Marvel’s ‘Moon Knight’ Opens a New World of Monsters and Mental Illness [Review]
Marvel’s new series Moon Knight arrives on Disney+ today, introducing an exciting new character to the live action MCU and opening the door to a new world of monsters and mental illness.
Oscar Isaac stars as museum gift shop employee Steven Grant, who is prone to blackouts, the events during which he can’t remember, but bloodied bodies are often scattered around him when he wakes up. Oscar Isaac also stars as the mysterious Marc Spector, or rather a man with two (at least) personalities living inside him, and after the first episode it is entirely unclear what the hell is going on. This is more or less the wild introduction into the series, setting up a lot of mystery to tease out explanations for over future episodes.
Moon Knight is a refreshingly dark (both cinematically and thematically speaking) series for Marvel, but through almost all of the first four episodes we were provided of the six-episode limited series, it is still very much of the family-friendly and very often comedic comics-brought-to-life aesthetic of the MCU brand. It’s only when the caped and hooded Moon Knight himself shows up briefly to righteously kick some ass that hints of an even darker, sharper story begin to emerge, one which dates back to ancient Egypt and a fallen god’s vigilante form of justice.
Episode 2 provides a bit more explanation, as we learn more about Marc Spector’s relationship to the Egyptian God of the Moon, Khonshu, and we get to know the show’s main villain, Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow, who claims to know an awful lot about Khonshu and his fellow gods, with an especially keen interest in one in particular.
The third episode is an interesting departure, taking place mostly in Egypt and primarily from Marc’s point of view, instead of Steven’s, as in the first two episodes. Having a main protagonist with serious dissociative identity disorder is definitely a bold first for the MCU, allowing for some timely issues to undoubtedly be addressed, but for now, it also gives the show ample opportunity to make fun cinematic use of the blackouts and of the aftermath carnage often following them.
By the fourth episode, Moon Knight enters Tomb Raider-style horror adventure territory, as Steven, along with Marc’s wife Layla (played by May Calamawy), encounter a truly creepy creature while on a quest without Khonshu’s considerable help, which includes a cool suit of what appear to be mummy wraps that gives Marc/Steven extra strength and healing powers when summoned.
The whole incorporation of the Egyptian mythology, complete with werewolf-like jackals, mummies, scarabs, and warring gods, is the show’s strongest deviation from the wider MCU, which is notably not referenced in the early episodes beyond the traditional Marvel Studios logo treatment at the top of the opening credits. Moon Knight is in fact the first main character of a Disney+ series that was not previously featured in any live action Marvel movie.
Oscar Isaac is great in the dual performances of the British comedically befuddled yet unassumingly brilliant Steven and the brooding and ruthless American mercenary Marc. Watching the two personalities come into conflict over moral differences and later have to submit to letting each others’ differing talents be employed to save themselves is a much more up front illustration of the inner struggles many of the more well known superheroes of this movie universe have faced.
The excellent soundtrack mixes classic horror elements with a distinctly Egyptian flavor, while there are some fun needle drop moments, with the first song featuring lyrics about the moon, and later an action sequence set to Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”.
I can’t spoil it here, but there is a huge gamechanger that occurs within one of these trippy first four episodes that will absolutely have everyone talking.
Having not yet seen the final two episodes, and I can confidently say that these first four are just barely touching the tip of where this entertainingly genre-twisting series could conceivably, hopefully go.
New episodes of Moon Knight premiere weekly on Disney+.
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