‘Moon Knight’ Review: Promising Start With Mutual Confusion

Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios https://www.marvel.com/tv-shows/moon-knight/1

In the next round of star-studded superhero shows released on Disney+, “Moon Knight” takes a different approach to these highly anticipated stories by introducing an entirely new character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). In a six-episode installment rather than a movie like Shang-Chi, Moon Knight will have to live up to the hype of previous heroes beside release challenges as a tv show instead of a blockbuster. With the first episode premiering March 30, viewers see Oscar Isaac don the white mask and cape of the titular vigilante opposite of Ethan Hawke’s seemingly villainous Arthur Harrow. While the first episode got off to an arguably slow start, the intriguing plot and well done effects kept the audience hooked for the 46-minute runtime.

Right from the beginning, it’s clear this is another interesting acting credit for Isaac, who seemingly takes any role that interests him based on his wide variety of characters. For now, he’s stepped into the shoes of Steven Grant, a British Egytopolgy-obsessed worker at a museum gift shop. While this interpretation differs greatly from the comic books, which feature Grant as a millionaire, it’s the main source of humor for the show thus far. Steven Grant has zero clue what is going on for the entirety of the episode, making it easier on new fans of the character to absorb the odd plot details beside him. For now, he’s just a poor guy trying to get some decent sleep, hang out with his goldfish, and not anger his boss anymore than he already has. Unfortunately for him, with the introduction of Marc Spector at the end of the episode, his life is going to get very messy, very quickly. It’s also worth pointing out that while the accent Isaac uses in the episode is mildly disconcerting at first, he’s actually quite good at it, keeping a steady cadence and intonation throughout. His character’s awkward politeness and continual uncertainty make his socially-inept tendencies seem harmless and humorous in what will hopefully continue to be a refreshing break from the show’s overarching seriousness.

While writers waited until the end of the episode to truly dive into the multiple-personality aspect of the character, the ways they gradually built the tension created more than just urgency and fear for Grant. The shuttering cuts from Grant having control to the moments after losing it perfectly set up the questions that will presumably be answered in later episodes. What is happening to Grant? What happens when he’s not in control? Why is he suddenly able to beat up a small group of armed bad guys when five minutes ago he was mumbling his way through an apology to a creepy cult guy he just saw murder someone? In the final moments of the episode, we finally see Steven Grant interact with his alter-ego, Spector, the main identity of the body they share and mercenary for the Egyptian god Khonsu. While there is only a short glimpse of Spector transforming into Moon Knight, it definitely speaks to an incredibly talented effect and graphics team that will likely have more screen time to shine later on in the series as the action ramps up.

For the first episode of a superhero show, there’s not a whole lot of action. Sure, it gets off to a disturbing start, later cuts to Grant with bloody fists in his perpetual state of worry and confusion, and ends with Moon Knight brutally beating up what appears to be a version of Anubis, but it’s not filled with fight sequences or blood. This will likely increase as the show eases away from Grant and into Spector as more of the vigilante’s moonlighting duties (pun intended) are explored. The car chase scene though was simply fun for the contrast of Grant’s appalled nature and the life-threatening events going on around him.

The main issues with the episode lie in its pacing and ambiguity, both of which aren’t actually concerning problems considering the subject material. With such a loaded origin story and complicated character, the slow pacing eased the audience into what could likely be a confusing explanation regarding the dissociative identity disorder and the tie-in of Egyptian mythology within the plot. The elusive storyline that keeps viewers wondering at the reality of Grant’s situation fits into the overall mysterious nature of the show, and with the evident ability to ramp up the pressure, there are high expectations for another Marvel win. 

“Moon Knight” is definitely a more experimental project based on previous iterations of comic book characters seen on the widely used streaming service, especially with speculations on how the showrunners will deal with the mental illness aspects of the character. While not being a mind-blowing first episode, it’s still an enjoyable watch that will keep viewers hooked until the final episode, set to premiere May 4.