Imagine waiting decades for one of your favorite comics to come to life on screen. Not only were audiences thrilled to finally have Doug Moench and Don Perlin’s Moon Knight finally adapted into an accomplished series from Disney+, but it brought in new audiences who were unfamiliar with the story. For someone like me, the costumes from Meghan Kasperlik were the perfect gateway into the latest Marvel obsession, and her designs are unlike anything we have ever seen from the famed superhero studio. A previous nominee for Mare of Easttown and Fahrenheit 451, Kasperlik provides amazing texture and history to these pieces.
I joked with Kasperlik early in our conversation that I would’ve been nervous for so many white costumes, assuming that something would go wrong right away. She didn’t share my concern because she knew her and her team made enough versions of the costumes to keep her covered.
“I wasn’t afraid of the white as much as other people were. I did Watchmen, and Lady True was predominantly in white and shades of green. The first time her costumer seemed nervous. With Mr. Knight, I knew we were going to be shooting at night and on some cobblestone street. I knew he would be landing on the street, so I knew we needed to make a lot of them. Since everyone loved the costume so much–including Oscar [Isaac]–he just was naturally in the sands of Egypt and then in Cairo on the streets. We had 47 versions of those between Oscar and his two stunt people. I believe we used all but two of them.”
Since there was so much anticipation for this series, Kasperlik couldn’t allow the pressure to get to her. You cannot fool the devout, Marvel fanbase, she knew that she wanted to enhance the experience for the audience.
“I don’t think anyone who goes into something like this can start with the pressure. I don’t think I felt it until one of the producers told me that the costumes have to be epic. They are all epic! We had to make sure that they looked great, because this was the character’s introduction to the MCU. I was nervous because I took a slightly different approach than other Marvel jobs in the sense that it wasn’t vacuformed together. I wanted a lot of depth and texture to make them three dimensional. When the press started happening, I thought to myself, “Well, here we go!”
The final moments of episode one are epic. As Steven gives control of his body to his “reflection” to fight a jackal summoned by Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow. We see the back of him at first, and then he turns to walk towards the camera as the credits begin to roll. We don’t exactly know who this crusader is yet, but he makes quite an entrance into the series. Immediately we see cascading texture and an intense hood. Kasperlik knew it was a moment that she had to nail.
“I knew he had to make an impact, because it is a light grey color. If there was no texture on it, I knew the costume would go very flat very quickly. When we finalized the color, I knew I wanted a lot of depth. Not only are there 3D printed fabrics and 3D printed pieces on there, but I needed the cape to be epic. I wanted movement, and I wanted to make it not very heavy. I worked on The Dark Knight Rises, and that cape was made with a very light material. It moved so well, so I knew that it had a flow. There is 3D printed fabric and then the hieroglyphics gives it a shimmer. Those elements could give it a depth and story, so when people see it, they want to learn more about it. It’s what people call an opera cape in terms of weight and fullness to it. It it was too heavy, it would weigh Oscar down.”
The chest of the Moon Knight costume has a crescent in the center, but it feels thrillingly alive. Kasperlik textures it with more history and character.
“There is so much going on in the chest. There are not only the mummy wrappings and pieces in there, and then there is the crest and hieroglyphs inside there. It’s Khonshu’s oath. In the center of it, the texture is the texture of the moon. There are bandages across that and underneath that, there is armor inscribed with Khonshu’s oath.”
Much like the Moon Knight piece, Kasperlik had to add to the Mr. Knight suit in order to provide more depth. I wondered if the mask was difficult to keep in place or to keep smooth, and the lapel features a design so intricate that it almost feels like it could move of its own accord. These pieces don’t just feel like they are put on an actor’s body.
“It’s easy to keep in place. There is a harder shell underneath it of the shape. Because Oscar has two stunt people, it makes it so that there is a mold and a mold of his two stunt people on the inside. Even if a stunt person is in the scene, there is a shape of Oscar’s face on the outside to make it look like his face. Over the shell is Eurojersey, which is like a stretchy spandex. That material is 3D printed so there is texture to it like a muslin fabric. It is then molded and shaped over the face, and the eyes are put in in CG. We needed them to be able to see. On the lapel, it’s a feather shape that is representative of Khonshu. He also has leather strappings and it’s painted to look like it’s aged over the years. Within his leather bandoliers, there’s the same pattern that’s in the lapels of the jacket and the waistcoat. Since there are only buttons on the waistcoat, the buttons are actually Khonshu’s symbol. I had an in-house metalsmith to make the 205 buttons to go on all the suits that we needed.”
When Layla agrees to become the avatar for Taweret, she yanks her wings open and two swords are unsheathed in her hands to become Scarlet Scarab. You know that if you saw this series in a theater, it would be a moment for the audience to go nuts. The top portion of the outfit was made out of leather, but the skirt was a lighter material. You can always sense that Kasperlik wants to balance her costume design in order to not overwhelm the viewer. If someone has a plainer top, the pants would be more ornate (see Steven’s patterned shirts when he works at the museum). Kasperlik admits that she felt the pressure with this reveal.
“That was the one I was most nervous about. We had a few iterations of that costumes, and we finished it a few weeks before we filmed in it. I was so anxious for the fans to see it. The wings made it extra exciting, but that is another costume where you see so much detail up close. I took the scarab on her collar with the wings down, because Taweret gives her the costume and the wings are out. They mimic what Taweret are on. The leggings she wears features an ancient symbol–I did a ton of research–that we 3D printed the pattern onto this stretch. I had an amazing painter, Wilberth Gonzalez, who did all the work on the entire costume. The only thing he didn’t do were the boots, which were done by a company called Jitterbug. They do a lot of the Marvel boots. My team was so amazing, and we made that entire costume in Budapest. I loved that we got to use the artists that were there, and I think it really enhanced it with 3D printing and pulling it together with different patterns and textures. This character wasn’t really expected, so it was cool when the reveal of Scarlet Scarab happened.”
Moon Knight is a heavy visual effects series, so there is the worry that the feeling of the costumes would get lost in post-production. Kasperlik worked very closely with the VFX team to sustain the proper weight and integrity of all the pieces. That consistency is felt throughout the show.
“On Moon Knight, I worked with the VFX team very closely. Sean Faden was the head of the visual effects team, and very early on, we went over the costuming from the rendering to the build to actual existing costumes. Everything except for the eyes that I previously mentioned and the wings for Scarlet Scarab was built. For Khonshu and Mr. Knight, we wanted to make sure there wasn’t a limitation when it came to the color. They weren’t scared of the white. Anything we made, I gave them the pattern piece to make sure they could build it. They scanned all the actors in the costumes, the costumes on their own, and they took fabric samples. I would say that I talked to the VFX team about 5 times a week. They did such an amazing job, and it’s the first time that I’ve worked with a team so closely that they checked in with me to make sure that the costumes that was shown in CG was one that I designed.”
With so many fantastical pieces, what would Kasperlik take for herself. If I could sew the Moon Knight cowl into every hoodie, I own, I would do it. When Steven is fighting on a rooftop in Cairo, one of the guys is wearing a black jacket with a gold pattern.
“I didn’t take anything since I wasn’t allowed. I would’ve wanted the Mr. Knight costume or I love Oscar’s look in the desert. The long coat with the green vest. That’s pretty classic.”
Moon Knight is streaming on Disney+.