Moon Knight is one of the more complex characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Instead of a wisecracker like Tony Stark, or a patriot like Captain America, Moon Knight is someone with mental illness. It's an angle that the MCU hasn't explored and one that is ripe with possibilities. After watching the four episodes given to the press, it's safe to confirm that the possibilities are endless! Our story follows Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), a mild-mannered gift shop employee plagued with blackouts and memories of other lives. This leads Grant on a dark adventure with another voice in his head, ex-mercenary Marc Spector (Isaac), who may know more than they appear.
"Moon Knight" juggles tones ranging from adventure stories to straightforward horror. If these episodes prove anything, it's that this show is going where fans won't expect, especially with a villain that feels so different from other antagonists in this universe. Ethan Hawke plays Arthur Harrow, a relatively minor character in the MCU pantheon who is essentially a cult leader. As a parallel to someone as damaged as Grant, a villain like Harrow is an interesting foil. The same could be said for May Calamawy as Layla, who has a deep connection to Spector. As much as these supporting characters were connected to Marc and Steven, Isaac's central performance is the main draw.
Shifting between these different characters can be a lot for one actor, as a character with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) could be poorly represented in the wrong hands. Isaac has the difficult job of having to respect the illness and not make it cliché. Playing so many different versions of the same character allows him to showcase his acting range. He's equal parts action hero and funny outcast, unlike any other hero in this universe. It's a wild, raw, unhinged and unpredictable performance that proves a welcome addition to this franchise. However, some will struggle with the slow-burn series.
I could see the languid pacing as a deterrent for Marvel's hardcore fan base. Compared to its other television properties, "Moon Knight" is attempting to explore new ground. We're still given the typical Marvel humor, but its heavier themes and violence feel surprising. I say this as a warning: this show is not for the kids who love this universe. It's the rare show from Disney+ that pushes the boundaries of what the streaming platform is known for.
In an online featurette for the franchise, Calamawy described it as a cross between "Indiana Jones" and "Fight Club." That combination is something of a risk because it limits their audience. The four episodes I watched feel like the studio is testing the waters. It's a tactic that makes the show feel like it's sometimes trying too hard to impress regarding the lore surrounding Egyptian gods. These moments feel a bit repetitive but tend to ease off further into the episodes. This mythology is a big part of the Moon Knight character, but it's understandable if some dislike the dense history. Audiences signed up for a superhero show, not a history lesson.
What stands out about "Moon Knight" is that it throws every tonal surprise against a wall to see what sticks. The heavier themes in these four episodes are impressive. Dealing with issues like DID and even depression and anxiety is perfect for the modern-day. As someone who experiences generalized anxiety disorder, I could relate to the Marc/Steven journey. I've certainly never had conversations with Egyptian gods, but I have doubted myself like Steven. These themes and ideas of the character feel manufactured in some cases but never offended me.
After four episodes of "Moon Knight," this is my favorite of the Disney+ Marvel series thus far. It's wild, weird and exciting, even when certain elements don't work as intended. These sort of tonal shifts make these episodes incredibly exciting and continuously surprising. Your enjoyment of this journey is based entirely on how much you like adventure stories. Whether the characters are traveling through the desert or their minds, it's still an entertaining journey. I'm going to hold out on giving a rating for the series until I see the last two episodes. However, if you are a Marvel fan or just a casual streamer, give this one a chance.
Watch The Trailer Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7Krla_UxRg