Marvel’s Moon Knight: Series Premiere Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
As the MCU has started to pass the torch to a new generation of heroes, it’s been intriguing to wonder how Moon Knight would fit given the vastly different tone and atmosphere of this character compared to the rest of the MCU. Oddly enough though, within Moon Knight’s premiere, the series establishes itself strongly as a major tonal shift in the MCU.
The idea of Moon Knight joining the MCU is an interesting one because, well, he’s so unlike anything we’ve seen in the MCU. In the comics, he’s a disturbed, violent anti-hero who battles his own inner self while trying to navigate a supernatural world. However, the MCU is clearly heading toward darker territory given what we’ve seen of the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and knowing that Blade’s introduction is just around the corner, so it’s really the perfect time for Moon Knight to make his debut and his introduction brings viewers into a gripping psychological mystery with Marvel’s most unique characterization in quite some time.
One of main aspects that makes Moon Knight unique is its human protagonist Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) and it’s not just because of Isaac himself. Although the premiere mainly focuses on Steven, he is just one of many personalities that exist within this character as he suffers from dissociative identity disorder (DID). This means that he generally has blackouts and memories from other personalities, and it not only works in creating these thrilling moments that catch you off guard, but it also creates a compelling and engaging portrayal of DID that’s charismatic and emotional.
As Steven, Isaac really immerses himself into his timid and fearful mindset with a performance that makes you feel his constant anxiety and fears about what’s really happening to him. His constant blackouts are portrayed in a shocking fashion that sees hours, sometimes days pass in the blink of an eye and Steven’s mind drifting from one place to another. At first, it can seem kind of confusing when Steven suddenly appears in another location, but it eventually works in showing how Steven’s reality is constantly shifting. However, Steven’s condition and his behavior is never portrayed to make him come off weird or monstrous, but rather as sympathetic and kind of sad.
There’s a lot of heartbreak in watching Steven miss out on a date because of his blackouts and it’s painful to see how people view him because of how scattered he appears. Isaac as well as some of the charming writing that’s a staple to the MCU treat Steven like a real person who strives to live a normal life but struggles to because of this condition. Sure, there are some comedic moments within Moon Knight that come from him ranting about the fins on his goldfish and some of the blackouts he endures later, but the series never lets you forget about the real issues he’s facing, and those emotions stick with you throughout. Isaac’s performance is excellent here and shows some potential to be one of the most complex in the MCU.
Alongside Isaac’s performance is Ethan Hawke’s as Arthur Hallow, a cult leader associated with the Egyptian Goddess Ammit. Hawke embodies everything that makes cult leaders so dangerous as he offers a charismatic and opportunistic personality with underlying intentions. As Steven first meets him, he seems like a simple man looking to instill hope in those around him, but the second his cryptic scale tattoo turns an old lady into a soulless corpse, you definitely see him as the villain. Even the creepy opening of a faceless Arthur putting glass into his sandals makes you instantly shudder when you see him because of what’s really happening under it all. It’s even more sickening to watch him talk to Steven because you realize that Steven’s struggles make him the kind of person that Arthur loves to take advantage of. However, he isn’t without his intriguing motivations that expand some of Moon Knight’s unique lore.
Arthur is an agent of Ammit, who judges people by looking into their past, present, and future, to decided if they are good or bad. This ideology is what drives Arthur as he believes that Ammit’s vision is THE way to rid the world of evil and his argument can be kind of compelling. It’s certainly tough to argue with him on Ammit’s power possibly preventing some of the greatest human atrocities and frankly, Hawke is just so damn convincing in his performance. But there’s definitely some greater truth to be unearthed when it comes to Ammit being betrayed and what made Arthur so determined to follow in this path, so expect the truth behind this ideology to come out.
Moon Knight’s premiere also does a great job hooking viewers on its central mysteries that tie into what Steven discovers about himself as well as the overall lore. Although Steven does a small explanation about some of the Egyptian gods we’ll likely come to understand soon, there’s still a good mystery behind them, especially the Moon God that Steven is a conduit for named Khonshu. The small glimpses we’ve gotten of Khonshu are super horror-driven and he looks creepy as hell as he approaches Steven, so it’ll be interesting to see a bigger meeting between these two. It’ll be even more interesting to see how one of Steven’s other personalities, Marc Spector, plays into all this as he is the main other personality referenced throughout the episode.
Marc is a mercenary who’s somehow gotten both Arthur hunting him down after a gold scarab and this mysterious power that transforms him into his superhero persona Moon Knight. There are small things that Steven discovers, including a cell phone Steven uses to talk to one of Marc’s contacts, but overall, the premiere briefly alludes to Marc. We may not learn much yet, but what the episode does allude to is interesting and it’s even more fun how these shifting personalities are played up in more actiony moments. Moon Knight was initially teased as “hyper-violent” like the comics and while we don’t get much on-screen action, the teases we get of the bloody action ahead are both funny and shocking. This series definitely features more blood than any previous MCU show or movie and it’s pretty wild when Steven blacks out and then awakes to find out what Marc’s done.
Moon Knight’s premiere is a captivating character study on the MCU’s most unique character to date that creates a sympathetic and very human depiction of Steven’s identity disorder while also establishing one of the MCU’s most compelling villains and a distinct tone that perfectly signifies a dark shift in the MCU.