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‘Moon Knight’ Star Ethan Hawke Speaks Confusing Mandarin on the Show

  • In the latest episode of “Moon Knight,” Ethan Hawke has a conversation in Mandarin.
  • Fans who are native Mandarin speakers criticized the scene for “butchering” the language.
  • Insider translated the captioned conversation to figure out what the lines were meant to be.

Ethan Hawke utters a few lines in Mandarin in the latest episode of “Moon Knight,” ostensibly to show off his character’s worldly aspirations, but his pronunciation was mocked by fans who are native speakers of the language.

Hawke stars in the new Marvel TV series as Arthur Harrow, the leader of a cult that worships an ancient Egyptian deity. In the second episode, Harrow captures hero Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) to show the changes his cult brings by purging evil from the world.

During the scene, Harrow jokes in Mandarin Chinese with one of the cult members (played by Miriam Nyarko), telling Grant that his group members aim to speak three languages. But his attempted lines prompted fans of the show who speak the language to tweet that they were unable to understand what either character was saying.

“A friend sent me this clip of @moonknight and it fills me with rage” Windson Liong, a voice actor, wrote. “I’m so sick of top Western productions repeatedly butchering my language, turning it into offensive ‘Eastern’ sounding gibberish that makes no sense. It’s definitely not Mandarin… “

Pop culture podcast host David Chen also tweeted“Moon Knight has one of the worst examples of a white man speaking Mandarin Chinese that I can remember. It was pretty much incomprehensible.”

Simu Liu, another Marvel actor, who was the lead in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, also tweeted: “Okay, Arthur Harrow has to fire his Mandarin teacher.”

Although the show doesn’t offer subtitles for the scene, turning on the simplified Chinese subtitles revealed what the lines were apparently meant to be.

“What are you doing? I’m going to play with you,” Hawke’s character says to a woman (Nyarko) with a soccer ball.

“You’re still going to lose,” she retorts.

“You’re dead for sure, Jamela, you’re dead for sure,” he jokes.

Moon Knight

The “Moon Knight” scene with Chinese captions.

Disney+/Marvel Studios


Some fans pointed out that it was surprising to see this scene after “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, which was hailed for being the first Asian-led Marvel film and having several entirely Mandarin-language scenes with subtitles for those who did not speak the language.

Alexa Heinrich, the creator of a website dedicated to helping social media be more accessible to people with disabilities, criticized the lack of translation through captions, saying, “I really appreciate @moonknight on @disneyplus, but I want the subtitles to translate when a different language is spoken like French and Mandarin. I want to know what the actors are saying, that’s why I have the subtitles!”

Insider has reached out to reps for the show for comment.

New episodes of “Moon Knight” airs weekly on Wednesdays on Disney+.

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