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Director of new Marvel series grew up in Tampa Bay

Aaron Moorhead will co-direct several episodes of the Marvel series ‘Moon Knight,’ which will stream on Disney+.
Justin Benson, left, and Tarpon Springs native Aaron Moorhead, right, arrive at Variety's 10 Directors to Watch and Creative Impact Awards Presented by Mercedes-Benz at the Parker Palm Springs in 2015.
Justin Benson, left, and Tarpon Springs native Aaron Moorhead, right, arrive at Variety's 10 Directors to Watch and Creative Impact Awards Presented by Mercedes-Benz at the Parker Palm Springs in 2015. [ Courtesy of Rob Latour/Invision/AP ]
Published Jan. 12, 2021|Updated Jan. 12, 2021

TARPON SPRINGS — David Bautista and Angela Bassett, welcome Aaron Moorhead to the ranks of those with a connection to the Tampa Bay area who have joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Tampa resident Bautista and St. Petersburg native Bassett are part of the franchise as on-screen talent, portraying Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy and Queen Ramonda from Black Panther, respectively.

Moorhead, a 33-year-old Tarpon Springs native and graduate of Palm Harbor University High School and Florida State University, will work behind the camera as co-director of several episodes of the Marvel series Moon Knight, which will stream on Disney+.

The show is expected to begin shooting in Budapest in March, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Moon Knight, starring Oscar Isaac, best known as Poe Dameron in the most recent Star Wars trilogy, is based on the comic book series of the same name. An ex-Marine and CIA operative becomes a costumed, crime-fighting Earth avatar of the Egyptian god of vengeance.

“I still can’t quite wake up from this dream I’m having, that we’re directing Oscar Isaac in a Marvel show. It’s really happening,” Moorhead tweeted.

The “we’re” refers to his longtime directing partner, Justin Benson of San Diego.

Related: Tarpon Springs' Aaron Moorhead is an indie film darling, even if he won't admit it

According to a 2014 Tampa Tribune article, Moorhead and Benson met while interning for the Los Angeles-based production company run by Ridley Scott, the man behind such films as Alien, Bladerunner and Blackhawk Down.

Moorhead and Benson — both now live in Los Angeles — released their first of four independent feature films as co-directors in 2012. Resolution tells the story of a man who, in trying to save his best friend from drug addiction, holds him captive in a home. They quickly learn the residence is built on a haunted Indian burial ground.

Next was Spring, about an American who, while in Italy, falls in love with a woman harboring the secret that she mutates into an immortal, murderous reptilian creature.

Then came The Endless, about two brothers who, seeking closure, return to the UFO death cult they escaped years earlier only to learn the scary truth that Camp Arcadia’s beliefs are real.

In 2019, they released Synchronic, about two New Orleans paramedics who encounter a series of horrific deaths linked to a designer drug with bizarre, otherworldly effects. That movie stars Anthony Mackie, best known for portraying Marvel superhero the Falcon in several movies and in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a series set to stream on Disney+ later this year.

Related: Avengers: Endgame opens this week. How Tampa Bay helped create the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

According to IMDB.com, Moorhead and Benson also co-directed an episode of the Twilight Zone reboot for CBS All Access.

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Such mainstream success for the independent film directors was predicted.

Variety Magazine, a leading weekly national news publication reporting on the film industry, named the Moorhead and Benson duo as among the top 10 directors to watch in 2015.

Asked in 2018 if they hoped to one day direct a superhero blockbuster, Benson told the Tampa Bay Times, “Everyone wants to work on a bigger scale and have everyone see their movie, but we have to do it in a way where we are not totally sacrificing what we have spent years building.”

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