Major spoilers for Moon Knight episode 5 follow.
Moon Knight episode 5 has arrived on Disney Plus. And, as you wipe the tears from your eyes – if you've seen it, you'll know why – you may have forgotten about a certain Easter egg that officially ties the TV show to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Before Moon Knight debuted on Disney Plus, there was plenty of discussion about how closely it would link to other MCU productions. But, one particular reference made by Tawaret, the Egyptian god of childbirth and fertility – you can read more about her in our episode 4 explainer – ensures that Moon Knight has major ties to a couple of Marvel movies.
We're about to dig into where you can find this Moon Knight episode 5 Easter egg and how it links to former and future MCU superhero flicks. Turn back now if you haven't caught the episode yet – why would you be here if you haven't? – and don't want anything spoiled.
The reference in question can be found in the episode's opening act. After we're properly introduced to Tawaret (alongside Marc and Steven), we find out that the latter duo aren't in a psychiatric hospital at all. Instead, it's a figment of their imagination and they're actually on their way to the Egyptian afterlife – aka the Field of Reeds.
That is, if they pass the Weighing of the Heart trial by balancing their souls on the scales of truth against a giant ostrich feather. We could elaborate on that further, but it'll take a while to explain, so let's just move on to the Marvel Easter egg that Moon Knight episode 5 contains.
As Tawaret begins to explain that Marc and Steven are traveling to the afterlife via the Egyptian underworld, Marc asks if the psychiatric ward is a stand-in for said underworld. Tawaret says "This is an afterlife, not the afterlife. You'd be surprised how many intersectional planes of untethered consciousness exist."
It's during this part of the conversation that Tawaret drops a major Marvel movie reference: the Ancestral Plane, aka a parallel dimension where souls exist outside of a person's physical body.
In the MCU, the Ancestral Plane is also known by two other names: the Astral Plane and the Astral Dimension. These names are interchangeable and, as such, they're all important for the deep dive we're about to embark on.
Moon Knight has dropped a number of other MCU Easter eggs throughout its episodic run so far, but this is the most obvious one of all. Why? Because we've seen this Plane in multiple Marvel movies, including Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The Astral Plane featured prominently throughout Doctor Strange, with the Ancient One and Stephen Strange conversing in it at one point, while Strange battled one of Kaecilius' followers in this alternate reality. Meanwhile, we see the Ancestral Plane – a psychadelic, afterlife-inspired version of this dimension – in Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa and Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger visit it whenever they ingested Wakanda's legendary purple herb – i.e. the source of Black Panther's superpowers.
The Astral Plane was also touched upon in Endgame – Bruce Banner and the Ancient One discussed branching timelines during the Avengers' time stone heist. Finally, the Astral Dimension was briefly featured No Way Home during Doctor Strange and Spider-Man's fight over a spell box that would've sent the webslinger's villains back to their original universes.
With Tawaret namedropping the Ancestral Plane in Moon Knight's fifth entry, it's clear that the latest Marvel Phase 4 project has closer ties to the MCU (through its mentioning of the Astral Dimension) than we initially realized. Hopefully, that means we'll see Moon Knight team up with other superpowered beings in the future. That is, if he survives the season finale's expected showdown with Arthur Harrow, or if Oscar Isaac is even interested in returning as the character down the line.
Moon Knight episode 5's Easter egg also ties it to future Marvel movies
Tawaret's reference to the Ancestral Plane doesn't just link Moon Knight to previously released Marvel movies – it also ties to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and, perhaps more surprisingly, Thor: Love and Thunder.
The links to Black Panther 2 are pretty obvious. The Ancestral Plane played a key role in the 2018 MCU flick, with T'Challa and Killmonger able to talk to their fathers and other ancestors in this parallel dimension. Given that Wakanda Forever will likely see the christening of a new Black Panther – Boseman died in August 2019 after a four-year battle with bowel cancer – we can expect to see the Ancestral Plane feature at some point in the sequel.
Thor 4 is a different story. The god of thunder's MCU journey has made no reference to the Ancestral/Astral Plane thus far, but Love and Thunder is sure to change that in two major ways.
Firstly, Love and Thunder will introduce Gorr the God Butcher (played by Batman's Christian Bale), a powerful villain whose Necrosword weapon – in Marvel comics, at least – has the ability to kill gods.
You don't need us to tell you that gods walk among mortals in the MCU. Thor, Loki, Odin, and other Norse gods have appeared throughout Marvel Studios' various productions over the past decade. Moon Knight has introduced a number of Egyptian gods into the fold, but it was Black Panther that initially brought the Egyptian deities (i.e. the Ennead) into the MCU with Bast, the Panther God who bestowed the original Black Panther – Bashenga – with superpowers.
Secondly (but by not means least) it's Bast who may bridge the gap between Moon Knight, Black Panther, and Thor 4 together once the god of thunder's fourth solo movie arrives in theaters this July. According to The Cosmic Circus (opens in new tab), Bast is set to appear in Love and Thunder; a move that would further cement ties between these MCU movies and TV shows.
Moon Knight episode 5's Ancestral Plane reference, then, isn't just a throwback to previous Marvel films. It also sets up the possibility of linking the Disney Plus show to upcoming MCU flicks, thus linking it to the wider MCU and ensuring that it isn't a wholly standalone property.
Will Moon Knight episode 6 contain further MCU ties? We think so, but we don't expect them to take center stage. It's the series finale, after all, so we suspect there'll be a major showdown between Marc Spector and Arthur Harrow, a few more revelations about the duo's past endeavors, and maybe even a post-credits scene that sets up Moon Knight's MCU future. Here's hoping, anyway.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect incorrect information concerning the Ancestral Plane's appearance in Doctor Strange. We apologize for not catching this error sooner.