to state that Layla is the most popular Moon Knight character, as even Marvel shared an appreciation post for the actress on numerous social media platforms:
Gotta love #LaylaElFaouly
— Moon Knight (@moonknight) April 15, 2022
Marvel isn’t the only one obsessed with Layla (someone that was almost scrapped from the series!):
May Calamawy appreciation post.
— Binge Watch This (@BingeWatchThis_) April 20, 2022
Another fan wrote:
May Calamawy as Layla El-Faouly appreciation post
— BatKnight66 (@batknight66) April 21, 2022
Another fan hilariously wrote:
Steven watching Layla throughout the entire episode
— каролина | 13 days till dr strange (@karasnapensii) April 21, 2022
Many viewers of Moon Knight are praising the actresses’ range in acting, switching between an adrenaline-filled archaeologist to an emotionally driven wife of Marc Spector who’s trying to save her marriage while protecting Steven Grant, her new love interest (who is still technically her husband in a weird way, right?).
Nonetheless, Layla is essentially a copy of the Marvel comics character Marlene but given a deeper and richer backstory and character development seen throughout this limited series.
The Marvel future is bright for all of the series stars. Onto the next adventures of Moon Knight!
More about Moon Knight
Moon Knight follows Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, who becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life. Steven discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector.
Moon Knight stars Oscar Isaac (Marc Spector/Moon Knight, Steven Grant/Mr. Knight), Ethan Hawke (Arthur Harrow), and May Calamawy (Layla El-Faouly). Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Grant Curtis, Brad Winderbaum, Oscar Isaac, Mohamed Diab, and Jeremy Slater are the executive producers, Trevor Waterson and Rebecca Kirsch serve as co-executive producers. Jeremy Slater serves as head writer.
The Marvel Universe is becoming much more than iconic characters/Earth’s Mightiest Heroes like Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson).
Tom Holland’s Avenger, Spider-Man, is leading the way for Marvel Cinematic Universe newcomers Kate Bishop, Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac), Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn), She-Hulk (Tatiana Maslany), Eternals’ Thena (Angelina Jolie), and more — especially with his next Spider-Man trilogy that’s currently in the works.