‘Moon Knight’ Season 1 Review

To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Moon Knight is an action-adventure series based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. The show is produced by Kevin Feige with Jeremy Slater (The Umbrella Academy) serving as head writer and Mohamed Diab (Amira, Cairo 6,7,8) leading the directing team. Featuring Oscar Isaac, May Calamawy, Karim El Hakim, F. Murray Abraham, Ethan Hawke, Ann Akinjirin, David Ganly, Khalid Abdalla, Gaspard Ulliel, Antonia Salib, Fernanda Andrade, Rey Lucas, Sofia Danu, and Saba Mubarak, it is the sixth of many Disney+ limited series and shows set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Meaning it shares continuity with the films of the franchise. The story follows Steven Grant, a mild-mannered British Museum gift-shop employee with dissociative identity disorder (DID), who discovers that his alter ego, Marc Spector, is an American mercenary and avatar for the Egyptian moon god Khonshu.

In a large bright room, Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) sits at a desk as “Every Grain of Sand” by Bob Dylan plays in the background. He enjoys a small glass of water before placing the empty container on a cloth and shattering it with his cane. He places the shards in his sandals, puts them on, and walks out the door. In a small dark room, Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) wakes up and gets ready for the day as “Man Without Love” by Engelbert Humperdinck plays in the background. He has one leg strapped to a pole, his bed is circled by a ring of sand and tape on his door. After seeing that nothing is abnormal, he gets dressed, feeds his fish, calls his mom, and heads to work. Later that evening Steven returns home, studies the Egyptian Ennead, listens to a podcast, and falls asleep. The next morning, he wakes up near a small village in Austria, beaten and bruised, as an unseen voice (F. Murray Abraham) tells him to “go back to sleep” and “surrender the body to Marc.” After narrowly escaping the people chasing him, Steven wakes up back in his bed wondering if it was all a dream.

Moon Knight is the first Marvel Disney+ series to not have any connection to the rest of the MCU. Like Eternals before it, this entry feels separate. In some ways, this is good because we get to enjoy brand-new characters with backstories that have yet to be explored. This allows the writers freedom to mess around with the canon more to explain why the characters have yet to appear – or not. There are small blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Easter eggs throughout the show that lets you know the story takes place in a post-Blip world. Other than that you wouldn’t know that this takes place in the MCU.

The cast is filled with some top-grade actors. Ethan Hawke is great as Arthur Harrow. There is an internal pain the character emits whenever he speaks. This could be manifested by the shards of glass in his shoes, but also in the hurt, he feels for being Khonshu’s previous avatar. Hawke has been critical of superhero films in the past so it’s nice to see him come around. Oscar Isaac is terrific as Steven Grant, Marc Spector, and Jake Lockley. Any actor that’s able to portray multiple distinct personalities should receive praise. Marc is shown to be aggressive and tough while Steven is timid and weak. Jake is only seen once, but his actions will lead you to believe he is ruthless and unhinged. The switch between them truly feels like two different people as opposed to a man doing different voices. While not on the same level as James McAvoy’s performances in Split and Glass, it’s still pretty good. The scenes in episode five when Marc is remembering his mother’s abuse during his childhood are enough to bring anyone to tears. The cast is rounded out by F. Murray Abraham’s fantastic voice work as Khonshu and May Calamawy’s (Ramy) emotional and energetic Layla El-Faouly.

Though it was touted as Indiana Jones meets Fight Club, there is not much adventure or globetrotting as you’d expect. The story is more introspective, focusing on Marc and Steven’s mental illness, their relationship with each other and the world around them. The main set pieces are London and Cairo with a small detour in Austria. The episodes are shorter and the finale did feel like it needed to wrap a bow on everything. Also, the VFX (Visual effects) are not as polished as in the previous MCU series. Many factors could explain this. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, many VFX companies were backlogged with projects and did their best to complete them before their due dates. This takes away the extra time that they normally would have spent perfecting shots. Moon Knight is not a well-known Marvel character so the budget for the series was probably smaller than the other shows. The show was likely marketed as a limited series to see what the fan reception would be like before they green-lit a second season. They also only signed Isaac to a one-show contract. Therefore it was smart to wrap up as much as they could in the finale as it would be easy to renegotiate with Isaac if they wanted to further explore the character in other series or films.

Overall, Moon Knight is a solid effort by Marvel Studios to do something set apart from the rest of the MCU. It’s a gritty, yet fun story that introduces a lot of new lore and characters. I give Moon Knight Season 1 an Average 3.5/5. The acting was great and I’m interested in seeing where Marc, Steven, and Jake will show up next. Maybe in a second season with more episodes, but hopefully sooner.

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